A couple of weeks ago I was visiting with some friends about how busy life seems. We all agreed that when we were single and first married, we thought we were busy (and, to be fair, we did have many important things that occupied our time). However, now that we’re in the trenches of parenthood, we can’t believe that we felt so busy back then! Our schedules are much fuller now.
One consequence of feeling like we have so much to do is that our friendships often fall to the wayside. Sometimes we rarely see or speak with our friends. At other times we see them (sometimes regularly), but we don’t really connect because our time is short or we feel too tired to delve deep. My husband and I were reflecting on this recently because we don’t feel deeply connected to many of our friends right now.
What can we do about this? How can we find time in our busy days for friendships? I don’t have all the answers, but here are a few ideas that I’ve been mulling.
How to make time for friends
- Complete practical tasks together. We have to complete routine tasks (folding laundry, shopping, weeding the garden, making freezer meals, etc.) every day. There’s no reason we can’t catch up with friends while we do these things. We can check with friends and see if they can join us. If they can, it will give us time to socialize and get some things crossed off of our to-do lists.
- Do nothing while hanging out. Though we can complete practical tasks with our friends or attend fun events with them, we can also do nothing together. Often times this latter option is easier to fit into our schedules because we don’t have to do anything to prepare if we’re just going to hang out and chat. We can plan in advance to do nothing while hanging out or we can arrange these types of gatherings at the spur of the moment.
- Schedule it in advance and write it on the calendar. Sometimes it doesn’t work to do things at the spur of the moment. When this is the case, it’s useful to select a specific time to hang out and write this on the calendar. Getting it on the calendar is critical so we don’t forget about it and don’t schedule anything else at that time. Moreover, we’re more likely to treat it as a priority—like we would a medical or dental appointment—when it is documented on the calendar.
- Utilize mealtimes. We all have to eat, so why not take advantage of mealtimes to have interactions with friends? We can easily invite another individual or family over for dinner. Sometimes this doesn’t seem easy because we worry about what to cook or about our homes being messy. However, if we can get to a point where we are comfortable with our imperfect homes and if we prepare low-key meals (such as this Mexican Rice Bake or Bourbon Chicken), then mealtimes become great opportunities to connect with friends.
- Avoid substituting social media for the real thing. Though it is called “social” media, we rarely have deep, meaningful interactions via Facebook or similar platforms. However, despite being busy, most of us somehow find time to spend on social media each and every day. What if we spent less time on social media and used the time we freed up to have face-to-face interactions with friends? I don’t know about you, but I think I’d feel a bit more connected than I do when staring at a computer screen.
- Balance one-on-one time with group time. When our time is limited, we can hang out with friends in groups so we can see several friends at once. This approach is helpful; however, the dynamics are always different in groups than with individuals. Sometimes we are better able to open up and share when we’re one-on-one. As we take advantage of ways to hang out with groups of friends, it’s important that we also find time to hang out with the individual friends to whom we are closest.
I hope that by implementing these ideas my husband and I will soon find ourselves experiencing deeper relationships with our friends!
Do you struggle to find time to connect with your friends? Have you found any useful strategies for connecting despite your busy schedule? Please share these ideas with us below!
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