When I think back on my life pre-kids, one of the things I’m both astonished by, and nostalgic for, is the amount of time I used to spend with my girlfriends. Work week lunches and happy hours followed weekends spent hiking, brunching, and movie going. I remember at the time feeling like I was incredibly busy, and I was. Busy with a demanding job, and my friends!
Over the last decade of parenthood, my focus on friends has shifted to a focus on family. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t still need to carve out a space in my life to nurture my friendships, because even after you’ve established a family of one’s own, the comfort, support, and joy that our friendships bring is still an essential part of living a happy and healthy life.
Like me, do you find the demands of work and family make it hard to squeeze in much needed time with your pals? Here’s 6 suggestions for logging-in some time with friends, while also knocking things off your to do list:
- Exercise Classes or Workouts. One thing I’ve realized about myself as an adult woman and mother, is that in order to feel my best I need to get a workout in most days. I put my exercise sessions on the calendar in “permanent marker,” not allowing them to easily get bumped from my busy schedule. Finding a friend to join in on workout sessions (yoga, cross fit, spin, running, etc.) is a great way to stay in touch on a regular basis, especially if you can squeeze in a coffee or stint at the juice bar after class. On a side note, taking group exercise classes can also be a great way to meet new friends. In fact, I first became friends with one of my favorite local ladies, NQM-contributing photographer Marla Smith, while taking a weekly barre class!
- Costco (or other bulk-buying) Runs. I schedule monthly shopping excursions to both Costco and Target to stock up on home and grocery needs for the month. And you know what’s way more fun than hitting these stores up with your kids in tow? You guessed it, strolling the aisles of these large stores while catching up with your friends. You can share recipes ideas, get honest feedback on your impulse clothing buys, and even split some of the grocery items that are more than you can consume, or easily store in a month’s time.
- Meal Prep. I’ve got a standing tradition of getting together with a couple of my girlfriends and making freezer dinners. We often choose a theme (meatballs, soups, meat + marinade), and each make a triple version of our recipes together. We get to catch up, have some fun snacks and drinks, and at the end of a couple hours go home with three freezer dinners. I am always on the hunt for new family dinner ideas, and meal prep parties have proven to be an amazing way to try out some of my friend’s go-to recipes. And, of course, as a busy mom, there is nothing better than having a freezer full of meals at your fingertips.
- Pinterest Parties! Back in the early days of Pinterest, I received a notice from the company stating that I was one of their top users, and might I do a survey? Always priding myself on limited screen time use, I was mildly embarrassed. But to be fair, these were the babyhood days when I seemed to spend most my time feeding and holding babies, often simultaneously scrolling Pinterest to pass the time. And while this little memory is neither here nor there, I still adore the site since it allows me to essentially store all my ideas in one clutter free space! And boy, do I have some ideas to see through and projects take on, as I’m sure many of my friends do too. So next time I carve out some time with my lady friends, I’d like it be in the form of the now popular “Pinterest parties.” Essentially everyone meets up, most likely at someone’s home, and tackles one of their “ideas,” potentially bringing enough supplies for the group to join in. Crafts, cooking, cosmetology, mixology, whatever floats your boat; your friends will be sure to enjoy being along for the ride and trying something new.
- Beauty Maintenance Meetups. Prior to having children, I used to be pretty good about keeping up on my beauty maintenance (haircuts, mani-pedis, waxing, etc.), but nowadays these appointments can be few and far between. And truth be told, I’m getting a little tired of being shamed for my neglected runner calluses (there is always a holding-up of that cheese crater thing, followed by an eye-raise), and let’s face it, I like to soak my toes in a warm bath and leave with pretty feet. So, going forward I have a (possibly lofty) goal to get a pedicure every 6-weeks, and I’ll definitely be calling on my lady friends to join me, especially if it’s one of the many spas nowadays that serves wine. I mean, who has time to sit idly at a bar when you could be getting a pedicure!
- Holiday Hurdles. As we moms can all attest with gusto at this point in the year, the holiday to-do list can feel never ending. That is why I suggest looking at your list and finding one task you can take on each year as a communal effort with your friends. For me this is my annual wreath-making party. My college girlfriends and I get together and make multiple wreaths each, one for our own homes, and then several others to give as gifts or hostess presents to friends and family. Elizabeth, No Qualms Mom Founder, has a party before Easter where friends pitch in stuffing tons of plastic eggs with goodies for her annual Egg Hunt while they have cocktails and catch up. I have also heard of several ladies engaging in “wrapping” parties, where attendees bring all their unwrapped Christmas presents, then spend an afternoon socializing and wrapping with friends (bonus if you know someone with killer bow-tying skills)! Next holiday season, take a look at your to-do list, and try to come up with something you can accomplish while spending some time with your friends.
I may never have the time to nurture my friendships again like I did in my teens and 20’s. But, as seen by my 6 suggestions above, it is more than possible to combine the joy and satisfaction of being productive with that of spending time with friends.
Feature photo by Pressmaster.