Family friendships are dynamic. That’s the best way I can describe it. It is never easy, your best friend ‘s husband may have totally different interests then your husband and when you add kids into the mix it is extra crazy sauce in the recipe of friendship.
Hunter is at an age where it is really difficult to have a conversation with a friend. He wants attention, he wants to be talked to and he wants to run around with his pants off and throw basketballs at your face. Totally harmless, he just has no hand-eye coordination. Either way, our single friends don’t want to have a heart-to-heart conversation while also playing dodgeball with our two-year-old. So how do we stay engaged with our friends as a family? How do we make time for it and still keep our sanity?
Decide on some mutual friends together.
When Tim and I got married we not only combined finances and grocery lists but we also combined communities. We had a lot of friend dates and some were fun, but we didn’t click as well as we did with others. As our friend list got narrower as a couple, we still made it a priority to see our friends individually.
Tim Tip: We have one couple that we schedule a monthly hangout with to make sure we see one another. Schedules get busy, but the friendship is important! Therefore, we plan ahead. Once a month may not seem like a lot, but for busy adults it is the small consistent ways to build life- long friendships.
Have a kid friendly activity ready
Hunter really loves foam stickers. So, if I want to have fifteen minutes to chat uninterrupted, then we get some stickers and a piece a paper and he is happily preoccupied. We will also do a lot of stroller walk friend dates because he is secure and preoccupied for forty-five minutes.
In all of hospitality, think of your guests’ needs ahead of time.
If you are getting together with a couple who also has kids, have an activity ready for both kids. Have them bake cookies or paint together or throw water balloons. Main idea here is be prepared.
Friend Tip: If you are married without kids at the time, have a tub of toys in your home for your friends that do have kids. It can be collected from your childhood home or a fast food place. It is like a treasure chest for kid visitors.
Be Flexible With Changes to Your Social Calendar
Before Hunter we would eat out, play board games, or say “yes” to any late-night adventure. Now, our best bet to catch up with friends is doing a lunch date or plan something at our home after hours. When we spend time with other families, we will have an early dinner or morning adventure because that is usually when kids are in their best moods.
Just because your schedule has changed, it doesn’t mean friendship is impossible. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
Get Time Away For You and Your Friends
It is important to have time to connect with friends without your kids or your spouse. Pay for a babysitter or schedule time to go have a girls night. The extra effort is worth it.
Tim Tip: We were fairly inseparable for our first year of marriage. It had been months before we did anything without the other person. So, when we sat down and made goals for year two, we decided to switch off Thursday nights to do something fun with friends. So on a Thursday, I can go have beer with a friend and Bailey stays home with Hunter. Then the next Thursday, Bailey will go and do something fun with her friends. It is a healthy balance for both of us and is a scheduled activity in the family calendar, so we aren’t feeling “guilty” for asking to spend time with friends.
I hope one of these ideas resonated with you but, mostly have grace for yourself. The transition of marriage and motherhood brought many moments of frustration and disappointment because our friendships weren’t going to look the same. It took a couple of months to readjust, create healthy boundaries, and find ways to still have quality time with my friends. So, have grace for the new seasons because there will be a moment when your kid gets sick or you want an evening to connect with your spouse and you will need to reschedule. Figure out what works for you right now and then make a plan to bridge family and friend time together.