Our lifestyle changed in a lot of ways when my husband and I became parents, but one aspect that changed in particular was our social life. People stopped by to see the baby, but we could no longer easily spend late nights out, travel to visit out-of-town friends, or say yes to last-minute plans. As time has gone on, though, we've figured out some ways to reclaim our social life, even though we have an infant.
Don't be afraid to let others watch the baby
My daughter was a mere three weeks old the first time we left her with my parents-in-law for an evening. As we pulled out of the driveway, I couldn't stop the tears from flowing, but we ended up having a great time at a holiday party, and the baby was perfect. It's important to get out as adults every once in a while, and we've found there are people lining up at the door to take our kid off our hands for a few hours.
Make friends with other young families
Since the baby came along, it can be somewhat difficult to maintain friendships with single people or couples without kids. We're not as flexible when it comes to timing or location of plans, and the baby can be a bit of a distraction when trying to talk. Making friends with other young families makes socialization easier. Even if we don't get in a lot of quality conversation due to distractions, at least we understand the chaos, and when the kids are older, they'll be able to run off together and play while we have some adult conversation.
Invite friends over after baby's bedtime
One of the ways we've been able to enjoy time with other couples is by inviting them over after the baby's gone to bed around 7:30 or 8pm. This allows us to keep an eye on the monitor, skip paying for a babysitter, and still be able to play cards, watch a movie, or have some drinks. If we want to have people over for dinner, we'll often make it through the meal with the baby awake and then one of us will excuse ourselves to handle the bedtime routine while the other continues to entertain our company.
Set morning or afternoon plans
To avoid the bedtime issue, we've begun making plans earlier in the day. I'll go shopping or out for walks and take the baby along in the stroller. We might do a breakfast, lunch, or even an early bird dinner at a restaurant if our company doesn't mind having a baby along for the ride. We've also grown more comfortable with taking her to social functions that happen in the middle of the day, although we still skip late evening or nighttime functions unless we find a babysitter. I'm a bit of a stickler when it comes to bedtime.
Realize kids are portable
For the most part, I've realized our kid is a lot more portable than my fear led me to believe she was when she was born. As she's gotten older, I've become a lot more confident in my ability to tote her around with me. Yes, we might have the occasional meltdown or mini-crisis, but taking her out of the house is a lot better for her development than keeping her cooped up all day. Besides, she is generally just as excited as me to see new people, go new places, and do new things!
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