"When can we get together?" I texted my three closest friends. We hadn't seen each other in a year because of the pandemic. All of us work full-time and three of us have kids. When we finally picked a date, it was more than six weeks out.
Parents of young kids today are less likely to have social club memberships than generations past, and they spend less time socializing one-on-one with close friends.
But having an active social life has been linked to an array of health benefits, both physical and mental.
Insider spoke with six parents about how — and why — they prioritize their relationships and friendships.
ForLarisa Garski, a family therapist and co-author of the upcoming book Starship Therapise, maintaining a social life is part of caring for her health.
"It's only in our comparatively recent modern times that we treat parenting as a solo or at best two-person activity," Garski said. "In reality, adults need breaks from caregiving so they can rest and refuel and then return to their children with a restored distress tolerance tank."
Garski recommends that parents find other families to swap childcare with, or create relationships with babysitters they can trust. At the very least, in two-parent households partners should give each other time along to socialize — even if that means hopping on the phone with friends for a few minutes.
Mary Vaughn, a sleep consultant who has three sons under the age of six, said ensuring her kids have a stable bedtime is an integral part of maintaining a social life.
Sometimes, Vaughn and her husband have friends over after the boys have gone to bed or hire a sitter, knowing that the boys will fall asleep easily as long as their routine is followed.
"I am more than just a mom, and a girls' night away from the house or a night out with my husband is food for my soul," she said.
Pre-kids, I loved sneaking off for weekends away with my girlfriends. Now that we have kids, large blocks of time are hard to find. That's whyCharles McMillan, a businessman, has adjusted his expectations.
McMillan calls his friends to talk, which gives him more flexibility, and he also makes time to chat with other parents when he's at the park with the kids.
Kristin White, a wellness coach and mom of two, has adjusted her idea of what a night out is. Now, she and her husband have a "date night" by sharing a drink at home before watching Netflix, or by running errands to Costco together.
Many parents find themselves socializing with other parents and with work colleagues. If that's the case for you, make the most out of work connections, like Matthew Kelley, co- founder ofCase Integrative Health and dad of one, has.
"In hindsight, another benefit was how close the pandemic made our team at work," Kelley said. "Through that struggle, our team became part of our social circle."
Michelle Meredith, mom of two and the founder of Bright Color Mom, also finds work to be a social outlet.
"My workplace hosted annual galas, theme park trips, and various functions that allowed us to hang out with work friends, and even let our kids get to know each other," she said.
One of the ways that parenting kills social lives is by taking away the ability to be impulsive.
Gabriel Dungan, founder and CEO ofViscoSoft, commits to spending one day a month as a social day.
"When it's scheduled in advance, it's easier to stick to your plans instead of perpetually putting them off," Dungan said.
My friends and I have taken this tip to heart. Once we finally got together, we picked a date, months in advance, when we were all free again. I'm already looking forward to it.