When was the last time you so much as had a cup of coffee with your girlfriends? Do you find yourself making excuses, always revolving around the kids, when you say “no” to invitations from friends?
Spending too much time with your children could not only be hurting your social life, but hurting you. How can you start making room for adults in your child-centered world?
Don’t let your friendships be casualties
If you’re cringing because you’ve already lost touch with one too many friends or if some of your friendships are dangerously close to becoming casualties, it’s time to revive them — not just for you — but for your kids.
“One of the first casualties of having kids is usually a woman’s social friendships, and that’s not a good thing. Of course parenthood is a busy time for everyone, but you will ultimately be a better parent if you take care of yourself first, and part of taking care of yourself should be the goal of staying in contact with your girlfriends,” stresses author and psychotherapist, Christina Steinorth.
“The conundrum. How best to squeeze time in for you? Coffee with a friend, a movie, dare we engage in the idea of a girl’s night out? Ever feel like it’s all just moving too fast? If we deem relationships with others as a priority, ultimately we’ll have more to [put] fuel in the tank to dedicate to our children after all,” says life coach, Nancy Sherr.
Moms need female friendships
When you forgo friendships for your kids, you might think this is OK because you’re putting them first. But it’s critical that you put yourself first too. “Study after study shows us that social connections are good for our mental and physical health, and as moms, these things are crucial to how we care for our kids. If we’re constantly stressed, fatigued or even depressed because we’ve lost contact with the outside world, in time this is going to take a toll on our parenting capabilities,” says Steinorth.
Steinorth adds, “Our girlfriends can be a great support when we need someone to talk to and encouragement when we struggle with life’s various issues so it’s important not to let these friendships slip away.”
Being a mom is only part of who you are
Being a mom is wonderful, of course. But is that your sole identity? It’s important to remember that it’s really only part of who you are, even if you consider it the best part. “Being a parent is only one fragmented piece of the totality of a woman. Spending too much time with your children, to the detriment of outside interests, only serves to frustrate you, your friends, and surprisingly your children,” says April St. John who after 13 years as a stay-at-home mom is now a public speaker and MA resident in marriage and family therapy.
“Ask yourself ‘why?’ Why do I feel the need to deny myself structured and planned time away from my children? An honest answer to that question may get you one step closer to a balanced point of view,” adds St. John.
Plan a kid-free day
“Plan a spa day, go to the beach, or go for a hike. Do something where you get some one-on-one time with your closest friends on a regular basis — it will be one of the best investments you can make in yourself, which in turn will make you a better parent to your children,” urges Steinorth.
Nancy Sherr adds these ideas for how to stay connected with your friends:
- Make a standing date with friends on a specific evening every month similar to a book club. This time should be protected from all other appointments/to-dos/obligations.
- Make a treat out of your away time for the kids. Trade that time for you for a pizza night and make it anticipatory fun for them.
- Attach coffee time to the end of your workout time to fit in those important connections — maximize time for yourself.
No more mom excuses
If you’re notorious for saying you don’t have time to see your friends because you’re too busy with the kids, ask yourself if this is really true. Then make a choice to give yourself a kid-free day. Believe it or not, these days actually make you a better mom.
“What helped me get back doing the things I loved was to simply schedule it. If I scheduled a massage for example, I would have to pay if I didn’t show up, so it forces me to go. If I told my friend I was going to meet her/him for lunch, I will most likely go since I am already committed,” says Lisa Stein, founder of freelancemom.com.
Remember… selfish is not a dirty word
“Putting your oxygen mask on first results in more confidence as a woman, more patience and playfulness as a mom and more ravishing sensuality as a lover. Selfish is not a dirty word. You’ll see the nurturing gifts that regular mom time gives to your family, your friends and your soul,” says Allana Pratt, author of The Missing Handbook to Motherhood.