Connect with Friends

We moved back to SF almost 2 years ago.  The friends we made here the first time around were a bit younger and at a different stage in their life when we returned.  Though most were in committed relationships, we were the only couple married and now with our first child.  Despite this, many of our friends here in SF are amazed that we are able to hang out with them and/or are generally social.  I guess once you have a child many assume you go off into the child friendly abyss that childless friends are not welcomed to.  But this is not true.  Well, you can make that true, but you don’t have to.  And you don’t need a babysitter!  I repeat:  YOU DON’T NEED A BABYSITTER!  Here are a three things my husband and I do to stay connected with our friends, even though they may not have children (yet).  And it doesn’t have to involve going to a bar!

1.  Do something with your friends that you used to do before you had a kid.
I know this is pretty obvious, but some people need to be told this.  Whether it is poker night for your husband or book club for yourself.  Okay, maybe a book club for mom sounds a bit ambitious when you are tired and barely can fit in a shower let alone the newest novel for the month.  Maybe going over to someone’s house and watching The Bachelor is better?  The point is, do something that you used to do with your friends.  It will make you feel normal again, especially if you are stuck cleaning dirty diapers and clothes all day.  But most importantly, you can still connect with your childless friends the way you used to before you yourself had a kid.  You might not be able to do it once a week, but once a month is more than enough to reconnect.  Just make sure you and your partner are organized enough so that your friend nights don’t clash with each other.  After all, someone needs to watch the babe!

2.  Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch, Dinner?
You can still go out for a meal with your friends and bring the babe along.  Clearly you aren’t going to go to fancy places anymore, mostly because you don’t have the time to really look appropriate for such an outing.  And I know it sounds overwhelming, especially if your babe is a toddler prone to tantrums.  But there are decent, if not really great restaurants out there that *gasp* are child friendly as well!  You also know your child best.  If your babe is still in that sleepy infant stage, lucky you!  You can do any meal with little to no problem because chances are they will be sleeping in their car seat.  If they do happen to wake up and cry, they probably need to be fed and you/mom are right there with their snack.  Once your child gets older, it does get a little tricky.  But it is still manageable.  For my now toddler, I make sure I bring his etch-a-sketch, crayons (if the restaurant doesn’t provide any), and if he is having a super fussy day he may get to play with his Leap Frog game.  You also know your child’s moods, and when he’s at his best.  For us, lunch and brunch are the best meal times.  Dinner isn’t necessarily impossible, but you also don’t want to make a dinner reservation for an hour before your kid’s normal bed time.  The point is, you can still go out for meals with your friends.

3.  Dinner Party!
Or any party at your house for that matter.  Budgets are a bit tighter when you have a kid, and perhaps eating out with your friends isn’t economically viable for you.  Do not fret–just invite your friend(s) over for dinner!  It’s hard to say no to a home cooked meal.  You can even ask your guests to bring their favorite wine to share.  The best bit is you don’t have to go too far off your babe’s normal evening routine.  You can even treat your whiney child by excusing them early from dinner if they are done and let them go off and play on their own while you continue to enjoy dinner conversation with your friends.  You may have to temporarily excuse yourself while you get your babe ready for bed, but your partner and your guests can still chat away and imbibe more.  And if dinner or cooking isn’t your thing, you can always just order in food or have a pot luck.  The point is, invite people over to your house.  Whether it’s just a dinner party, Super Bowl Party, or celebrating Pi Day, get people to come over and reconnect.

Ultimately, friendship is a two way street.  If your friend(s) continue to decline your invitations, don’t fret.  Maybe try group invites.  The one friend who is a bit hesitant may be terrified of small children.  And that’s ok.  But by extending the invite to a larger group, you slightly diffuse the anxiety.  In the end if they still decline, don’t lose sleep over it.  Just concentrate on the people who still appreciate you trying to stay connected.

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Wonder Weeks

We are a generation that tends to read and learn in preparation for anything, and being a first time parent is no exception to that rule.  I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that families (in the Western World at least) are more nuclear families, either by choice or because of other circumstances like work (which is our case).  And because of that child rearing isn’t learned through extended family members.  Thank goodness for the internet and books!

A few of our friends are pregnant with their first child, and I have been asked for recommendations for their respective baby registries.  The one book that both my husband and I give a ringing endorsement for and highly recommend they put on their registry  is The Wonder Weeks.  It is written by two Dutch psychologists and the book is based on psychological research (that has been empirically tested; SCIENCE!).

Why we love this book above all others?  It’s based on science, it isn’t patronizing, and, for the most part, spot on regarding our son’s mental development.  I think my husband loves it more because it also provides activities parents can do with their child to help them through each developmental leap.

The book was recommended to us by other friends, and now we are paying it forward to future parents out there.  Go get it!  You can get the app, which is a great succinct version of the book.  But if you want to be completely thorough I highly suggest you order the book from Amazon.  You don’t have to read the book in one go either.  You can just read the chapter when your kid is about to enter their next developmental leap.  And if you sign up for their e-mail alerts, they will e-mail you a week before they are entering a leap to remind you to read up.