A few weeks ago Grown-Up Party’s editor-at-large, Lizzy, said “we want to know how to hang out with you!”
See Lizzy does not currently have a baby, and is one of those amazing people that is happy to switch up how we hang out, to make sure we do hang out.
I can’t tell you how much I appreciated what she said. As new parents we don’t want to feel as if we’ve lost all our pals, and it’s nice to hear that our friends also don’t want to lose us.
So as much as I’d like to report that nothing has changed and we hang out exactly the way we did pre-kiddo, that is just not the case, and there are actually a few things I told Lizzy that she said I must share with the greater world in a blog post so “non-parents know how to hang out with parents”:
1. Hang out ANYTIME except at night. – I never thought we would be those people who couldn’t go out because of our baby’s bedtime, and for the first 4 months, we weren’t! We brought our newborn to every bar, restaurant and party, but then she changed and actually started going to bed at 7:30, and now we are prisoners to our home as of 7 pm. And this seems to throw a major wrench in most conventional plans because people always want to go out for dinner or drinks, and we feel super lame because we have to say no. But honestly we can hang out anytime except night time! From 7 am to 7 pm we are totally not lame! We can do coffee dates, morning walks, boozy brunches, afternoon park hangs, and happy hours! Understandably these types of hang outs can only happen on the weekend since most people are at work between 7 am and 7 pm, but the week days are pretty exhausting (so the week nights are for netflix and sleep anyways.) Basically, we are now the MASTERS OF BRUNCHES in a park!
2. Just because something worked one week, doesn’t mean it will work the next. – As mentioned above, for 4 months our baby would pass out at that loud party! And right now she won’t, but maybe down the road we will be able to get a babysitter. And then perhaps a month after that she will have weird night tremors and I’ll be hesitant to go out at night again for a little bit. Basically, every stage is different, and the thing is that we are just learning what and when the stages are (most often recognizing them after they are over). So if we get invited somewhere, just know that if we are in a stage where we can make it happen we totally will, but if we can’t (even if we could a few weeks ago!), it’s not because we don’t want to, but we gotta respect our tiny ruler’s needs.
3. Take out! – Now this is probably a stage, but from what I’ve heard it’s a pretty long one: going out to restaurants with a baby isn’t a ton of fun (once their past that sleep-all-the-time newborn stage). The time is mainly spent moving things out of reach of your child’s grabby hands and NOT spent on really hanging out, so although it may be less fancy, embrace take-out! Nothing sounds more wonderful to me then when some friends say “why don’t we come over and we’ll bring take out?”, or my most common phrase these days, ” why don’t we do pizza in the park?”.
4. “Spontaneous-flexible-either party can cancel with no reason or guilt-plans” are awesome. – Planning ahead is great, but sometimes the spontaneous hang out (with take out – see #3) is better! Sometimes for parents (or anyone actually), an overly scheduled social calendar is more stressful than exciting, and it’s best to just focus on each day as it comes. So if you can be open to a text like “hey want to hang tonight between 5 and 7?”, that could lead to a seriously good time. BUT, also be ok with the fact that spontaneous plans may be cancelled if the day goes south. And you can cancel too if something comes up! It’s the no pressure/anything can happen kind of plan.
5. Be on time. – This one is kind of a crap shoot, and has no scientific backing, but when hanging out with people who have kids try to be on time (even if they never are). Just because as the universe would have it, if you show up 45 minutes late, the baby most likely was a dream and cute and hilarious for that 45 minutes, but then when you arrive is now cranky and overtired.
But this is not a one way street. Us parents also need to make efforts when hanging out with friends who don’t have kids since just because we decided to turn our lives upside down to have kids doesn’t mean they should have to. So parents, keep in mind the following:
1. It’s ok if your child gets a few hours less sleep once in awhile. – yes your child may prefer to sleep at home and taking them out to that party may mean they go to bed at 10 pm instead of 7 pm, but once in awhile getting a few hours less sleep so you attend an important wedding/book club/dinner/pub crawl/etc is worth it.
2. Trade off. – In a perfect world your child goes to bed at 7 pm every night and your live-in babysitter can watch the monitor while you go out as a couple all the time, but realistically, that probably will not happen as often as you’d like (for many reasons, including what you can afford!). So be ok switching off with nights out. Of course time out on the town together is important, but time out separately is also something to be valued.
So those are my tips for parents and friends alike! Yes it may involve switching cocktails for mimosas, or having dinner between and 5 and 7 pm, or making “morning coffees” the new “after after party”, but a mid-afternoon hang is better than no hang!