“You won’t even have time to brush your teeth once the baby’s born,” my friend Theresa told me before I became a mom.
Seriously? I thought. But after having two babies 20 months apart, helping to raise my two stepsons and going back to work, I learned Theresa wasn’t just right — she was a genius. With infants to nurse, diapers to change, baths to give and so much more to do, I barely had time to take a deep breath.
It’s why, when my children were very little, the notion of finding time to see friends seemed so utterly extravagant, if not downright selfish. How could socializing with girlfriends even be a gleam in the eye when little lives depended on me?
Good friends bring us joy, companionship, wisdom and caring.
Still, there were ways to schedule a little one-on-one friend time as the days passed. While luxurious afternoons or nights out in the city were far less feasible now — at least while my boys were babies — with my husband’s help I could certainly make a phone call, write a quick email or enjoy a short visit. When pushed, you can pack a lot in with close friends in a very short time — as I do with several dear friends who live in other states: “Hi, hon! How are you? All is well… Miss you! Ok, talk soon.” It’s the touching base, the connection, that matters.
It’s vital for moms, while raising their children or tending to other family responsibilities, to maintain the friendships that are such a big part of our lives. Good friends bring us joy, companionship, wisdom and caring. They keep us grounded, give us perspective and buoy us when times are hard. They allow us to connect and share with another human being in an honest, rock-solid, trustworthy way. They say: “You matter.” They’re also just fun.
While time opens up as the kids grow, today’s technology certainly helps us stay connected. It’s easy to dash off a text while making dinner or throwing in a load of wash.
Still, there are other more significant ways for moms to keep their friendships alive. Here are five ways that have worked for some of us:
Commute together. For several years Sue and I rode the same train to work five days a week, then walked together to our nearby office buildings. Believe me, we covered ground in those 40-minute commutes — even if we had to whisper in the quiet car, where other people were working while we were talking about nothing and everything.
Pair exercise with friendship. Combining fresh air and aerobics with catch-up time, Leigh Ann and I walk together on weekends whenever we can. Even just 30 minutes of stretching our legs around the neighborhood lets us reconnect — and if we end up near a deli, even better. We take turns treating each other to fresh iced tea or lemonade.
Get nice nails while you chat. Penny and I meet at a salon midway between our homes about once a month. While someone else buffs and polishes our nails, we talk like the college pals we once were — and walk away rejuvenated and reconnected.
Do weekend chores or even college tours with your kids together. It’s the ultimate in multitasking: Combine “musts” with “trusts.” At grocery stores or farmers’ markets, find the best fruit, vegetables, bread or fish while catching up on kids, work and life. Or, pair up on drives to local colleges with your high school-age kids. You get double the benefits — time with your kids and your friends.
Schedule a girls’ weekend away. I couldn’t do this until my sons were older, but now that they are, my five dearest friends from grammar school and I get away for a few days together each year.
We plan nearly a year in advance, do as much shopping and cooking beforehand as possible — then settle in, talk and laugh the weekend away. (Yes, we text or call home to check on kids and pets and partners.) It’s the best friendship boost ever and then we chew on the memories for months and months while we plan the next get-together.
As a bonus, our kids get one-on-one time with dad, grandma or both — then we get to hear all about it when we get home.
How do you stay connected with your friends?