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. 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

Social Life: How to Have One After Baby

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

Next Week!

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! 

A Gospel That Matters. Check out this review of A Mile Wide

A Gospel that Matters: A Mile Wide Book Review

A Gospel That Matters

In his new book, A Mile Wide: Trading a Shallow Religion for a Deeper Faith, Brandon Hatmaker, uses an age old phrase “mile wide, inch deep”  to challenge all believers, and those exploring their faith, to go a little deeper. Just like the Platte River, from which we get this term, it is easy to get caught up in the expanse of our service as Christians instead of the depth of our relationship with Christ. We should be transformed by the gospel. He says, “We have to spend far more time nurturing what no one ever sees under the surface than worrying about what’s above the soil. Things like Scripture and prayer and community root us so deeply. They are the unglamorous, unfancy work of discipleship.”

Hatmaker fights for the Bride of Christ by calling back the disenfranchised and reminding those camping within the walls of the church of the true purpose of the gospel. The gospel transforms every part of our life. It moves us to live out this transforming experience in every day of the week. “True Christianity is lived along the way, between the church services and Bible studies.”

Community That Means Something

I was so inspired by Hatmaker’s stories and practical ideas for building authentic community. We need community at church, we need community with those we serve alongside, and we need community with those with whom we share common ground. A Mile Wide both inspires and provides practical tips on how to grow these authentic communities.  In addition, there are also discussion questions at the end of each chapter, which are great for a group bible study or for personal reflection.

Whether you are tired of the same old-same old, questioning if community as believers is even possible, or wondering if you should become a believer, I’ll leave you with these final words from Hatmaker: “A shallow religion survives from event to event and program to program. A deeper faith is rooted in trusting relationships where permission is granted to struggle, fail, and take risks. It’s a place where questions are welcomed and everyone is a learner again. Where the scabs of loneliness, emptiness, and false hope are ripped off and replaced with a concern for others, a place to be propped up, and a shared gospel worth living for.”

Let’s go deep together!

A Mile Wide releases September 13th but you can pre-order your copy of A Mile Wide here!

The Fine Print

****I was first introduced to the Hatmaker phenomenon 7 years ago when I participated in a summer women’s Bible study using Jen Hatmaker’s book: Road Trip: Five Adventures You’re Meant to Live.  Since that time, I’ve devoured Seven, Interrupted and most recently For the Love. As an avid fan of all things Hatmaker, I was very excited to review a book by Jen’s husband, Brandon Hatmaker.  Brandon is the pastor of Austin New Church and author of Barefoot Church. I received an advanced pdf version of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.

 

 

 

 

Romance after kids

Romance: How To Keep It Alive After Baby

Romance. It sure looks different from the day you married to the day you find yourself rocking an inconsolable babe in the middle of the night. We all know it but until you have kids it is really hard to understand how much it affects your marriage. Although children are a gift, you have to work at it to keep your marriage a priority. Dates are an obvious way to keep the romance alive, but it isn’t always possible to find or even afford a sitter. 

Here are 5 tricks my husband and I have learned along the way to help keep the romance going even when kids make it complicated.

#1 Stroller dates

When we only had one child, my husband and I would strap our son into the stroller and we would walk around IKEA talking and dreaming. It was a perfect date. Our son enjoyed the scenic people-watching and we enjoyed the time *alone*. I know a couple who would load their kids into the car, with their jammies on, and grab take out. Then, they would drive around for a few hours while their children slept and they talked. They would often go to the state border! Whatever it takes to get alone time with your spouse, right?! I have friends who do date night’s in. We’ve done this before. You can get the kids to bed and make a special evening together watching a movie or baking cookies or insert you favorite past time. Find activities that are still doable while kids are sleeping or in a stroller or in a pack ‘n play. The point is to have adult conversations, dream a little, hold hands and date!

#2 Coffee Dates

We now have three kids and limited opportunities alone. We’ve started having coffee dates in the mornings. While the kids sleep, we sit in the family room sipping our home brewed coffee and talking. It’s not very glamorous but it is nourishing our relationship. Each morning, we are bridging the gap that having lots of kids and little time creates. I want to note that rhythm was very important in making this happen as well. Until I could guarantee the baby was going to sleep through the night, getting up early for coffee was not going to help our marriage! It may not be a coffee date for you and yours but find a DAILY activity that you can look forward to that provides adult conversation without the constant interruption of little ones. 

#3 Resource free or affordable childcare programs

Couples need times when the kids have a safe place to be and you and your spouse have a place to be without them! In our area, both our church and a local non-profit offer Parent’s Night Out programs on a regular basis for a very affordable price. These are priority one in the Parker Household! We block our calendars on these dates. We know that our children will be well loved and cared for and we can have much needed time alone without breaking the bank! The kids have a wonderful time and my husband and I come back refreshed, more connected as a couple, and better parents. There is likely similar programs in your area. Sometimes, you just have to know where to look or who to ask.

#4 Schedule Time Together

I remember sitting in a MOPS meeting this past spring listening to a panel of women sharing their wisdom on how they kept their marriages alive while their children were little. The honesty and ideas that came out of that session were gold. The most priceless advice was to schedule time together both for conversation and intimacy. There will always, ALWAYS, be something or multiple little someones clamoring for your attention. You have to make the decision and steadfast commitment to date, get away without the kids, and remain intimate. It will not just happen. Put a big X on the calendar. Schedule reminders. Carve out times to make your relationship a priority. Having kids has a way of removing the spontaneity of all things romantic but please, still be romantic even if there has to be a big red circle on your calendar reminding you to be intimate with your spouse. I know there will come a time when scheduling quality time alone with your spouse won’t be so hard, but until then do what you gotta do!

#5 Ask for help

Whether this is your first baby or your fifth, you and your spouse just can’t do it alone. Family is not nearby but our church and life group have become our framily. If it had not been for the love, support, and willingness of our friends,  I have no idea how we could have cared for our children, when our second and third child was born. We all need a village. Find yours! Plug into a church. Get involved in a small group. Get to know your neighbors. If you’re near family, please invite them into your life and resource the free babysitting! Connect with people who can help you keep your marriage a priority. Swap babysitting with other couples. Watch their kids one week while you have a date, then they can watch your kids while you get a date! You need this. Your spouse needs this. Your kids need this.

Romance with kids is tough!

Jon Acuff said recently: “Toddlers are amazing, but they are also a crisis. They never stop moving, like raptors constantly testing the boundaries of their containment for weak spots. Your life is upside down when you have young kids.” Let’s own the fact that kids make our marriage relationship difficult. You can, however, find ways to stoke the romance flames between spit up, meltdowns, and night terrors. It will get better. And it’s going to take work. Keep pursuing one another. Your definition of romance may need to change for a while but your love for one another doesn’t have to.

Have kids? Here are some tips on how to stoke the romance flames between spit up and night terrors!

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Your Turn! How have you kept the romance alive between raising littles and the every day demands of life? Comment below with your tips for finding time with your spouse! 

Read the introduction here: Bringing Home Baby, Again

Read last week’s post here: How to Help Your Child Adjust to Baby

Next Week! 

Having kids does a number on your social life. It brings the spontaneity and late nights to a screeching halt. And if they don’t stop, someone is paying for it in meltdowns and chaos. Join me next week as we discuss how kids change your social life!

Photo Credit: Rhonda Ramirez (header image), Captured Photography by Emily (content photo)