A serious conundrum every mom faces –how do I make time for friends, experience quality connection and keep my sanity all at the same time? I know many will say, “invite people into the mess, be flexible with your kiddos, etc,” which are not bad thoughts. But as a mom of (soon-to-be) three kids, I want to be honest with you about some things you may have to prioritize as a mom to create the life-giving friendships you really need.
You must prioritize regular child-free friend time
“Friendship is not a choice or a luxury; it’s a necessity that is critical to our ability to succeed and thrive.”Lydia Denworth, Friendship
Moms must actively choose friendship if they want to not only survive, but thrive. Time away from your kids helps you be a better mom. This has been true since the beginning days of motherhood for me. Friendship pours life back into the weariness of serving littles all the time. So, the question isn’t how valuable friend time is for you but, how can you prioritize this time?
Here is what some of you had to say on the subject:
Plain and simple, you need to make the time. Otherwise, expect there to be consequences to your friendships and your personal well-being.
Don’t try to maintain every friendship
Researchers from across the board have landed that an average American can maintain between 2-6 intimate relationships. Studies show that your spouse counts as one of these intimate people. A sibling might take another spot. So now you have 2-4 spots left for good friends. Your friend group is no longer twenty people you called “besties” after a fun weekend girls trip.
Maintaining friendships as a mom is not supposed to look the way it did when you were in college or a young, single.
Don’t keep forcing the old friendship expectations into the new one. It won’t fit and will leave you feeling frustrated and lonely. Instead, pour yourself into those 2-4 relationships.
The relationships on the outer circle are still important, research in 2009 (Christakis and Fowler) show that people who have larger social networks are generally happier people. “Daily exposure to small moments of happiness—your neighbor shouting a jolly hello, the barista remembering your name and your order, beginning your workday with a chat with a colleague about your favorite show—can combine to raise your mood.” All those little moments make life rich; so we can’t discount them. But, don’t allow those shallow connections to be the only thing you find your social value in.
Lean on the people who really matter to you and remind yourself that even if the friend circle is small in number does not make it less rich in your life. You are finding a good rhythm of being a friend and having a friend as a mom.
Remember it is just a season
My kids are 5 and 2.5 now and the ability to spend time with friends has become significantly easier. I often have to remind myself that friendship is difficult with small children just because it is difficult. But each season of motherhood comes with its own limitations and freedoms.
There will be a time, moms, when you will be able to give more to your friendships.
So, if you feel limited now, it’s probably because you are. Don’t sweat it so much. Have grace for yourself. Communicate to your friends often how much you value them in other ways when you can’t physically (and sometimes emotionally) be there with them. You still need to be depositing money into the friendship bank little by little, so when you do find yourself coming out of the weeds you will have quality friendships already being cultivated and cared for.
Moms, parenting is hard. Being a friend is hard. Juggling the two is not magically easier. On the toughest days, I lean on Jesus’ energy and strength to put my kids in the car and drive to a park to spend an hour with a friend (that consists mostly of chasing our kids around and hoping to get a 5min conversation in). Friendship is not pretty in this season. But there is one last encouragement I want to give you: your kids are watching you do friendship and will learn what friendship looks like from you. They will learn how to show hospitality, share their time, ask thoughtful questions and serve others by seeing you do it with your friends.
So keep at it, moms.
Fight for that friend time.
Your kids will truly appreciate it and one day applaud how much you cared for others and made time for your people.