It happens all the time: you get invited to “hang out” with a few of the moms from your neighborhood. Or maybe it’s an invite from some ladies at church or even a random person you met in the grocery store who happens to have children the same age as yours. How often, though, do you hear yourself saying any one or more of these reasons for not going on a “grown-up play date” with another mom?
- It’s too hard to pack everything up.
- What if the baby cries?
- What if my toddler has a tantrum?
- If I skip this nap, the night will be terrible.
- My house it too messy.
- I don’t have anything to wear.
- What if my child spits up on their furniture?
- It is WAYYYYY too hard to travel with more than one child.
- What if they don’t like the way I parent?
- What if I don’t like the way they parent?
- I don’t even know when my child will be napping.
- I have an errand to run.
- My child is a picky eater. He/she won’t like their snacks.
- I have triplets. They won’t understand. It’s just too much.
Life is meant to be lived, and we as parents have to remember our actions are what our children pick up on most – not our words. Our children grow up doing what we’ve done, so modeling healthy social and coping skills is right up there with breathing and bathing.
Ask me how I know. Time and time again I used a number of these excuses to keep myself housebound while I was taking care of my own kids as well as tending to other people’s children. As a sleep coach and a grown up needing some quiet time of her own, naptime was my favorite excuse for staying put. But after about a year of very little adult interaction, I was going crazy. I had to come up with creative ways to say YES to grown up time or else everyone in the house was going to suffer along with me. That also meant I had to grow my own understanding of naps and how being too focused on them can actually make sleep habits worse instead of better.
I went through all the normal fears and rationales myself: Shouldn’t I be working to fill the kids’ sleep tanks? If you skip naps won’t they wake up early or frequently at night? Won’t my child be over stimulated and over tired? What I discovered, however, is that the more stress I put on sleep the more stressed we all became and the less sleep happened for all of us.
And so I let go a little. I became more flexible with our routines, and I started saying YES to filling my own tank first so then I became much more available and patient with myself and everyone else around me.
Since going somewhere with a crew of kids in tow was often challenging, I began inviting people over to my house to play. My kids could still nap on schedule, and I was able to enjoy some adult company in the meantime. This was a saving grace for me. I quickly began letting go of feeling as if I had to be the perfect mom in the perfect house, and I was able to appreciate the relationships I was forming. I loved how the other moms and I were able to just live, play, talk and be real with each other. And over time, it motivated me to get creative with getting out and going to other people’s homes for play dates. Even if just means walking to a friend’s house in the neighborhood, we made it work and we enjoyed our days all that much more.
So go for it! Go make grown up friends and start having grown up play dates. It’s as easy now as it was in kindergarten, and it all starts with a quick, “Hi! I’m Irene. What’s your name?” And of course there’s always the never-fail “How old is your little one?” introduction. Be intentional and be genuine because behind every infant, toddler or child of any age is a mom as desperate as you for adult interaction.
May you be the perfectly imperfect mom you were designed to be.
Say YES to meeting up with another mom today!
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