Mom Playdates: Friends and Achieving Work Life Balance
“Why do you always have to go out with your friends?” My 8 year-old daughter asked me this recently and frankly I was a bit stunned by the question.
As a friend, I feel as if I’ve been a failure. I see my best and oldest girlfriends maybe once or twice a year. I go out occasionally with some mom friends in my town. But often I find myself declining invites to mom’s night outs, to book clubs, to paint nights and other events. As a working mom, I miss opportunities to meet friends for coffee or a casual lunch while the kids are at school. I don’t get to hang out with them at the pool or beach in the summer. In fact, I weigh every invite carefully and consider the trade-offs. If I go out tonight, I’ll have to decline an invite next week to see a friend. Making trade-offs is a reality of my life as a working parent and they are most frequently in detriment to my friendships. What I realized recently, however, was that it’s essential to make the commitment to include friends in achieving work life balance.
Friendships are much more important to me than “me” time. I’d rather spend an hour meeting with a friend than reading a book or watching a movie. I crave those connections and conversations with real-life moms outside of Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Who else is going to share stories of marriage woes or help put my 3-year old son’s recent string of temper tantrums into perspective? But making this commitment to friends also has its trade-offs. A night out with friends means a night where I miss bedtime stories and snuggles with the kids. A Sunday morning coffee means stealing away a quiet breakfast with my husband as the kids watch cartoons. And, collectively, taking time for myself means juggling everything else that needs to get done from laundry and grocery shopping to spending quality time with my husband or kids. It’s a fine balance.
Back to my daughter’s question, “Why do you always have to go out with your friends?” My response, “Well, Olivia, do you know how you love to have playdates with your friends? Mommy does too.” So, this year I’m making the commitment to include friends in achieving work life balance…and definitely having more playdates. How about you? How do you maintain friendships as a working parent?
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