Don’t let the title alarm you. I’m not that kind of “alone drinker”. I mean, yes, I drink more alone than I used to, but that’s because I’m watching Real Housewives after my son’s bedtime which, of course, calls for wine (or SkinnyGirl). And I’m only alone many times because of my husband’s out-of-town job. But right now I’m not drinking at all because I’m pregnant. Okay, let me explain my point.
A common topic for my husband and I to chat about ever since we became parents is our social life (or lack thereof, at times). Although getting together with friends had already somewhat decreased after becoming what I call “real adults” (not the type of adult you are at 18 or 21 or even 25, but a real one, you know?), it decreased even more with each subsequent friend that had a child. And because we had our first child somewhat later than many of our friends, we were some of the last childfree folks standing at ages 29 and 31, respectively. But even then we had enough fellow childfree friends to hang with, and even our parent friends would sometimes be able to get together for an evening among adults. Many times we would host get-togethers and parties at our home because I love throwing a party. But those parties came to nearly a screeching halt when I found out I was pregnant with our son in the fall of 2010. I was always a social drinker. There was no way I was going to host a bunch of parties without being able to drink. Plus, I was tired and pregnant, so I probably would have passed out in bed before all of the guests had even arrived. Thus the beginning of our very own decrease in social life.
Rowdy was born on June 15, 2011. Our little bud was beautiful and amazing, but he also cried a lot. A lot. To make a long story short, we found out when he was about 6 weeks old that he had been crying so much because he had reflux issues. Luckily, after he got on medication, life got much better when he was about 8 weeks old or so. But those first 2 months of his life were difficult and exhausting, and even though I may have wanted to go out for drinks with friends, I didn’t have the energy. And then later on, once things got smoother and I had more energy, the social life didn’t necessarily bounce back (just like my bod). Like before baby, we had many friends with children, but now we also had one. That fact alone decreases your odds of hanging out with adults. Plus, we lived an hour’s drive away from about 80% of our friends. When the day came that we were finally moving closer to that 80%, we were full of hope that our social life would improve and increase. We would live close to dear friends that we had known for years and years. Surely there was some social drinking in our future. Well, we were wrong. Mostly. While there may have been a slight increase in visits with certain folks, we mostly still see friends in a social environment just as much as we did when we lived an hour away. Why? The one word answer is ‘children’. But here’s the long answer. It’s not always convenient or even possible to get a babysitter. Many times brand new parents don’t even want to be away from their child much. Children need their parents with them as much as possible. There’s meal time, bath time, story time, bed time, so evenings, especially week day evenings, are full of child-related stuff. All of that pretty much relates to parents of very young children (maybe 5 years old and younger), but then as I understand it, there is a whole new deal when the kiddos get older and in school. At that point, the kids may be easier to actually care for (they can potty on their own and change the TV channel on their own and maybe even make a snack on their own), but they are also developing their own little lives. There are school events and activities as well as non-school stuff like sports and clubs. So for any of you non-parents reading this, you get the point. There’s a lot of shit going on in Parent World. But even so, I still believe that parents should have a social life. It’s important.
I asked some parents to answer a few questions for me about this topic. I wanted to learn about their social lives to gain a more broad perspective for this blog post. It was really interesting. First of all, the questions were answered by a total of 11 parents in their late 20s and 30s. When I straight-up asked how important having a social life is for them, only 2 out of 11 said that it was not important. Another 2 said it was extremely important. While the remaining 7 were somewhere in the middle. By “middle” I mean that they basically said that while having a social life is important to them, their family comes first and they don’t push real hard to socialize. My husband and I definitely fall into that category. We love to socialize and think it’s important, but we don’t push it. And, you know what? We probably should push a little harder. I’ve learned that a parent’s social life is like a marriage. It requires effort, priority, care and even compromise. So say you’ve made the decision to work harder on your social life. The next thing you’ve got to do is figure out where to hang out and whether it’s a kid-friendly gathering or not. That can be tricky. A few of the parents that I questioned said they prefer to hang out with friends without their children present. I understand that completely. It’s nice to have a little break and be able to say “shit” whenever you want to. But most of the parents said that they prefer to hang out with their friends at someone’s home with their children present. I also understand that completely. No babysitters required. No feeling guilty for leaving your kiddo while you go have fun. Sounds like a great compromise. But my final verdict on all that is that there should probably be a mix of the two. And because most of these parents said they socialize with friends about once per month (2 of them said once or more per week, which is very impressive!), you probably won’t end up with an adults-only evening every single month. But who cares? If it has to be every other month, I’m all for it. That’s a better rate than what we have going on right now. I should go grab my calendar and start messaging folks, stat.
Overall, I’d say that having a social life as a parent boils down to one main thing. Do what you can, when you can. But you have to actually do it. Gonna be busy for the next 3 weeks and won’t see a single friend once for that entire 21 days? Fine. But if you want to see your buddies, you really, really need to put forth the effort to see them on week 4. Low on funds? That’s okay. Find a friend that is willing to hang out with the kiddos present at a home while you have a lunch consisting of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I don’t know about you, but I enjoy even just a 10 minute chat with a friend in the driveway, okay? I’ll take what I can get. And finally, we really must take advantage of technology and not get all Why didn’t you actually call me? on each other. Come on, now. We all know that for most of us, it’s much more convenient and much quicker to send a text message or even a Facebook message. Let’s give each other a break and just speak via computer, okay? It’s not rude. It’s not wrong (sure, there are a few exceptions, but mostly, it’s not). Plus, Facebook is an excellent way to keep up with what’s going on with friends. Like we really have time to go to each other’s houses every week and look through photo albums. So, go ahead. Post those pictures. I’ll “like” your photo if you “like” mine. And hopefully, I’ll actually see you in the flesh once per month, whether it be at Chuck E. Cheese’s or Perry’s Steakhouse. Take your pick.