One of the hardest things about becoming a mom was dealing with the unavoidable truth that parenting means there’s far less free time to spend with friends. I love my group of friends and need them around to talk about everything from marriage and work to the lighter stuff like The Bachelor finale and silly celebrity gossip. I also need them around because as much as I love to take my daughter out and about, sometimes I need social plans that are out of the house and with an adult focus.
Though it’s a little harder to see everyone face-to-face as much as I used to, I’ve been determined over my four years of parenting to find ways to maintain my social network as much as possible. If you’re hoping to combine parenting your littles with adult friendships, I’ve found a few workarounds that help bring the two together.
Find Fun Activities for Kids (And Adults, Too)
Going to the park, a children’s museum, or Chuck E. Cheese for an entire night isn’t incredibly thrilling for adults (even if they are plans we often make for the sake of our kids’ enjoyment!) and sitting quietly at a restaurant isn’t usually a reasonable or fun expectation for kids. The sweet spot is finding hassle-free weekend activities that a group of kids and adults can all enjoy together.
For example, we’ve found some great outdoor venues that cater to both age groups well, like the local winery with an outdoor area for live music. Our group can spread out a picnic blanket and order food and drinks while listening to the music, and the kids get to be outside and play nearby their parents or run around a bit. Some other ideas include gathering for a barbecue or potluck at a friend’s house or going on a group bike ride.
Work That Lunch Break
As a working mom, one of the smartest time-management moves I’ve made is taking full advantage of my lunch break. Sometimes I use the time to run an errand, but often I use it as an opportunity to meet a friend for lunch and converse without interruptions from my chatty daughter.
“Post Bedtime” Hours Are Worth Their Weight in Gold
Another pocket of time I utilize is the time between when my daughter goes to bed and when my husband and I go to bed. If you have a partner at home, you can use this hour or two to get out of the house and meet up with a friend for a drink or a late movie. If it’s easier to stay home, you can also invite them over to sit on the deck and chat or enjoy your favorite TV show together.
Take Advantage of Digital Forms of Communication
It’s hard to beat in-person socialization, but sometimes finding the time is too difficult. The ease of digital communication can keep your conversations flowing between opportunities for face-to-face plans. One of the perks of email is that you can start an ongoing chat and respond as your time allows. Texting makes it so easy to send along something that you think would make your friend laugh with just about a minute or so of effort. As an office worker, I’m also a big supporter of G-Chatting with other office-working friends periodically during the day.
Those Playdates Are for Adult Conversation, Too
Playdates aren’t just great for kids to get some socialization. If you set up play dates with your fellow mommy friends, you get to enjoy some time for adult conversation and coffee while the kids play nearby, though it may be more interrupted.
Whip Out Your Stroller
Hit up a local trail, walk around the mall, or browse a local festival with a friend. Find plans where your kids can happily relax in their stroller while you enjoy a friend date. Time to hang out with your friends with your kids in tow, while not having to chase them around, is a big win!
Over my years of parenting, I’ve found that moms are a really clever bunch. We have the skills to make anything happen no matter the barriers or time constraints. If there’s any group of people that can find time to socialize with their friends while raising their kids well, it’s a group of mom friends that still need their crew around so that they can talk about the things their spouses could care less about!