Q: One thing I’m having a hard time with is balancing my social life and mom life. I used to be very social. I would go see various friends each week. But after becoming a mom, seeing them is increasingly hard. Now I feel I have lost them all. So, my question is: How do I keep friends as a parent?
A: This is a very relatable question. Nurturing and keeping friends – both friends who are also parents and friends who aren’t parents- is a challenge many parents experience. All of us want to have good friends and be good friends, while balancing family, work and life.
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One thing to keep in mind is, we all want the best for our children and that means spending quality time as a family. But, we also know that when we are well-rounded individuals, we are models for our children to live a good, full life. Think about it this way, the relationship between you and your friends sets an example to your children of what friendship should look like. This included how to treat friends, how to choose quality friends, and what healthy friendships look like.
Yet, as busy parents we don’t prioritize our own friendships because we are busy scheduling play dates and making sure they get to parties and practices with their friends. Here are a few tips on how to make friendship a priority while balancing work and family.
Friendships With Other Parents
As parents, our children’s activities can consume our time. While spending hours at swim practice or ballet lessons, you can use this time to make friends with the parents around you. These friendships can be beneficial and convenient for both you and your children.
If you have a partner you can take turns deciding who is on or off-duty and split the time evenly so the other can be with friends. If you don’t have a partner you can ask a family member or babysitter to watch your kids for a short period for you to catch up with friends. Being surrounded by friends makes parents feel less limited within the parent lifestyle. Becoming a parent doesn’t change the fact that you should take time for hobbies or to do things you’re passionate about.
Find activities that multiple families can do together. Invite another family to join your family in an activity such as a visit to the local park, a trip to the amusement park, or an overnight under the stars. Start with short activities and build up to devote time to maintain friendships.
Another important aspect of being a busy parent is using your time effectively. For example, you can block off an extra 30 minutes after you go to the gym to grab a smoothie with a friend.
If you are a working parent with a job outside the home, take advantage of the time you already have child care scheduled and invite a work friend out to lunch or meet a friend who works nearby.
Benefits of Friends
Friendships benefit mental, emotional and physical health for both adults and children. Branching out beyond just the other soccer parents and developing our own independent friendships can help to build a lifelong support system for your family and model healthy relationships for our children. Striking a balance between the time we spend with our children and our adult friends contributes to well rounded lives and will allow you and your family to be happier and healthier.