How to have kids AND friends

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by Laura

It came as a SHOCK to my social system when I realized there was SO much time at home, alone, with a baby.  Sure it was fun to have a little person to talk to and play with, but I was lonely for adult interaction.

I wonder about you dear friend. If the military or jobs or life makes things messy, I just wonder how you’re doing with friendships.  Do you have 2-3 people in your life that are such good friends they are your non-husband non-mama Emergency Contact?

Six months pregnant with Eva.

Six months pregnant with Eva.

As a military spouse, I moved from Turkey to Las Vegas when I was five months pregnant and so I needed to get some friends. But, I needed to get the kind of friends who share and bear with having young kids!  

It just so happened that there was a military spouse, Stephanie, who lived within walking distance from me! She had a baby 3 months older than Eva.

Days before Eric and Charles deployed.

Days before Eric and Charles deployed.

Our husbands both deployed when our babies were around a year old, so our close proximity, the age of our kids, compatible personalities, and our common mode of operation with life made a great recipe for a new friendship!

I learned a LOT about friendship because of women like Stephanie, and here’s some things I’d offer up to you.

Eva and Norah having a sweet dinner together.

Eva and Norah having a sweet dinner together.

1. Do things you already do, but with a friend.

Everybody has to eat, and sometimes preparing meals and eating dinner “alone” was pretty hard on us while our husbands were away.  We would cook together, and got to know each other’s kitchens, then have a great meal together; lunch or dinner!  Other ideas: meet at the park, go for a walk… You get the idea.

2. Get your tasks done, but with a friend.

Sometimes it feels like there’s not enough TIME to hang out with anyone with the laundry and the cleaning and the food prep.  The first point above helps a little with this because there’s no schedule change. But, if you’re having busy week invite your friend over and say, “is it ok if I prep for dinner while you’re here”, or “I might have to fold a few piles of laundry while we sit on the floor with the kids”.

Totally fine!  You want to have the kinds of friends who will be ok with this, and then when you go to their house you can ask, “hey, let’s go do dishes while we talk!”  Make it a habit to help each other.

Here's Eva and Bailey after one of their baths together.

Here’s Eva and Bailey after one of their baths together.

3. Do things you dread or need motivation doing, with a friend.

If we needed to run a big errand and didn’t want to face Hobby Lobby alone, we’d call each other up and drive together.  Wanted to get out of the house for a run, but needed a motivator that morning-a quick text was all it took.  Bath time at the end of an emotionally draining day-and husband is out of town again, say, “come on over and let’s give the kids a bath, put them down to bed and make brownies!”.

Making baby food feel overwhelming?  Invite a friend to do it with you?  Want to do a Pinterest project, call up your crafty friend or put out a call on Facebook with the project picture?  Need to sort out your pantry but want a buddy to keep you company? Summer is coming with it’s long days and no school or programs to help.  Arrange a weekly park time with someone!   You get the idea.

Here’s a few things I’ve done with friends in this category: completely re-done my master bedroom, hosted bridal and baby showers, made a Valentines banner, made a felt flower wreath.  Things I’ve done with others that they initiated include making new recipes or desserts, and put together new furniture.

4.  Do stuff WITHOUT your kids, with a friend.

So far I’ve kept the kids in the picture during hang out times.  But, sometimes we have friends who don’t have children yet and we want to do things they normally do, or we need some uninterrupted adult conversation!

My friend Debbie and I are out for dinner!

My friend Debbie and I are out for dinner!

Here’s a few ideas.  Wait until the kids go to bed and get a babysitter or ask your husband to watch the kids while you go out.  Maybe you can trade off and you get a babysitter and she comes to your house, and next time flip.  If your kids go to bed late, maybe husband can do bedtime routine and you can slip out around 7:00 or 8:00 for a few hours.

If you or your husband isn’t comfortable with another person doing bedtime routine, then how about dinner time, a Saturday coffee, or a weekend afternoon?  You could make dinner for your family and while they sit down to eat, you could go have dinner with a friend.  Saturday during the afternoon maybe you do a few errands with a friend.

My summer girls Bible Study from last year met late at night so we could have time to focus on conversation.

My summer girls Bible Study from last year met late at night so we could have time to focus on conversation.

I think time without kids is important so you can work to deepen your friendship.  It is difficult for me to have a deep conversation while my kids are around. 5 play dates worth of adult conversation might equal 1 hour without kids where we can talk!  Recognize it is going to take LONGER to get to know a friend well than it did before you had kids! It helps you go deeper more quickly in your relationship, and it lets you get to know each other apart from your role as mom.

5. Make a few great friends.

With the craziness of the military, I was averaging one year together with a good friend!  That was hard! So us military spouses, we know that you find someone you get along with, kids get along and then you stick like glue to that person until one of you moves away.  You let them go, because you need room in your heart for the next one leading me to this friendship principle.

The more time to maintain deep friendships with people from the past removes me from opportunities to be friends in the present. 

When this great girly moved away we met half way last summer and our families spent a week renting out a cabin and hiking!

When this great girly moved away we met half way last summer and our families spent a week renting out a cabin and hiking!

Hopefully you’er not shocked and hurt that I could say that.  Of course, there are exceptions or spurts of more conversation because there are some really really lovely people from my past.  But, every one I consistently connect with from the past takes a little time away from present or beginning friendships.  Again, there are some who are worth holding on to.

I need 2-3 friends that are my PRESENT great friends, EMERGENCY CONTACT friends.  They are the people I spend the most time with, they are the people I share life details with, I kiss their new babies before anyone else, and they are the ones I call before I’m about to go to Dress Barn and say, “pick you up in 10?”

So I find them quickly, be-friend them quickly, and stick to them like glue until our season for friendship is over or until we get to heaven!

Angela and I enjoying some time together...at the hospital.

Angela and I enjoying some time together…at the hospital.

When we got out of the military and I moved back to my home state people were not used to this make friends fast model.

I wanted to say.  “OK.  I like you, we live like 5 minutes from each other, our kids are happy when they play together, we have some common goals so here’s how it works. We eat lunch on the deck while the kids play in the yard, we craft together, and re-arrange your living room, and go on trips together on Saturday’s while the husbands watch the kids, ready?”

I needed to be gracious and not push my way into people’s lives who were doing just fine without me and had their friendships established.  Eventually, I did find some great friends here, it took a little longer, but they were worth the wait!

In closing, I’ve had GREAT friends the past five years of my kid added life. Some have kids my age, some friends don’t have kids, and some are in different life stages than me.

If you are lonely, ask yourself what you want in a friend, and go find her somewhere.  Join a Bible Study, a gym, a play group, look in your neighborhood, and at the closest park to your house.  Chances are there’s a friend whose looking for you too!

 

 

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2 thoughts on “How to have kids AND friends

  1. LeeAnn Taylor

    I’ve always had a hard time making close, deep friendships. I had one really close childhood friend and one really close adult friend. Neither of which I am close to anymore. I NEED close girlfriends to hang & do life with but I am passive & don’t make time for myself like I should. I just keep my head down at my five kiddos & do life without seeking friendships.

    • itssodelightful@gmail.com

      LeeAnn. Passive, introvertedness, exhaustion, there are lots of ways our personality tendencies might get in the way of time for relationships. But, for me, it only takes one. One person, one friend, one person to meet me for a walk after we drop the kids off at school, or one person who wants to walk around a grocery store with me, or after bed time can come over for an hour and fold laundry and watch girly TV. Get yourself in a place where you can watch a few people and then “date them” see if they are a good match as a friend for you. You were made to have companions in life, God the Father, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and human beings too. I’m going to pray that you are able to fight your passivity this week and start the journey to finding a best friend! Laura

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