As soon as you give birth, the parental advice starts rolling in fast and furious from those who’ve been there before. There’s “sleep when the baby sleeps,” and “never wake a sleeping baby,” of course. But the one you’ll probably hear most of all, even once you’ve passed the newborn stages–from friends with kids, parenting books, and websites–is “Don’t forget date night.”
While I agree wholeheartedly that date nights are invaluable, and am never one to turn down an offer of dinner and/or a movie from my husband, there’s another type of outing that’s almost as important to me: The moms’ night out, or MNO.
Since becoming a mom nearly five years ago, I’ve attended lots of MNO evenings, as I refer to them in my calendar. I’ve organized them with different groups of mom friends–from the playground, from my apartment building, from synagogue, and from my daughter’s preschool. No matter who’s there–and whether there are two or 12 of us–I always come home pleased that I made the time in my overly scheduled life to do it.
I’ve also learned that most moms are more than a little eager to throw back some cocktails in a ladies-only setting. You just have to ask.
Below, the six best things about MNO-style female bonding:
1. You get to compare notes.
No one knows what you’re going through like someone who’s going through almost the exact same thing at the same time. Kid throwing daily tantrums? Potty training not going quite so smoothly? You better believe at least one other mom you know is experiencing the same thing and can give you some help, or at the very least just commiserate. Either way you’ll inevitably laugh it off after a couple of cocktails.
2. You can get to know each other in more than five-minute increments.
Even if you’re lucky enough to attend some playdates with your kids, they’re usually so busy that it’s hard to have any substantial conversation. It’s difficult to get to know each other when you’re having to spell out the more scandalous words in your sentences, and are being interrupted every few minutes with pleas for water, juice, snacks, etc.
3. You can try out new places. Even those your husband’s not interested in.
I’ve found that those of us who spend most evenings indoors with kids (in other words, the vast majority of moms), love trying out new bars and restaurants. I keep a running tab (in my head–please, I’m not that organized), of neighborhood restaurants and bars that I want to try. My husband doesn’t like Mexican food and my mom friends love margaritas–that is a win-win.
4. It’s cheaper.
Unlike “date night,” moms’ nights out don’t usually require expensive babysitters (you’ve got a husband/partner for that). Plus, there’s no end-of-the-evening rush to get home and relieve the babysitter when that babysitter is actually a parent.
5. You can build strong bonds that extend to the kids.
Like everything else in life, the more you put into your friendships with fellow moms, the more you–and your kids–get out of it. I truly believe that kids pick up on how involved you are in their school and with their friends. It’s one of the main reasons I like to organize nights out for fellow parents in my daughter’s class. As I get to know the other moms, my daughter tends to get closer to their kids.
6. You can go from “mom friends” to real friends.
At a certain point you’ll (hopefully) realize that these relationships are not built solely on your mutual interest in nap and poop schedules. You’ll come to confide in one another, really get to know each other, and yes, vent about your husbands. You’ll also make some lasting friendships and set the foundation for similar ones for your kids.
So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and text/email the ladies now.