In recent years, I have read more than my share of pieces that basically say: “Sorry, friends, I’m a mom now. I’ll get back in touch with you when my kids are self-sufficient — see you in about 18 years or so.”
As a mom of three myself, I am calling bullshit on this.
And, trust me, I get it. I understand having sick kids, juggling a full-time job with after-school and extracurricular activities, finding time for my marriage, and just wanting to relax after a long day. But, connecting with friends is actually an incredible way to relax — and so I make it a priority. Spending time with good friends charges my battery and makes my life better.
In this age of social media and technology, not staying in touch because “we’re so busy” is simply not valid anymore. (I mean, get this: I stay in touch with my friends, and I don’t have a smartphone and I never text.) Maintaining relationships outside of your immediate family is totally doable, and I’ll tell you how I do it here.
Essentially, though, the number one rule is this: You must follow through. That’s the most important component to staying in touch with friends (especially long-distance friends). I am true to my word: If I say I’m going to make plans, you can expect to hear from me with some dates, and times, ideas for destinations.
Planning and spending quality time with friends is one way I show my love. If someone vaguely says, “Hey, let’s get together!” and does not back their words up with action, I feel deflated. It’s also a surefire way to make me evaluate the friendship and most likely determine it’s not worth my time and effort.
Here are my tips and various ways to stay in touch with friends from all parts of your life.
My BFF and I have been friends for more than 25 years. It’s so special to still be close with someone who suffered through pimples and puberty with me. Our bond is deep and seemingly easy to dismiss, but it still requires attention. We have to stay open-minded and know that silence doesn’t mean we are not thinking about one another.
The key is catching up when we can — even if it’s for 10 minutes — and continuing to periodically touch base. And though we live hundreds of miles apart, we look for opportunities to see one another in person.
One of my childhood besties and I will connect at the oddest hours on the phone or FB messenger because our kids are sleeping or otherwise occupied. We used to have class together, or walk home from school together, but now, in between my full-time job and her job homeschooling her five kids (whoa, right?) we try to catch up any way we can.
Though we don’t see each other IRL frequently, we know we are always in each other’s hearts. For me, the coolest part of still being besties with a childhood friend is getting our kids together. It’s wildly gratifying to see the next generation play together.
I grew up on the East Coast and now I live in Ohio. And yet, my hometown friends and I see one another about two to four times a year. The destination varies: sometimes we gather at our respective homes, sometimes we meet somewhere in between, and sometimes we go on more exotic vacations together.
With long-distance girlfriends, we stay in touch via phone and email, usually once or twice a month. The key is keeping it low-key and knowing there will always be another time we will see one another on the horizon.
The logistics of our get-togethers vary. Sometimes I drive 16+ hours with my three little ones to squeeze in a long weekend with my girlfriends in Philly or Maryland. Other times we plan weekends or family vacations together at a destination requiring travel for all parties. Home rental sites like Airbnb are invaluable at keeping costs low and ensuring we spend quality time together.
My upcoming hangouts include a weekend of cabin camping with a friend and family in Pennsylvania, and a girls’ get together with a bestie, her sister, and cumulative three little girls while our hubbies go for a bro-weekend on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.
When we get together in person, we know there will be late nights of chatting, and there’s no pressure to do “everything” like see the sights or and hit up every kid-friendly activity. Oftentimes, we spend at least one day just hanging out in our jammies, cooking and eating leisurely meals while the kids play together.
Yes, these long-distance hangs require some advance planning, time, and money, but they are so worth it.
OK, in contrast to the marathon hangouts with long distance friends, getting together with local mom friends should be easy, right? Yes and no. The trick with these pals is make a plan and stick to it. I will often build in a night once a month when, after my 5:30 p.m. yoga class, I go to dinner with a friend.
When my local mom friends and I get together, we call them “Mom’s Night Out.” These are the moms I met from breastfeeding support group, and while my nursing days are long over, we are bosom buddies for life. (See what I did there?)
The key to these get-togethers? We use a Doodle Poll online to find the best date for the majority of the group. Our meetups usually happen on Thursday nights, after 8 p.m. — after dinner and around kiddie bedtime. This time works well because it usually means our partners can stay home with the kid(s) and we can head out without cutting into weekend family time. (But if I didn’t have my husband to rely upon, I would hire a sitter — it’s that important to me.)
Thursday nights work well because if it’s a particularly late night, I only need to drag myself through Friday to get to the weekend. The destination can be a winery, restaurant, or a friend’s home. We have a standing open door policy: No one is on time or late and there are no hard feelings if someone cancels or completely no shows and remains radio silent, because we get it.
I think the most important part is mentally gearing up for a night out. Will you be a bit tired the next day? Probably. Will you regret it? Definitely not! Time with friends is always worth the effort, and I am dumbfounded by moms who just cannot get it together for themselves but they planned the most thoughtful and crafty birthday party for their 2-year-old (who will not remember any of it).
But, hey, if the thought of staying up past 8:30 to have a sushi dinner with friends makes you want to stab yourself in the eye with a chopstick — or if you or your partner work evenings and it’s rare you have time off — then that’s OK! Because there’s another workaround: Everyone needs to eat lunch!
Yes, making time for friendship requires some thought and work. It’s easy to throw out excuses, but many moms go to the ends of the earth for playdates for their kids. Let’s start making our “playdates” just as important.