Your social life looked a lot different before kids. Before kids, a night at the movies was no problem. Stay out late? No big deal. Having kids brings the spontaneity and late nights to a screeching halt. And if they don’t stop, someone is paying for it. My husband and I learned the hard way. We tried to continue our work, volunteer, and social life at the same break-neck speed as before kids only to crash and burn. Our children were cranky, they were missing naps, they weren’t really on a schedule at all, and were acting out and whining all the time. We had to learn to slow down, say “no” more often, and create boundaries. Slowing down, however, doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to friends and hanging out. It’s just looks a little different.
Here are 5 Ways to Maintain a Social Life After Kids
# 1 Invite friends over after your kids are in bed
I recall early in our marriage (before kids were on the radar) having game nights with a couple in the neighborhood. They had an adorable 6 month old little girl. They would put her to bed and then we would play games late into the night. It was so much fun and it never really occurred to me that the location of our game playing was more out of convenience for this couple than anything. Now we are the ones inviting people over after our kids are in bed for game nights. We also started having friends over to watch movies. Our friends don’t seem to mind coming our way and we are able to have adult conversations and interactions without the interruptions of little ones.
# 2 Invite friends into your family time
I’ve mentioned that many of our friends are like family or framily so we are learning to invite our friends right in to the chaos. They become honorary uncles and aunts to our kids and we treasure the time with our friends and delight in seeing them interact with our brood. We’ve even invited friends to join us at Chuck E Cheese. Now that’s friendship right there, folks. Friends with no kids who willingly give up their Friday night to spend time with you and your kids and a mouse.
# 3 Playdates
One of the gifts and challenges of having kids is that when you’re raising littles your friends are often raising littles as well. Inviting them over after kids are in bed can be tricky. Find kid friendly environments in which to hang out. Enclosed playlands are golden. As you know, we spend way too much time at Chickfila but it’s a great place to feed the kids food you know they will eat (because the struggle is real) and then send them off to play while the moms catch up. Library storytimes and playgrounds are also great. I do want to mention that these are not the kind of social interactions where you pour your heart out to your BFF. This is a scattered social time. Diapers, pottytraining, dripping noses and runaway toddlers can make your time spent together very choppy and misaligned. It is still worth it, however, to get a few minutes with another human being who gets you. The time spent with someone who has been and always will be your friend is a treasure. Even if kids have changed the way it looks.
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#4 Girls Night Out
It is so important to have that kid-free time with your friends especially if your friends are in the same stage of life as you: knee high in baby wipes and Doc McStuffins episodes. This one is probably the easiest in theory to practice. Dad stays home while you hang out with the girls. Something always seems to happen, though. The baby gets sick. You have a really crummy day. Dad gets home late from work. You didn’t get a shower. Please don’t let the unexpected chaos of the day keep you from having time with friends. It makes you a better mom and wife. Dad can handle a sick baby. Call your friends and update them on your delayed arrival and get that shower in. I’m an introvert. It’s hard for me to get time with friends simply because of my inward tendencies. It’s ten times harder with kids but I know I need it and try to make it happen. So from an introvert, please take time for you away from your kids to get out and be with your friends.
#5 Invest in Babysitters
Friendship is important and this is one area where a babysitter here and there is worth the investment. About once or twice a year, our LifeGroup takes advantage of our church’s Parents’ Night Out and we eat out as couples. Our kids are well taken care of and we can enjoy each others company without the interruptions of little ones. We’ve also met up for a meal together near the Thanksgiving Holiday . Once kids came along, we started getting sitters so we could have time without the kids. Your friendships are worth it. You are worth it. Get a sitter and enjoy your friends.
Kids and Friends, Friends and Kids
Kids make life interesting and they put a lot of things on hold but friendship should not be one of those things. You just have to learn to work the social life around the needs of little ones who need naps and require consistent bedtime routines*. And your friends? They are gracious and understand a lot better than you’d expect.
Your Turn! How have you found ways to keep your friendships strong while surviving the kid chaos? What challenges keep your friendships at bay? Comment below with your advice and challenges!
You can read the Introduction here: Bringing Home Baby, Again
You can read last week’s post here: Romance: How to Keep it Alive
The addition of children affects the way you take care of your body. It affects your body. Join me as we explore how to regain our bodies and find the grace to wear our birthing scars with pride.
*I want to note that my kids still have meltdowns. We still push their limits at times because we need and crave time with other adults and that’s okay!