Having kids can be all-consuming, can’t it? And it’s easy to let friendships slip away while you focus on your tight little family unit.
But although our schedules can get crazy and we have less time for ‘luxuries’ like friends, it’s vital to make the most of the time we have, to keep our sense of self and stay emotionally healthy.
Make the time
First, it may sound obvious, but you need to make the time to catch up with your friends. Don’t fit them in between Billy’s dentist appointment and Coco’s ballet class…if you have the time – make the effort to plan a catch up, and then stick to it. Yes, it can be hard to find the time, but it’s worth it. Tell yourself that next time you’re thinking of cancelling that coffee catch up because the baby didn’t sleep well last night.
Mind each other’s kids
If your friend has kids too, offer to mind them some time, and ask her to do the same for you. Your kids get to play with each other, and you each get to take some time out for yourselves – all while getting that warm fuzzy feeling that comes from being part of something great. And make sure you catch up for a coffee somewhere around pick up or drop off.
Encourage your kids to be friends
It’s in your best interests if your kids get along, so do what you can to make that work. Point out similar interests, and talk about how fun they are. If they can all jump around on the trampoline together while you’re sipping wine on the deck with your mates, you’re living the dream.
Of course everyone should stick to plans once they’re made, but life doesn’t always work like that. If your friend’s car has broken down, offer to go to her. If your friend can’t get away from work, catch up later or drop in a meal for her.
Don’t wait to be asked
The fact that nobody has invited you to anything for a month doesn’t mean they all hate you; it probably means they’re all tied up in their own chaotic lives and it hasn’t occurred to them. Take the bull by the horns and do the asking yourself. It can be hard to do if you’re shy or lacking in confidence but it sure beats sitting at home on your own. Start small with a coffee or an exercise class and work your way up to longer social events.
Talk about something other than your kids
This goes for any friendships, whether they have kids or not. Remember who you are as women, not just as mums. Talk about your plans for the future, what you hope to achieve for yourself this year, or a great book you’ve been reading – and don’t forget to ask your friends about themselves too.
Leave your children at home sometimes
If you can manage it, get out with your friends without your kids. No explanation needed – it’s just fun!