photo credit: my amazing mother-in-law 🙂
Becoming a parent means making serious lifestyle changes. And one of those changes that we are still figuring out is how to get time with friends as a parent.
Just figuring out a time with everyone’s busy schedules can be crazy. Plus if you want time to yourselves, that usually involves a babysitter. But if you can’t work that out for whatever reason, you find yourself trying to have a conversation while keeping your kids from doing serious damage to themselves, others, or their environment. It’s a tricky thing.
By getting creative, you can still manage to get some enjoyable quality time with friends, while making sure the kids are all right as well. Here are some things that work well for us:
Video Phone Calls
A couple weeks ago, we had made plans with friends. And literally two hours prior, I realized I forgot to get a babysitter. Bummed, I texted them to cancel. We decided to do a video phone call instead, and actually found that it was a great way to have a good conversation, from the comfort of our own homes with the kids in bed. It sounded silly at first to me. But it’s actually a great option, whether you’re one-on-one, or as couples.
Sign Up for Activities Together
Opt to have your kids participate in extracurriculars together. (If they’re still at an age where you are part of making those decisions.) It’s a good way to have scheduled time, and often someone else is directing the kids so you don’t have to.
Meet in a Space that has Boundaries
Choose a spot that has a fence, is closer quarters, or has a special location just for kids. We try to pick parks with fences, libraries with separate kids’ rooms, and play places at local malls and restaurants. Obviously supervision is necessary, but when there are clear boundaries, it’s a little less stressful.
Ask a Couple to Babysit for You Both
We have a few friends who don’t currently have kids at home that we ask to watch ours when we want to go out with other couples. Usually they’re cool with splitting up and each taking charge of one family. Or they work together and take all the kids in one house.
Invite Friends Over After the Kids’ Bedtime
Our kids go to bed fairly early, which leaves a few hours to spend with friends if we plan it right. Divide up cooking duties, or have a game or movie night.
Get a Group Together and Rotate Babysitting Duties
Something my parents tell me they did was set up a rotating schedule with other families to watch each others’ kids. That way, the other families could get separate date nights or time with friends, while one family would babysit for all the kids one night every few months or so. Still working on that plan, but it seems like a great way for everyone to get to know each other, for the kids to bond and play, and for the parents to get time together.
Utilize Meal Time
If scheduling is an issue, narrow it down to times when everyone does the same thing – meal time! Again, it can take a lot to feed the kids and pull food together. But there are ways to make it work. Have a picnic at a park, where everyone brings their own food. Or have a potluck at someone’s house. Tackle feeding the kids’ first, and then let them play or watch a movie while the grown-ups chat over dinner.
What helpful places or tips do you have for getting time with friends as a parent?