We technically live near each other. Why is it so hard to get together?
Both my spouse and I yearn to talk to adults unrelated to our work lives, but the best of intentions don’t seem to pan out often. Our daughters see friends even in the summer at tee-ball, vacation Bible school, swim lessons, and playgrounds. But when do my husband and I get to catch up with friends our own age, other than on social media? We need play dates, maybe more than our kids do!
We used to try to have friends over to dinner about once a month, with varying degrees of success. Everyone needs to eat, right? But between the time my husband gets home from work and the kids go to sleep, we have about an hour, give or take a bit on weeknights. Because of our house’s floor plan, we have to kick them out for the kids to go to sleep. Plus, if the friends have kids too, mealtimes can be fraught with challenges. With our 3-year-old, sometimes even staying at the table is a challenge. Then, there’s the theoretical obligation to clean. Even with making a commitment to “scruffy hospitality” though, it may take some effort to bring the house up to the standards of “it is OK that people live here.”
Since my spouse and I both bring work home with us and there are always dishes, laundry and yard work to be done, “down time” at home is never that. We often have to leave the premises to play.
So I am making a goal, writing it down and sharing it publicly with the hope that I’ll stick to it: We will have a family play date at a park or festival, at least once a month from May to September.
I coach myself, “Don’t argue, this is the easiest possible solution to our adult friendship isolation.” My motivational strategy includes the following:
- Finding a babysitter is irrelevant to making these plans.
- Festivals have specific days and times, so unlike a nebulous commitment to “get together sometime,” we have an actual time to put on the calendar. Some festivals we go to every year are part of how I curate our family memories. They will probably be even better with friends.
- Each family brings their own food to a picnic in the park, obviously. If one or the other family cannot show up for some reason, we are still somewhere fun (and I haven’t expended the effort of making a big dinner, ordering too much food, or even of finding a restaurant that meets all of our dietary requirements).
- It is an excuse to explore different parts of our city. I am highly motivated by ice cream, so if certain friends live near a park not that far from an ice cream shop, I am making it happen. Friends we hardly see because they live in a different part of the metro area will be part of a destination play date.
- There’s no excuse of a home or yard in utter disarray, for any of us to avoid making such a play date. Likewise, there’s no coordinating food preferences, and no dishes to wash afterward.
The payoff for a little planning is significant: conversation with adults reminds us that we are not just our jobs, even if that job is exclusively being a parent. That’s a payoff worth the effort!