Friendships lost after having kids is a topic that keeps coming up and it’s something that irks me. I may have quite a bit of advice for new parents (who ask) but this one is probably the dearest to me. PLEASE DO NOT FORGET YOUR FRIENDS. I’ve lost count of the catch up sessions that have ended with friends saying “I’m glad we met up. At least you still make the time for your friends”. I cringe every single time I hear that. Obviously this comes after hangout sessions with those who have no kids and of course there’s a bitter tinge to that comment. Kid free folk seem to harbor a bit of resentment and annoyance at having “lost” someone they love and they miss hanging out with them. I can’t blame them. I’d be upset if my close friends started abandoning me too.
I completely agree that kids suck the energy out of you and by the time you get done with all the chores and tuck them into bed, you have no desire to do anything beyond vegging in front of the telly or scrolling through Instagram. I’m guilty of this myself. I’ve had a couple friends reach out asking why I haven’t checked in and I completely agree that friendship is a two way street. You can’t just wait for your friends to reach out to you all the time, take initiative and make plans, even if it’s a quick phone call while you’re watching the kids splash in the tub. Make time for your friends, at least the ones that matter. The ones who know your childhood secrets; The ones who helped you celebrate your first ever REAL job; The ones who cried on your shoulder after a breakup…you know the ones I’m talking about.
Over the years I’ve moved from country to country and gathered a bunch of friends who I’m still close to despite living continents apart. While the ones who don’t live in the same province are harder to meet in person, the ones who live a short drive away are worth meeting at least every other month. Don’t get me wrong, despite my every effort, I can’t be in touch with everyone I used to (or even want to!) but I’m trying and that seems to be appreciated. A couple girlfriends keep inviting me on weekend getaways and I keep declining the offers for various reasons (SORRY!!), so I know that it isn’t easy to just up and go away. But, you know what IS easy?
- Plan dates after your child’s bedtime : The kids will eventually go to bed and your friends are happy to kick off the night at 8 p.m. You don’t have to always go out either, invite them over. They also won’t mind if you need to go and tuck that child in for the fifth time – just come back quickly and ensure their wine glass is filled up, okay?
- Don’t stress about the state of the nation : House isn’t clean? Who cares? Your real friends aren’t there to judge; they’d even volunteer to fold laundry or clean up the leftovers from lunch…but only if you give them a chance to see the REAL you. The you today. The mom version.
- Keep it simple : No lavish spread is required. Just order food in or have them bring a dish or bottle of wine. They just want to hang out with you and catch up, not see you channel your inner Martha Stewart.
- Don’t assume : This is an important one. So many parents have told me how their kid free friends don’t like kids and that’s why they don’t hang out. Unless your friend has specifically told you this, please don’t assume; Just because they don’t want kids themselves it doesn’t mean they don’t like your offspring. As someone who hangs with many who don’t want kids, I can tell you that those same friends volunteer to babysit during times of need and they insist on attending everything from Baptisms to birthday parties. Year after year. Don’t exclude them from the social gatherings !
- Quick breaks : Meet for a coffee or a quick lunch while the kids sleep in the stroller or are at day care. Trust me, your single working gals are waiting for an excuse to not eat lunch at their desk!
Just take that first step and once you start hanging out, you’ll soon realize that once they’ve seen your current messy state of affairs they’ll understand you so much better. Let your friends in and show them your everyday craziness now that you have kids. Hey, I’m not saying every single one of your friends will hang around, but the important ones will. Sure, there will be times when your friend is going on-and-on about a co-worker who’s driving them up the wall and you’ll be distracted thinking about how your kid’s lunch box is still in the school bag two days later…but don’t worry. There will be times when they’ll be thinking about something random while you go on and on about how your child is sucking the life out of you. It’s all about the give and take. Just enjoy the relationship and and ease up on the pressure, expectations and how they might judge. You’ll be surprised by the compassion, empathy and the breath of fresh air their unique perspective brings!
Remember, you’ll want your friends, their shoulders and their ears…when your teens drive you crazy, when your kids fly the coop and when you’re itching for a night out. While you’d like to preach that your significant other is your best friend…let’s be real. We’re talking about two very different types of relationships at play. Both very important. Both can co-exist. You need BOTH. At least I do. I need my soul sisters as much as I need my soul mate.