My kindergartener is having a blast in school. He’s learned to read and write multiple sentences at a time. His math skills are on point. He loves all of his “specials” equally. Oh, and he’s socializing like crazy.
As a matter of fact, it’s so prominent that it made an appearance on his report card.
And while I totally agree with and support his teacher (he needs to focus more and talk less), I feel it’s a valuable thing for him to be learning. Communication and social skills are pretty important…when done at the right times. 😉
As a grown-up, I feel like I’ve gotten worse at socializing. I’m awkward at topic choices, always second guess whether I offended someone when sharing my opinions, and stumble over my words darn near constantly.
The more that we, as parents, stay in and avoid seeing friends, the harder it becomes. But, I’m here today as a painfully introverted person who was once voted “most outgoing” in high school to say that we must keep trying; we need to “hang out” more.
We give all we have to our kids. We feel more daily stress than many in generations before us. We juggle our work, meals, practice schedules, play dates, and more. Add the isolation of being a new parent and it’s true; we’re simply not filling our own buckets. This isn’t good for us OR our families.
As I write this, I’m admiring the fresh, new, albeit “Mom safe” shade of paint my nails are newly sporting. My husband took all three kiddos to his parents’ house so that I could get my nails done with my sister and grab a bite to eat, bless him. It’s the first time in countless months and was literally what my sister and I “gave” each other for Christmas.
My sister is my best friend and while we chatted plenty about our awesome kiddos and juggling our respective responsibilities (no one said you’re not allowed to vent), we also found time to reminisce and talk about totally non-family-related stuff. It was great (as were the sweet potato fries).
When she dropped me off, we vowed to “do this more” and even start walking together (another excuse to socialize with a health bonus to boot) in the spring. I skipped into my house feeling lighter and reenergized.
So, to you I offer these bits of advice:
Make the time and share the wealth.
Just start with one quick hang-out, then start scheduling more. The positivity that you feel will be passed along to your kids and partner. Just be sure that it’s a two-way street and your significant other has a chance to hang, guilt-free, with a buddy soon, too.
Pick the right friend.
Some people steal our happiness and send us into a negativity spiral. Life is simply too short and your time too precious to allow them to poison you. This is why picking someone you’re totally comfortable with (like a BFF or sister) may be an easier start than, say, a new colleague or an old friend who gossips non-stop.
Schedule it and make it a priority if you need to.
When you force yourself to hang out, it gets easier every time you do it. Even if the first time is a quick coffee together or asking someone to hang a little while during naptime, the length of time doesn’t matter as much as it being quality.
Play dates can be Mom dates.
It’s actually advised to let kids play independently together during play dates so they learn how to solve problems and think for themselves. I remember when my mom would bring me to play with a friend and she’d have tea in the kitchen with his mom (her friend from high school). They didn’t hover, they got some time to decompress, and we grew up relatively well-adjusted. Wins all around.
Do like the older generation did.
One of my favorite books from college was called Bowling Alone in which it described how Americans have become less involved socially and politically since the beginning of the 20th century. Think about it: adults used to be in bowling leagues, have weekly bridge games, and join clubs. As you’re able to secure a sitter or just as your children get more independent, make it a point to join something that interests you, or at least have friends over for a regular game night. My husband and I met doing community theater so we’ll jump back in when we can, but a game night with nearby friends sounds like a blast.
Get the kids involved.
My husband recently mentioned getting a projector to hold summer movie nights for some kids in the backyard and I jumped at the idea. Giving kids a group activity and hanging out in the back with the other grown-ups is fun all around.
If all else fails, pick up the phone.
My 12-year-old self would balk at me, but I hate talking on the phone as an adult. However, I find time on my way to work to check in with my mom a couple times a week and it puts a spring in my step to hear her voice, to give her updates on the kids, and to stay abreast of the latest family news. I guess phones aren’t so bad if the right person is on the other end.
So, we’d love to hear your favorite way to socialize sans social media (which often doesn’t feel like“real” socializing much anymore,does it?). Is it a gym meet-up? A quick run for coffee? A weekly book club? Let us know how you’re filling your need for adult interaction in the comments!