30 Going On 13

Welcome to the Tuesday guest blog. Every Tuesday "On Balance" features the views of a guest writer. It could be your neighbor, your boss, your most loved or hated poster from the blog, or you! Send me your entry (300 words or fewer) for consideration. Obviously, the topic should be something related to balancing your life.

By Sara Fisher

Being a new mom is a little like being in middle school. You have bad hair days all the time, you hate your body and are nervous that you won't "fit in."

This is exacerbated for me because I work part time, approximately 25-30 hours per week spread over three days. I can't just meander the streets with my baby and meet new mom friends randomly. If I want to make the most of my "mom" role, I need to structure my days off to stay in the loop with my non-working new mom friends (NMFs) so I can spend my days off doing fun stay-at-home mom activities! I have to be proactive about my new mom life. I need a plan.

This reminds me of what I was like as a young teen: insecure and worried I wasn't going to get asked to the 8th grade dance. I try to shake off the middle school ghosts and I call two of my NMFs. I ask if they want to meet my son and me in the park. We all agree 4ish works.

I whisk my son out of his crib as soon as he makes a peep, feed him and we're out the door at 3:50. Things are great. The sun is out, my kid's fed, I have two NMFs to meet. Couldn't ask for more.

I put my son in the swing. It's 4:15. Then 4:25. I meet another mom in the park. More swinging. 4:30. My son has clearly had enough swing time. Where are my NMFs!??

Rule #1: Don't stalk your NMFs. You don't want to scare them.

Rule #2: Kids are unpredictable; NMFs even more so.

4:40. I put my son back in his stroller. I'm ready to leave. Just then, NMF #1 shows up. I pretend that I'm not ready to leave. I lie so that I can hang out with my NMF. Five minutes later, NMF #2 shows up. Her daughter didn't want to nap, so they were late. Of course it wasn't personal!!

At 5:00, I have to leave; the hour my son has spent in the swing is getting to him. I've crossed the line of being a good, "proactive" mom. Then I realize being a new mom is nothing like being in middle school. Because now it doesn't matter how bad my hair looks or how ugly I feel in my body. Now I have something bigger and so much better to be concerned about. Whenever I'm with my son, wherever we are, I'm already at the dance.

Sara Fisher is a senior manager for a public relations firm and lives with her husband and son in Chicago. In an exception to the On Balance policy of running only original material, this entry is adapted from a post on Sarah's blog.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  October 31, 2006; 9:30 AM ET  | Category:  Guest Blogs
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Great Story. Is there anything...

Posted by: ...to discuss? | October 31, 2006 9:44 AM

Actually, I think there is. I'd love to hear some other's hints on how to make friends with other moms given busy schedules, crazy lives, etc. I know I for one never thought it would be so difficult.

Also, I'm wondering what other's experiences are with the whole 'Bowling Alone' phenomenon. Have you all seen those statistics about how the average American has only ONE friend and no one to confide in? Do you think they have any validity? Are we actually more lonely as a culture than ever before? How's that -- just to get the ball rolling?

Posted by: Armchair Mom | October 31, 2006 9:54 AM

Instead of pursuing forced friendships, why don't you nurture the tried and true friendships you already have?

Posted by: DZ | October 31, 2006 10:02 AM

"Have you all seen those statistics about how the average American has only ONE friend and no one to confide in?"

I haven't (could you provide a link?), but this somewhat scares me. I suppose it's a good thing I'm not average.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 31, 2006 10:07 AM

Our culture is more migratory -- our oldest and dearest friends are more often a phone call or an email away rather than a mile or two away. That can be isolating.

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | October 31, 2006 10:07 AM

I was at a point once in my life where I felt very isolated and alone, my solution was to learn how to enjoy being alone. It did happen to coincide with the time my first child was very young.

Posted by: Tracy | October 31, 2006 10:12 AM

I really identify with Sara. I have made about 200 new friends since becoming a mother, and it's been one of the best parts of parenthood. My experience is that moms absolutely NEED other mom friends with kids around the same age.

Sometimes your oldest and dearest friends and family members just can't identify with your parenting issues.

Motherhood creates a great opportunity to make new friends and reconnect with old ones. Go for it, Sara!

Posted by: Leslie | October 31, 2006 10:16 AM

The friends I had distanced themselves from me since I have become a mom. It's as if they have forgotten that I am still capable of going out to a movie, a dinner, whatever. This is thier choice not mine. I haven't been lucky at finding a playgroup for my 3 1/2 yr old son that isn't during the week when I am at work. The few moms I do know are busy themselves and trying to get a few of us together is like pulling teeth.

Am I the only one feeling left out and isolated?

Posted by: Anonymous | October 31, 2006 10:18 AM

Social Isolation Growing in U.S., Study Says
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/06/22/AR2006062201763_pf.html

Posted by: Neighbor | October 31, 2006 10:19 AM

I'd meant to include an excerpt that talks about what Armchair Mom mentioned:
"Whereas nearly three-quarters of people in 1985 reported they had a friend in whom they could confide, only half in 2004 said they could count on such support. The number of people who said they counted a neighbor as a confidant dropped by more than half, from about 19 percent to about 8 percent."

Posted by: Neighbor | October 31, 2006 10:21 AM

Leslie,
C'mon! 200 new FRIENDS?

Posted by: DZ | October 31, 2006 10:22 AM

Why is it necessary to have so many *similar* people around you? I've found my oldest and dearest friends keep my life perspective in balance... not trying to slap that back at you, Leslie.

I think those cliques can be limiting.

Posted by: Tracy | October 31, 2006 10:25 AM

10:18am - I'm with you. My non-parent friends don't ask me to hang out much anymore either. In the rare times they do, it's usually an email at 4pm Friday afternoon to see if I am available to go out that night!
I find that as a working mom it is very difficult to meet other moms - it seems like all of the events and playdates are during the week. All of the other moms I have met in my neighborhood are stay at home and while we are friendly, there's just not a lot of time to interact. On the weekends their husbands or in-laws spend a lot of time with the kids and they like to be free. I can hardly blame them.

Posted by: Downtown | October 31, 2006 10:27 AM

Remember, I'm a man here, so I have a different perspective. I love it that we can go to the park anytime and be able to strike up conversation with other kids and other parents -- because we have something in common. I know this isn't a solid friendship, but it's nice to always be able to find someone to strike up a conversation with. In this way, parenting doesn't seem isolating to me.

Posted by: Arlington Dad | October 31, 2006 10:30 AM

There was a time when grandmothers and grandfathers were vital to children, I remember that time, it was the greatest time of my life, what happened, it sounds like its all me,me,me,me,me for women today.

Posted by: mcewen | October 31, 2006 10:41 AM

Not sure why you are so upset about your friends not being very friendly or having no friends. Just a couple of weeks ago there was another blog about how people without kids should understand that their friends with kids are too busy doing important stuff like raising their children to be bothered with keeping the friendship! Well what do you expect - you feel justified in not nurturing a friendship because you are too busy and then moan about having no friends! You can't have it both ways - abandon a friend when its convenient for you and then want them make back again at your convenience - sorry it does not work that way!!

Posted by: Ana in Silver Spring | October 31, 2006 10:45 AM

It's kind of a strange phenomenon: I tend to be more isolated from long discussions and deeper connected friendships, but I suddenly know and talk to a lot more people (from neighbors to clerks) because my son will either strike up conversation or something he does will spur conversation (at the grocery store, on the playground, in our neighborhood, etc.). Strangers will often engage you in conversation if you have either a child or a pet (especially a dog) with you--I've met many neighbors I probably never would have because of my son. If I look back at my parents--they have a few close personal friends, but they didn't see each other or talk more than a few times a year; family was always the focus. Of course, we were (and still are) lucky enough to have a lot of family in the area, so most of the extended social connections are familial. Just because someone else has a child does not necessarily mean you'll hit it off--it give you an immediate experience in common which is great for initial conversations, but you still need to connect with that other person in other ways. I've actually found very few dads I connect with, though I usually get along well with the moms and kids. I think it's certainly possible to maintain and establish friendships, but sometimes this topic veers off into the have your cake and eat it too category (there are only so many hours in the day). Luckily, my best friend is my wife. I've been trying to schedule a get together with my best guy friend--it's ridiculous how hard it is to find a time and date that works for both of us (he's a dad of a 2yr. old).

Posted by: marc | October 31, 2006 10:47 AM

mcewen, do you ever have a day where you're NOT desperate for attention?

Posted by: Anonymous | October 31, 2006 10:50 AM

I'm really enjoying the collegial tone of this morning's comments, and I'm not trying to nitpick here. But I have a question for those parents who've said that they've lost touch with their childless friends: have you initiated an invitation or otherwise made it clear that you're interested in a movie or dinner or whatever?

I don't have children and I've been on the other side of the divide. When some of my friends became parents, they mostly wanted to be with other parents. Or, in some cases they did want to get together with me but, frankly, they wanted the kids to be the focal point of the visit. I understand that completely, but if I invite a friend for some activity (a movie, a trip to a museum), it's because I'm interested in spending time with that person, engaging in that activity. Inviting me to tag along as their family visits a kid-oriented place (a theme park, for instance) is not really the same thing.

Posted by: TC | October 31, 2006 10:51 AM

I have many, many people I would call "friends" whom I've met through parenthood. But very few, if any, of them are like the close-knit friendships I had in high school and college. I'm OK with that though. I've noticed that my parents have far more friends now in their 70's-80's than they did when I was growing up; I think it's just a cyclical thing.

However, I do feel there is a reason for this phenomenon (moms of young children generally not having many close friends), and Sara's blog gave an example of this when she talked about her NMF's being so late for their playdate. Mothers seem to be notoriously bad about using their children as excuses to be downright rude to their friends. It's like they say "oh, she will understand that my daughter didn't want to nap because she's a mom too" so they just blow off a date or show up really late.

I've had friends who have shown up an hour late for a 2 hour playdate because their child needed to have a time-out right before it was time to go, because they pooped their diaper as they were leaving the house, because they didn't wake up from their nap at the normal time....I mean come ON. If you were really ready to go, the diaper or the time out should have taken five minutes TOPS. And if your child has been napping for two hours, just wake them up and get going....they will be FINE.

(Those are just examples, and they're not given so that people can pick them apart and say "sometimes it takes 20 minutes to change a poopy diaper" or "my daughter needs a 3 hour nap".)

I understand that emergencies happen and that life with young children is unpredictable. But I also don't think we should just use that as an excuse to be rude to other adults.

Posted by: momof4 | October 31, 2006 10:57 AM

I think it's much different for single parents also. Most of my "old" friends (referring to the friendship, not their age) are still childless, and I still see them as often as I did before. I would like to have more mom friends, but find it difficult for the typical reasons of scheduling and people being busy; and it also seems that married moms want to spend their free time with their husbands - and of course, I think that is good and right, but it means most of my "new" friends are single moms, and with no partners, we are very rarely sans-kids.

Posted by: TakomaMom | October 31, 2006 10:59 AM

When I was living in Ashburn and working in Arlington, my husband and I had no close friends with kids. We would take our son to play in the parks nearby and would occasionally meet interesting people, but we never managed to form lasting connections. We had many childless friends who happily made allowances for the newest member of our circle, but it isn't the same.
Since we've moved we have reconnected with friends who have children around our son's age. It has been a relief. Our children can run around, yell, scream, have tantrums, play, share, and sing together and we don't have to apologize -- we just get that mutual parental sympathy.
We don't have to worry that our friends' houses have expensive breakables, or aren't childproof, and when we schedule a "play-date" for the adults, everyone understands the importance of scheduling around naptime or not staying out too late.
It also allows us to spend quality time with people we like and not feel like we're abandoning our kids with babysitters just to have some adult time.
I'm not sure if we would have found this stalking the playgrounds in Ashburn -- maybe we would have -- but I found it's hard to make friends with people when the only thing you have in common is kids roughly the same age.

Maybe we just need to be honest and start scheduling play groups and play dates for adults who have similar interests but have children. That way we get to make friends with people who share the same political/ social/ athletic/ religious hobbies.

Posted by: MadisonWiMom | October 31, 2006 10:59 AM

It's been awhile since I read the articles about the "how many friends do you have?" survey, but I recall someone speculating in those articles that maybe we hold people to a higher standard to be called a "friend", so that's why the numbers have fallen so much.

I do have old friends, but many of them did not have kids when I did, and it's just harder. I think it goes both ways -- it's harder when you can't be free in just talking about your kids. Not that I want to talk about them all the time, but single, never married friends really don't want to hear about the kids beyond, "Yes, he's doing fine in school." Sometimes, I want to say 2 or 3 more sentences, but it's clear that they can't relate, so that's it. And I get sick of censoring myself so much. That said, I can think of two exceptions amongst my old friends, and yes, I'm closer to them as a result. And I do ask plenty about their lives!

Sometimes I think my husband and I are still floundering around, meeting new friends. We have a wonderful core of friends from the daycare, and keeping those friendships up has been a pleasure. But we're still working on new friends at our 1st grader's school. Volunteering is easier if you work part time or not at all, but it's not impossible if you're working full time, since the PTA goes out of its way to include working parents (dads included). I just have to remind myself that it took us 2 or 3 years to establish our daycare friendships, and we're now only in year 2 in our 1st grader's school. It takes some time to form lasting friendships, especially when you can't meet for coffee once a week.

Posted by: Arlington Mom | October 31, 2006 11:00 AM

Staying friends with childless friends isn't hard if you want to - I call and invite them over or go out WITHOUT the child. Time off for me, and I get to spend time with my friends. There are folks who care more about their new children (which is great by the way!), but I think it's worth this balancing act to keep friends.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 31, 2006 11:07 AM

I am a working mom, and I also find that I have little time to spend with friends, although I do have a couple of friends that I value greatly. I don't see them as often as I'd like, but we talk occasionally, email each other, and try to get together every month or so. But I don't feel isolated because I have work colleagues that I see every day at work. Some of these people are moms with kids, but others are simply people that I personally click with. Sometimes I think that I would like to spend more time with friends in theory, but when the road meets the rubber, I realize that this is probably the best I can do. Right now, my priority is my family. I work full time. My weekends are devoted to my family. My son has activities outside of school. My husband and I need time together. I also need to see my parents and brothers now and then. Unfortunately, this leaves little time for friends. But I don't feel bad about it. For what it's worth, I feel happy and balanced. Maybe there will be more time for friends when my son is older. Right now, things have to be the way the are.

Posted by: Emily | October 31, 2006 11:08 AM

One of my friend's mothers told us when we first had children that our friends would end up being the parents of our children's friends. This is so true! Most of our friends now are parents we've met though our kids' activities. We moved 6 years ago and I think it was natural to sign up the kids for things first - and therefore we met those other parents and formed friendships. Our second group of friends is largely work related - but these are fewer because both my husband and I are quite a bit younger than most of our co-workers. We're also quite a bit younger than most of our neighbors. However, I count our 2 retired neighbors among my friends too - they are wonderful friends and stand in for grandparents and parents to our family since our extended families (and theirs) all live far away.

I do think it's harder to make friends now for several reasons - but mostly because we're just busy. Two working parents, three kids, a house to maintain, activities, hobbies and family time don't leave much time left over outside of work to find and foster friendships. When the kids are a little older, which will be before we know it, then we'll have more time to foster friendships. Most of my "mom-friends" are in the same boat and a few emails a week and a monthly lunch do it for us. And that's okay - we know we are there for each other when it's needed.

Posted by: Stacey | October 31, 2006 11:11 AM

I guess I can't relate to wanting to make friends with NWFs when you work part time or full time. Generally, if you work full time, you barely have time to breathe. Who has time to nurture true friendships with other people? I work part time and I feel that time is really precious with my DD. I want to give her almost all my time and attention that I can during those days. I do think couples like to find other couples to hang out with. But with our busy lives it is really hard to do that. I guess I don't mind spending a lot of alone time. I think if you were a gregarious person, it would be really hard to be a SAHP.

Posted by: foamgnome | October 31, 2006 11:16 AM

Another thing I've struggled with here is the lack of parents in my own "demographic", so to speak. It is easy to say we don't have to make friends with people who are like us, and that is completely true, but it also seems true that you don't just randomly run into people that aren't like you. I often feel that I don't "fit in" with any of the groups of parents I know in this area.

Posted by: TakomaMom | October 31, 2006 11:19 AM

I've had four very close friends for decades. These women started out as a neighbor, a co-worker, a subject for a newspaper article, and a fellow club member. We just clicked, met for lunch, and continued to see each other. One of them has children (spaced 11 years apart) but we've managed to lunch, shop, travel - with and without the children - for a long period of time.

One of these friends has moved around many times in her life. She is as much an introvert as I am, but she's fond of saying,"You won't meet anyone if you don't make the effort. You have to get out there and introduce yourself and take responsibility for your share of the relationship".

I've also been a member of a message board for four years. We're a group of eleven women from three different countries and several states. I met up with one of them on a recent trip to California and will meet another this winter. It's a pretty tight group of cyber friends.

Posted by: footloose and childfree | October 31, 2006 11:25 AM

I just realized I wanted to say something that wasn't whining :) I was thinking about momof4's comment that parents use kids as an excuse to be late, and realizing that this has been a big source of frustration for me as well. For my friends that are horrible about meeting at a set time, I find that we very rarely meet anywhere - I either invite them over or I go to their house, and that way I don't feel like I'm wasting time just waiting around. If we want to make plans to go somewhere from that point, I am there to help with the getting ready process and keep us on schedule! (Maybe this means I am just too much of a control freak ... ?)

Posted by: TakomaMom | October 31, 2006 11:29 AM

MadisonWiMom,

"It also allows us to spend quality time with people we like and not feel like we're abandoning our kids with babysitters just to have some adult time."

Why do you think hiring a babysitter is a bad thing? When I was a kid, I loved spending time with my sitters. I'm glad my parents had some adult time without me.

Posted by: phoebesnow | October 31, 2006 11:44 AM

I often feel isolated. The "fault", if there's a "fault", is mine because I've largely let friendships go and haven't cultiaveted new ones. This is partly my personality (never been an extrover) and party just a choice I've made on how I want to spend my free time.

I'm away from my kids 40 hours a week (working 32 and commuting 8), so the time I'm not working I want to spend with my family. I remember when my chidren were 1 and 3 and my daughter was in ballet class on my day off. I played with my son in the waiting area, whereas the other moms, who as far as I could tell stayed home full time, chatted with each other while their children who weren't in the class played with a box of toys. I noticed one little boy looking at me somewhat jealously as I tickled my son, and he asked me to tickle him too. (I asked his mom first since she didn't know me and she ended up playing with him instead.) Which is natural. If you're home alone with your children all week, you're going to want to reach out and meet other moms when you get the chance. Whereas I used the time to spend with my son, because I wasn't seeing enough of him during the week. So this isn't a judgment on how the SAHMs acted or how I acted. It's just how it was. For a similar reason, my husband and I have never had a regular "date night." We want to spend our weekends with our kids, not hand them over to another babysitter.

I don't get close to my co-workers, even though I like a lot of them, because typically I'm trying to work as hard as I can during the day so I can leave on time to pick my children up from day care. The other moms in my office are the same way. We talk about how we should have lunch sometime, and talk about our kids some while getting our lunches out of the refrigerator, but generally we're all very rushed. I find that when I do have time to take a long lunch, I want to walk over to the National Gallery of Art and have some quiet time there.

This has been fine for awhile, but lately I've felt like there's a void in my life. I've realized that my husband is really the only person I speak to on a regular basis. He also doesn't socialize, but it doesn't seem to bother him. Occasionally I try to get together with old friends. Wanted to have someone over for dinner a few weeks ago, but had to cancel because my son was very sick. (Actually I didn't cancel, but told her he had a fever in case she didn't want to risk coming over with her daughter and catching it, and she didn't.) A mom's group at our church is starting to have get-togethers on Monday nights, and I've thought about participating (though I think at this point my kids are older than the kids of most of the moms in this group - it's supposed to be for parents of young children, which probably means pre-school). Monday may even be fairly easy since it's my "short day." But I'm hesitant to add anything else to our schedules. I guess I want friends, but it's a question of time and energy.

Posted by: Sam | October 31, 2006 11:44 AM

DZ - please keep in mind Leslie has multiple, older children. She's had years and various child-related activities to help her connect with those 200 new friends. It's not impossible. Between school, play dates, other parents in the neighborhood whom you might never have connected with if it hadn't been for your kids playing with theirs, little league and other sports teams, cub scouts, girl scouts, summer camp, etc. The opportunities for meeting people via your children is vast.

Posted by: 215 | October 31, 2006 11:45 AM

Not to depress anyone, but if you think you are lonely with little ones, just wait until they get older! Around 4th grade or so..maybe earlier, parents aren't so willing to go the extra mile to meet new people. For all my kids, Kindy through 3rd grade was 'meet new people time'...then time passed. I barely know the parents of my teenagers friends. Yes, I do know them and I make efforts to know them..but we aren't friends per se. There are just so many more differences than similarities (e.g., choices made, sports playing, classes taking...etc.). By the time they're in high school, they're friends because they share one class of 45 minutes and they had a good time being lab partners last year. What holds my teenager's friends together doesn't hold all their parents together at all.

and don't get me started on unpredictability. When I had an appointment to meet someone, we kept it. I bet those inconsiderate NWMs would have made it to the park on time if it was important to them (e.g., a doctor's appointment). For some reason, it is acceptable to blame the parent's poor form on their kids actions. shame on them.

Posted by: dotted | October 31, 2006 11:54 AM

"Mothers seem to be notoriously bad about using their children as excuses to be downright rude to their friends. It's like they say "oh, she will understand that my daughter didn't want to nap because she's a mom too" so they just blow off a date or show up really late."

I agree with this. I try to be flexible, but my pet peeve is flakiness. I have tried (admittedly not more than a couple of times) to arrange some playdates with other children my son has met or knows already, and not only did it not happen, but it seemed like I was doing most of the reaching out. I don't press the issue, and if the mom doesn't get back to me, I let it go.

I have a close friend from college whom I talk with several times a year, but our sons haven't played together in a long, long time. Part of the reason is that we live in two different cities, about an hour apart. And while I love her, girlfriend is SO flakey. Plus, she is very, very much into her church. She joined a new one and is all into the majority of the activities there, has met a man there (she is divorced), attends outside social functions with people from the church and has other girlfriends who are very religious and into their churches. I have nothing against this, and I am a church-goer, myself. I don't mind the church involvement, and I'd like to become more involved in my own church. But in her case, it smacks of excluding people who are not similarly involved. The church she attends seems more than a little charismatic, and in a matter of months, she has became very close and involved with the congregation. She has invited me to attend, but I have not taken her up on her offer. They talk in tongues there. No offense, that's just not my thing.

My other older friends and acquaintances I either keep up with here and there or have lost contact. Being a busy single mom with two kids leaves little to no time for making new friends.

At a soccer class that ended recently, a SAHM mom asked me if I worked during the day (I guess my showing up in work clothes while the rest of them are in jeans and shorts wasn't enough of a clue), because "you look kind of tired, today." Gee, thanks! I could tell she didn't mean any harm, and I liked her sense of humor, but that one comment kind of turned me off.


Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | October 31, 2006 12:02 PM

I try never to be late. But I do find that some childfree people just do not understand some of our social limitations. I have to constantly remind them that young children nap in the afternoon and 12 noon is not a good time to start an activity. It should be a time to wrap up an activity. Besides that I try to go out of my way to make friendships last. It is just easier to socialize with people who have young kids. I just patiently keep waiting for some of our childless friends to have some kids. Then things will level out.

Posted by: foamgnome | October 31, 2006 12:06 PM

TO ANA in SS:

Friendship goes both ways, Don't ASSume because I have a child that I am no longer available with or without my child to do things. Like I wrote THEY made the choice not me. I make calls and send emails trying to make plans with both parents and non-parents alike. They chose not too. It goes both ways and what you wrote does not apply to me. :p

My husband and I have spoken about this and he doesn't understand it either.
His approach? Screw'em. If they can't be friends with me now then they never were really my friends to begin with. Friends of convenience, fairweather friends, whatever you want to call them.

I do keep in contact with my old high school friends from many, many moons ago. They live a good 3 hours away but I find they have been there regardless of the distance or my MOM title. :)


Posted by: 2xmami | October 31, 2006 12:08 PM

foamgnome...
love the name by the way. Always brings a chuckle.

Actually not all kids nap in the afternoon. Mine napped mid morning because it was easier for me. I decided on their nap times..as head mom..I get to decide. It is part of the mom job imho.

Further, as time passes, their nap times change until by 4/5 they aren't napping at all. In fact, one of the signs of kindy readiness is no naps...and that is one sign most kids reach easily. It may require more sleep at a different time...that's all.

I guess it wouldn't hurt people to help out the childless friends a bit and meet them when it is easy for the childless friends sometimes...not just only when it is good for 'johnny and jilly.'

Posted by: dotted | October 31, 2006 12:12 PM

My husband and I are thinking of having kids soon and so I checked out this blog to find out more about what it's like to be a parent these days. Most of our friends don't have children and we have a very active social life...We meet up with friends for dinner or drinks several times a week, go to parties, roadtrips etc. We also like to hang out with our coworkers and we see our families several times a month. Overall our lives are very full.

I was curious to see how having a child would impact our current lifestyle. Unfortunately posts like Sam and Emily's are quite discouraging! It just seems strange to me that once you have a child you should essentially limit your social interation to just your husband and your children. After becoming a mother does the rest of the world disappear? Are the 20 or 30 something years you spent forming relationships with other people before your child was born now worth nothing? It seems like if you do want to socialize with others you are forced into this contrived situation of befriending people just because they reproduced like you did. It just seems strange to me...and saddening!

Posted by: stephanie | October 31, 2006 12:15 PM

It doesn't sound like she's looking for friends in the true meaning of the word. It sounds like she looking for a support group for a temporary condition and when that's over, she'll be moving on.

Posted by: June | October 31, 2006 12:16 PM

To dotted: We do make some allowances for our child free friends. We hold monthly dinners and rotate the house between 3 couples. We are allowed to bring our daughter. Then twice a year, we get a baby sitter and go all out. We go to dinner and a theater performance and the other time we go to an adults only party. They are usually accomodating when we tell them we can't go at that time because DD naps. But it gets old when I have to remind them each month that our daughter naps most of the afternoon. I actually think they will become less patient when our second daughter arrives. Because then we will have two kids with different needs. I just keep praying that they will have some kids soon. They are trying but it just doesn't seem to work for them.

Posted by: foamgnome | October 31, 2006 12:17 PM

To Stephanie, I don't think the rest of your world ends but your priorities do change a lot. Because whether you like it or not, your child's needs will superseded any of your social plans for the first few years. It does get better and you will develop some friendships with other parents. That will make it easier. But if parenting is really what you want, it will not be a huge sacrifice to give up the social lime light. Believe me, you will want to spend a lot of time with your kid. It is really the best time of your life when your kids are small and they are just so awesome. If that doesn't sound appealing, maybe you should reconsider having kids. I was never a huge social butterfly anyway. DH was and he doesn't miss not socializing 24/7. He loves to spend his free time with his family. Also get older and become more independent. It will be easier to socialize when they get older. But the days, you could drop everything and pack your bags and go to a cabin for the weekend on a whim are probably over till the kids are in HS.

Posted by: foamgnome | October 31, 2006 12:23 PM

This is an interesting topic. I totally agree with Momof4 about the importance of being courteous-- I am 5-10 minutes late more often than I care to admit (I apologize profusely, but I know that's not the same as being on time), but I can't imagine showing up 40 minutes or an hour late as mentioned in the blog today without calling. It's just rude.

There are an enormous number of opportunities to meet new people as a parent of young kids-- I think its right up there with freshman year of college as a window to make a bunch of new friends if you want, but like anything, if you don't fit in to a standard mold, it's harder. I am actively putting myself out there to meet new people, but as a socially liberal homeschooler, its tough. Mainstream folks think I'm nuts to homeschool, and a fair percentage of homeschoolers are very conservative, and so we don't gel. But I'm getting better at meeting new people-- worst case scenario, I'll be ready to go into politics after all the meeting and greeting I've been doing.

Posted by: YetAnotherSAHM | October 31, 2006 12:24 PM

To Stephanie

It's not that the relationships no longer mean anything. It's just that there are only so many hours in a day (or week), and I at least tend to be a low-energy person who can only do but so much. I think it might be easier if I stayed at home and got my fill of the kids during the week, but who knows. It's not that I turn down chances to see my friends. It's just I don't initiate them, and likewise, they (some of which have children and some of which live far away) don't initiate them either. And when someone wants to get together, there's the issue of what activities we're already committed to, whether children are welcome, whether we can find a babysitter, how often we can afford a babysitter (at $ 10 an hour), etc. It's just not that easy, but you don't realize it until you're there.

Posted by: Sam | October 31, 2006 12:25 PM

foamgnome
It sounds like you're trying which is all you can do! I also weary of trying. I feel like I'm just not that important so often.

by the way, do you do gnomes? I have a gnome collection decorating the exterior...which reminds me...I better take them back inside before the sun sets or else my gnomes will be reorganized into some 'sultry' positions by the Halloweeners! aaaahhh!

Posted by: dotted | October 31, 2006 12:25 PM

I'm one of those people who always said - "when I have kids, I'll integrate them into my life and keep doing the things that I enjoy" - I spent a lot of time wondering about couples whose lives revolved around their kids to the point that they didn't do anything fun anymore

well, I still try - but the reality for us is that it is so expensive to have a babysitter for a night out planned well in advance and when we get "breaks" with family help, we usually just want to sleep or clean the kitchen floor

and I tried the "take the baby out for the day's events" once and paid for it for a week in her crankiness

so to stephanie, I'm not sure it's always a calculated decision to only spend time with spouse and kids, it sometimes just becomes the reality

btw, I usually fit in a sunday brunch with girlfriends on a morning after my husband has been watching college football all day - we trade off weekend play time to allow each of us to stay connected with friends; but it is really hard to have time/energy to keep up our pre-baby social life

Posted by: justhavetosay | October 31, 2006 12:26 PM

foamgnome-
Actually, it was easier for us to go away for weekends when they were little. We went away all the time with no problem at all. The littler, the easier for us. We hiked up the tallest mountain in Australia with the littlest in a back carry. We did tons of activities when they were little. But now... between sports, homework, music etc., it is much harder now they are middle school age and up.

Posted by: dotted | October 31, 2006 12:29 PM

To dotted: No, we are actually not that interested in gnomes. But my best friend and her husband (when they were in college) used to steal gnomes for fun. They would say they were liberating the gnomes. So I made a gnome out of a foam pillow and gave it to them once as a reminder. The gnome was holding a sign, please do not steal me.

Posted by: foamgnome | October 31, 2006 12:30 PM

I can relate to this topic. I also work part-time and desperately wanted to meet parents who were home so I had someone for my kid and I to socialize with during the day. I sort of figured she was not meeting all of my socialization needs and I was not meeting all of hers. My closest friends from high school and college lived far. And many of my new friends were from work and not so free during the day.

In the begining the process felt a bit like dating. I'd meet another mom we would exchange emails and sometimes we would get in touch and sometimes not. But I have had so many friendships develop during that time. It is fun to have people that are in the same life stage as you. I do not feel that I have lost any close friends.

It has been great for my children to have peers to socialize with and develop friendships. I hope to continue to meet people as my children move through shcool and develop new interests.

Posted by: Raising one of Each | October 31, 2006 12:32 PM

To Phoebesnow:

I don't think babysitters are a bad thing, but typically we spend so little time with our children after working all week, that we hate to have to pawn them off on family or friends a lot. I'm actually extremely grateful when my in-laws offer to babysit so we can see a movie or have dinner in a nice restaurant that doesn't serve crayons and balloons on the side.
But by having friends with kids we can all get together, trade off on monitoring the kids, have fun, and save ourselves $40 in babysitter fees.

Posted by: MadisonWIMom | October 31, 2006 12:34 PM

foamgnome
I'm laughing too hard to type well. so you wouldn't be one of those redecorating my gnomes this evening would you???? I needed to laugh today. Thanks bunches!

Posted by: dotted | October 31, 2006 12:34 PM

Friendships evolve after you have kids. Some friends get neglected, to tell the truth, and that's it for that friendship. Later on, your kids will grow up and you'll make friends with the school moms, the soccer moms etc. Definitely enjoy those friendships, but realize they are equally temporary because of your shared circumstances. To make real friends, do it on shared circumstances and interests. One of my best friends is a mom I met when my 11 year old was in preschool. The kids don't go to the same school anymore, but because we were similar in views, interests (beyond the kids), we keep up our friendship and enjoy our own playdates with each other. The smartest thing a new mom can do is keep up with her own pre-baby interests, views and hobbies. Your old friends, especially the childless ones, may drop off the map, but new ones will come along.

Posted by: Fairfax | October 31, 2006 12:36 PM

A few months ago, I could have written this post too. I also work part time and for the longest time I have felt like I am straddling two worlds--stay at home mom and working mom--but not quite fitting into either. What's even more isolating is that I telecommute. Yes, I know, poor me. I wouldn't trade it for the world, but I do sometimes wish there were a co-worker to gossip with at the water cooler.

So it's been hard to make friends. And when I do make the extra effort with the SAHM's, like volunteering for something with our local parent's group, I don't feel like I fit in when all the other moms have these "shared experiences" like the ice-cream social, storytimes or playdates. Then again, I'm not sure I want to.

I've decided that for now I need to seek out other working moms because they are probably more understanding of my situation (no, sorry, can't do the ladies coffee at 10 on Thursday because I've got to be in NY at a meeting that day!). The problem, as one poster noted, is that FT working moms hardly have time to breathe let alone spend time with other moms.

So my big epiphany has been to make peace with myself and my situation and not try to be something I'm not. I've never been a huge joiner--and even now I can't commit to a weekly playgroup. I've always had just a handful of good girlfriends, who are now scattered across the US. My priorities are my kids, my husband, my extended family, my job, exercise, cooking and cleaning. Maybe catching some news or Grey's Anatomy if it's on Tivo. Sorry if making new friends has to be at the bottom of the list, but my dance card is pretty full already!

Posted by: noroom | October 31, 2006 12:37 PM

When I was young (1950s), my parents frequently went out with their friends to movies, a game of cards, a party...sans kids. We had babysitters - older cousins, church ladies, neighbors, etc.. We always loved the young sitters and were somewhat intimidated by the older ones, but we certainly didn't expect to accompany our parents.

When my husband and I were younger, our friends routinely used babysitters as well. The sitters were relatives, other friends with kids, or neighborhood teenagers. It was assumed by all of us (parents as well as nonparents) that, as adults, our social lives would continue.

I know that commutes are longer now and that single parents are drained with the amount of responsibilty they have, but conversation with other adults seems too important to forego. It's the glue that binds communities and individuals together around issues other than school.

When did it become so common to retreat to the cocoon of our individual media centers at the expense of interaction with the rest of society?

Posted by: footloose and childfree | October 31, 2006 12:37 PM

[We meet up with friends for dinner or drinks several times a week]

Stephanie, when you have kids, this will be the first activety to get booted off the list.

Posted by: Father of 4 | October 31, 2006 12:44 PM

to: footloose and childfree

I remember the babysitters too...and unfortunately the older siblings who got to "watch" us by torturing us all night!!

The thing is, if you can remember the sitters, you were probably preschool age or older. It's much harder (mentally) as a parent to leave a newborn or even a toddler, particularly when you do work 40+ hours a week. The guilt is too much.

Also, have you priced out a sitter lately? My husband and I got a sitter and went to a movie and dinner a few weeks ago. The tab for the (very qualified) sitter--who put the kids to bed at 8pm after they watched a video? $75. We were gone from 5-10pm. That's a lot of dough--never mind what it cost for the actual run-of-the-mill date!!

Posted by: noroom | October 31, 2006 12:50 PM

"When did it become so common to retreat to the cocoon of our individual media centers at the expense of interaction with the rest of society?"

Exactly. I'm asking the same question!

Posted by: childless too | October 31, 2006 12:56 PM

I'm an older mom (one kid in college, one kid a highschool senior) and found that when the kids were little I made a lot of friends with people with other kids. It was just an easier way to entertain - and when the kids got older and went to school, we still remained a "playgroup" in that as adults we made sure we got together for potlucks. I still always stayed in touch with childless friends. Now I'm finding that I'm growing away from some of my friends with kids (not all), just because I am no longer so interested in the kid-centric conversations - I am really enjoying being able to go out to dinner with friends or a movie, and not worry about what is going on at home. Also, I'm a widow, so I appreciate hanging out with people who aren't necessarily couples (which most of my friends with kids are). All I am trying to say, in a long winded manner, is that it goes in cycles - when the kids are older you will have more time for friends.

Posted by: Another Perspective | October 31, 2006 12:59 PM

NoRoom, you pay $15/hr for a sitter?! Who's your sitter, Mary Poppins? Or who's your kid, Baby Jesus?

FWIW, we have a neighborhood kid watch our little feller for $5/hr.

Posted by: spunky | October 31, 2006 12:59 PM

I moved to a new city two years ago when I got married and have had a lot of trouble making new friends -- people seem content, at age 35-40, with their lives as is, don't reciprocate invitations, etc. I joined a book club and all the women talk about is their three-year-olds, who all play with each other. My old friends are an hour or more away and I sustain those friendships. But I am looking forward to that aspect of motherhood -- more contact with women and more potential friends.

Posted by: Alice | October 31, 2006 1:01 PM

It is possible for moms to maintain friendships with childless friends. What does it take? A little flexibility, on the part of all adults involved, and a little effort. For friends with infants and young toddlers, it's easy to meet for lunch and get the kids home for their nap. Or to meet at their home, where they have flexibility. And it is possible to carry on a discussion with a 3 year old, and his mother, at the same time. When friends have promised the kids a trip to the park, the adults are capable of having a conversation sitting on the bench, and still responding to all the "Watch me"'s coming from the slide, jungle gym, swings, etc.

For adults who aren't very tolerant of kids, this isn't a great idea. But I think a lot of moms might be surprised that their friends are happy to make small adjustments, in order to share some time together. And I've been told by many friends with kids that they don't usually ask childless friends to spend time like this. And they really apprecaite the flexibility when it's offered.

If you're struggling to see your friends, invite them to share the life you're leading. Some may say "no thanks", and only want to see you when its adults only. But you might be pleasantly surprised at the people who won't get angry when a conversation is interupted by a child's question.

Posted by: childless, with mom friends | October 31, 2006 1:02 PM

Could it be that the guest blogger and her NMFs just have different interpretations of "4-ish"? Or that the other two didn't see the "date" as a firm appointment?

And who was the play date for, anyway? Kids or moms?

More poor me.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 31, 2006 1:03 PM

Did anyone see the article in the Post a week or so ago, about how empty nest syndrome extends to missing the parents you used to see at the kids various activities? Because, although the parents enjoyed the interaction with the other parents, it was a situation created by the kids' activities and the friendships developed weren't the type to continue beyond that?

Posted by: Sam | October 31, 2006 1:04 PM

I'm really confused. My daughter was born on a Sunday and the following Friday I handed her to my husband on my way out the door to my bowling league (OK, I live in Podunk). I didn't bowl all of the games and the ones I did bowl, I pretty much stunk, but I WENT ON with my life.

Hubby goes to his weekly card games and we each have a night out. We haven't lost or dropped any friends and we don't have babysitter expenses.

Posted by: June | October 31, 2006 1:04 PM

June...
I like what you are doing. You will likely be flamed for it by others here, but happy mom does tend to mean happy family. The baby is both your and your husband's responsibility. Kudos to you and yours for finding some balance.

Posted by: dotted | October 31, 2006 1:08 PM

to stephanie

I hope this doesn't sound condescending, but you absolutely can't get a flavor of what it is like to parent from a blog like this.

I that know when you are contemplating having kids you think a lot about the sacrifices involved, but the truth is that the rewards are beyond anything you can possibly imagine. It is like discovering a new dimension of love that you never knew existed, and a greater sense of purpose than you'd ever imagined. People worry about their social lives, or giving up drinking for nine months, but once you have kids you realize that you'd throw yourself in front of a train to save your child. Parentood just an enormous and enormously wonderful thing.

To answer your question on a practical level, we've maintained a pretty active social life despite having kids. If you want to, you will. It can be a challenge at first - doing social stuff WITH the kids is hard during the 1s and 2s when they hate to sit still and love to get into everything. A standing weekly babysitter is a great option if you want to stay connected with your spouse and see your old friends. After they hit 3, you can do a lot of traveling and socializing with your kids as well as on your own.

Posted by: Maine | October 31, 2006 1:10 PM

To June

Do you WOH? I think how much time you have at home during the week to spend with your family, or to get errands done so you and your husband have free weekend time, affects your ability to keep a social life outside of your nuclear family.

Posted by: Sam | October 31, 2006 1:11 PM

"But I have a question for those parents who've said that they've lost touch with their childless friends: have you initiated an invitation or otherwise made it clear that you're interested in a movie or dinner or whatever?"

How many times have we heard someone complain that all their friends can talk about is their new baby? Well, having a new baby around is an all-consuming experience, which is how it should be.

It works out much better to make some new friends who are at the same place in life as you currently are. With luck, you'll be able to make some new friends as well as reconnect with your old friends once the intensity of the whole thing settles down (or they have kids of their own!).

Posted by: Rufus | October 31, 2006 1:11 PM

June, that does sound good, but what do you do when you and your jusband want to go out together?

Posted by: spunky | October 31, 2006 1:12 PM

Or, as we say in English, "husband".

Posted by: spunky | October 31, 2006 1:13 PM

Just thought I'd provide another perspective ... I'm a single woman, in her 30s, and my closest friend lives nearby and is someone I've known for years. She's now married with kids. We try to see each other as much as possible and I love spending time with her kids. But my friend also makes a point for us to do things together like go out to eat or to a movie or just hang out, without children. The point is, is that friendships evolve over the years and friends come and go; there's nothing wrong with that. But if a friend is a true friend, both people will make an effort to be understanding and make time for each other. Sometimes my friend and I see each other several times a month and other times, we go 3 months without seeing each other. But we are understanding about it and don't hold it against each other and pick up right where we left off. It helps that, though I want to get married and have kids someday, I'm not jealous of my friend -- in fact, I'm learning a lot from her experience and am thrilled she's found such happiness. In turn, she loves hearing about my dating life -- there was no online dating or speed dating before she was married. But we can also just talk about pop culture and families and politics, the same topics we've always discussed. So, if your single friends aren't understanding or making time for you as a new mom, maybe they're not real friends. And if new moms are not trying to make time for their single friends, then maybe the friendship isn't that important to them. (I know everyone's busy, but sending a quick "how are you?" email during your work day to a friend takes about 1 minute.)

Posted by: singlewoman | October 31, 2006 1:18 PM

"In the begining the process felt a bit like dating."

I can relate to this-- when I moved to NYC, making friends was really tough because people are wary about letting someone new into their social circle (esp. here). A New Yorker will strike up a long conversation with you over the towels in the local linen store or at the ice cream parlor on a summer evening, and exchange details like how much you pay for rent, but there's always the awkward moment where it's like "OK, nice talking to you-- but of course, this doesn't mean we're friends or that I ever want to see you again". It was kind of a weird vibe, but I overcame it by meeting people through activities (yoga, salsa dancing, spanish class, etc.).

I think a huge contributor to the friend dilemma in our case is the mobility factor. My hubby and I have lived in 3 cities in 7 years, and some of our best friends have moved on to other cities and our parents live in still other cities. Someone was recently asking me whether someone is going to throw me a baby shower and I said, "Unless we can somehow do a virtual shower on-line, I don't know how I could get more than 5 people to show up-- everyone is so scattered!" If I could magically consolidate them all into one place, 40 people would easily show up. We'll probably move AGAIN in the next year, but I've told hubby I'm sick of making and leaving friends-- time to settle down somewhere, at least for a few years. Enough of this nomadic lifestyle-- it really takes its toll on your social support network!

Posted by: JKR | October 31, 2006 1:21 PM

To Sam: your posts really struck a chord with me. I can relate!

To Stephanie: IMO, it's not that parents are "forced" to drop out of socializing so much as parents would often prefer to spend time with their kids if it has to be an either/or choice. Especially as a working parent, you just feel like the weeks fly by and you hardly got to spend any time at all with your little ones. Like someone above wrote, your priorities change.

My solution is to try to meet friends for weekday lunches, and leave weekends and evenings for my children.

Posted by: No Name Today | October 31, 2006 1:24 PM

As a working mom, how do you meet new people? We have nearly no free time, it takes a long time to make friends.

Weekdays, we work, come home, play with the baby a bit, feed him, bathe him, put him to sleep, eat dinner, pick up, go to bed exhausted. On good days (rarely) it's only 10 pm, often it's later. Baby wakes us up at 6, we scramble to get ready and out the door. No time for anything else. We have a housekeeper every other week so we don't have to waste time cleaning. But on weekends, we have to do laundry, buy groceries, feed, change and play with the baby, make sure he takes naps, otherwise we're all miserable. My husband works from home on the weekends, helps a lot at home, does grocery shopping 1/week, but there's always something "big" that needs to be done on the weekend usually away from the baby, e.g. taxes, job stuff, financial planning... So at best there's time to do maybe 1 thing a weekend, 1 playgroup, or seeing 1 friend(s)... It's really hard.
And as was mentioned B4: your priorities change. I miss my little one enough during the day I don't want to be without him on the weekend. We have too much fun together! And they change so fast when they're little...

Posted by: neuro | October 31, 2006 1:38 PM

My husband and I take different child free nights. I go to bingo or just relax in a quiet home. My husband watches football with a friend or at his parents house.

Both of us are more refreshed and relaxed
after a night by ourselves. My husband also appreciates that I spent most of the time with her when she was younger.

Posted by: shdd | October 31, 2006 1:42 PM

A lot of people are talking about weekday lunches. I work in the city and use my lunch hour to hit the gym. How do you guys find time to work out if you are going to lunch with friends?

Posted by: foamgnome | October 31, 2006 1:43 PM

Having 4 kids between the ages of 4 and 15, it like life has morphed into 1 big party. If beer and cake weren't so nutritionally bankrupt, I could live off the stuff just by going to all the parties I'm invited to.

This is the list: birthday parties, soccer parties, football parties, weddings, funerals, (somebody always brings a bottle under the car seat), baptisms, confirmations, 4th of July, neighborhood civic gatherings, girl scouts, back to school parties, block parties, band parties, neighborhood cookouts, graduations, and I'm even invited to a baby shower for couples next Saturday. And these are just social events commited by obligation.

Oh, an how could I forget Halloween? This is a great way to meet all your neighbors. When I was younger, I went to Georgetown to party, but that was before kids. I like the neighborhood bonanza just as well nowadays.

Sarah's guest blog reminds me just how important social contacts are important to mothers. When I go to the park, I just show up with my kids. If someone else is there, great, but if I have the park to myself, I just play with my kids or take a nap on the bench while the kids run around.

Once a year, I throw a party. All day. Everybody is invited, even my pot-smoking buddies I've know since high school.

I also have my virtual friends here on this blog. Scarry is my best friend, but I also like Megan, Niner, Emily, Experienced Mom, Momof4, JKR, OriginalmomOf2, Neighbor, Lizzie, Rebecca in Ar, Foamgnome... And the childless posters Friend, Meesh, Pittypat, and childless by Choice.

Did I leave anybody out?

Yeah! All the regular guys.

Posted by: Father of 4 | October 31, 2006 1:43 PM

I just got back from walking my 21 month old son in Old Town Alexandria. I said "hello" to everyone I passed, but only a few people even responded. Are we so busy or so fearful of strangers these days that we can't even say a simple "hello"? No wonder it's hard to make mom friends. Also, this area seems so transient that I think people aren't willing to invest the time that it takes to make friends when they are likely to move somewhere else in the near future.

Posted by: Springfield | October 31, 2006 1:44 PM

Reading this blog today makes me think we definitely need to acquaint ourselves with some excellent baby-sitters and move closer to our in-laws (for enthusiastic free back-up childcare). I know babies bring a lot of joy into your life and they are worth the sacrifice-- but man, some of this just sounds exhausting. The work-childcare-cleanup-pass out routine of the weekday that some people describe sounds so scary to me!

I have a question: how many parents on this blog get up early enough for morning exercise/mediation/yoga/quiet time? Anyone? Does it make a difference in your day?

Posted by: JKR | October 31, 2006 1:46 PM

To JKR: Not me. I get up at 5:30 and leave the house by 5:50. I have most things set out the night before, so it goes really fast. I get to the train by 6AM or the latest 6:10. Then I am in the office by 7:00 AM. I work till 4:30 and get to day care to get my DD at around 5:25. Then we are back home by 5:45 each night. I have to set things up for the next day, bathe her and myself, make dinner, feed her dinner, read and play. Then DH comes home and I get a short break and get to do something for myself for about 30 minutes. Then I play and read to her some more and get her ready to bed. I am in bed by 10PM. I am so tired that the only thing I want more in life is sleep. I excerise at work so that I don't take time away from my family. The down side is I don't have any of those friend lunches that people are talking about. But I guess I stay healthy.

Posted by: foamgnome | October 31, 2006 1:50 PM

on the baby sitter fees...my DH works for a big corporation, and he is so smart! He taught me a business trick called collution (sp?). Anyway, the moms and I meet each year and set the nieghborhood price (usually around 5/hr). We have been able to go out to lots of fancy dinners using this tactic.

Posted by: Mrs. Walton | October 31, 2006 1:51 PM

I am in the same situation as many other posters - work all week, play with kids during all other free time, no old friends nearby, no new friends with kids yet. Add that we are recent transplants to DC on top of it.

There are enough of us on this blog we should start a 'friendless working parents' playgroup. How about meeting at 11am on Saturday in somewhere in NW? Like Guy Mason or turtle park?

Posted by: playgroup | October 31, 2006 1:57 PM

regarding saying hello:

I think it is a regional thing. Around here, if you don't say hello or don't respond...you get a strange look. Waving is expected as people pass in cars, walk dogs, etc. I remember the first time I was out of the country walking around and I said hello like I always do...and did I ever get a strange look! ha ha...

There are tons of people I know but few friends alas.

Posted by: dotted | October 31, 2006 2:01 PM

Foamgnome - How do you get out of the house in 20 minutes? Not shower until after you hit the gym at lunch? I get up at 5:15 and the best I can manage is 6:20 or so. I leave around 6:30, work 7:30 to 4:00, get the kids home by 5:15 or 5:20, then do the check homework (something for you to look forward to), dinner, and bedtime routine. Except on piano lesson nights, and in the spring when we're also juggling softball and T-ball. My exercise time is after the kids go to bed, at about 8:30.

Except when my husband and I switch child duties. Then I have a whole extra half hour in the morning because he still wants to get up at 5:15 and I don't have to get the kids up until 6:45 to catch the bus on time. So I get up at 5:15, do a little bit of exercise, get myself ready from 5:45 to 6:45, then get the kids up. I like to think of it as "extra" exercise at the time, but usually I use it as an excuse not to exercise at all after the kids go to bed!

Posted by: Sam | October 31, 2006 2:03 PM

"But I do find that some childfree people just do not understand some of our social limitations. I have to constantly remind them that young children nap in the afternoon and 12 noon is not a good time to start an activity. It should be a time to wrap up an activity."

Ah ... but it's so simple! Strive for balance in all things. Sometimes you and the childfree person go out on *your* schedule, which requires accommodation from the childfree so your bebe can nap in the afternoon. Other times you adjust *your* schedule to meet the childfree person's needs.

Sharing means everybody wins!

Posted by: to foamgnome | October 31, 2006 2:04 PM

father of 4, right back at ya. Springfield if you move to the Midwest you will say hi so many times that your jaw will hurt. When I am out walking at least ten people pass me and wave and I don't know any of them.

As I stated yesterday, I work from home and I am having a hard time making the time to meet new friends. My old friends are in Ohio and my work friends are in DC. I have found a babysitter, so at least I can get out once in a while with my husband. In case you are wondering, I paid her 7 dollars an hour, although she said I could pay her whatever.

Posted by: Scarry | October 31, 2006 2:10 PM

JKR, I usually get up around 3:00 am, but since the end of daylight savings time, its 2:00. that's the time I practise my guitar, do dishes or whatever, and jump on our trampoline.

Foamgnome, thanks for reminding me to get my ass off the blog and into the gym. One thing about being in good physical condition, I don't need as much sleep. Also, the sleep that I do get from exercising viborously is much more refreshing than the days I slack off. I can cop some wicked dreams on the train ride home.

The doctors might not tell you this because it doesn't sell drugs, but exercise is great for treating depression.

Posted by: Father of 4 | October 31, 2006 2:12 PM

I shower when I get home in the evening. After bathing my daughter. I figure I don't get very dirty sleeping in my bed at night. I have long straight hair that I just brush and put up in a bun. After I work out, I take a quick shower at work. So I kind of shower twice a day. I nevr got used to taking showers in the morning. With very long hair (waist length) it would never dry in time.

Posted by: foamgnome | October 31, 2006 2:16 PM

Mrs. Walton

What do you do if one of your neighbors balks at the price of a babysitter? For example when I moved here the lady down the street told me that her husband was a CEO of a company and she was a nurse, in the next breath she told me she paid the babysitter 5.00 an hour. I thought that was low, so I paid her more because she was older and saving money for college.

I am not saying what you are doing is wrong, I just wonder what you would do if what I described happened in your neighborhood.

Cmac maybe I just solved the mystery of not being invited to the Halloween party! Maybe they are mad that I raised the price of a night out.

Posted by: Scarry | October 31, 2006 2:21 PM

Father of 4 forgot about ME!

*sobs*

;-)

Posted by: Missicat | October 31, 2006 2:22 PM

What's next? Liza Minneli staggering out crying about the blues of loneliness?

Posted by: Anonymous | October 31, 2006 2:24 PM

I actually thought the idea of block pricing sitters was kind of cool. To 2:04: I think what child free people do not get is that it is not about me adjusting my schedule. Of course if only adults were involved this would be fairly easy. But you just can't tell a 2 year old, sorry kid your nap will just have to be skipped today or it needs to be an hour early or an hour later. Small children have literal melt downs if they don't get enough sleep. It has nothing to do with being a brat or having limitations on the child. It is simply a matter of how their body works. DH oftne tries to pull the post pone or no nap at all to spend time with his family. Well, it hits him every time. DD is screaming and is upset. She then gets over tired and does not nap at all and it is a night mare for everyone included. Why would anyone want to go through that? And realistically, the child free friends would not be having much fun, if our kid is over tired and having a melt down. So it is easier said then done.

Posted by: foamgnome | October 31, 2006 2:26 PM

JKR, the wife and I have a personal trainer come to the house at night.

It may sound like a VLI, but it isn't. We hired her as a student and she only lives 10 minutes away, so she can pick up a few bucks twice a week, and we don't have to leave the house.

The boy goes down at 8, and she's there 8:15 - 9:15. I highly recommend it.

Posted by: Proud Papa | October 31, 2006 2:27 PM

We pay above market rate for our two kids. We do this because we think our girls are much more challenging than most kids and we feel they earn it. It also makes them much more likely to be willing to babysit.

When they get older we will probably lower the rate for new babysitters, but grandfather the old ones in.

Posted by: Neighbor | October 31, 2006 2:29 PM

Scarry, friendlier out west, huh? There's a lot of nice folks in the DC area too, but there's a fair share of rude ones too. It doesn't bother me too much since my handicap has a way of attracting the nicest people for friends.

Now, I've got to get to the gym. Happy Halloween everybody!

Posted by: Father of 4 | October 31, 2006 2:33 PM

Well, it is nice, but it also has it's downside as well. Have a nice Halloween.

Posted by: Scarry | October 31, 2006 2:36 PM

Scarry took the words right out of my mouth, Father of 4. And it sounds like you can throw a mean party!

JKR, I used to get up around 5 a.m. and pop in an exercise DVD. "Walk Away the Pounds." Then I began ordering more DVDs, some of them different versions of "Walk Away the Pounds." Then I learned during a doctor's visit that I hadn't walked away any pounds... Then I decided to try a step DVD, then I separated from my husband, then my back legs started acting. And so on and so on. LOL. Before all of that drama, I did feel better.

Once I get the pain taken care of, I'll try to work in some exercise time. To think that before kids, I was a three-time-a-week exerciser!

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | October 31, 2006 2:37 PM

"Small children have literal melt downs if they don't get enough sleep."

Yeah, or if you leave them out in the sun too long.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 31, 2006 2:37 PM

"I think what child free people do not get is that it is not about me adjusting my schedule."

Then what you're asking for is the childfree person to *always* do it your way, and that's not an example of life balance or consideration for your friend. Perhaps her schedule also has limitations. Friendship requires compromise on the part of *both* people.

Maybe a better idea is: sometimes Childfree will change her schedule to meet on your terms and sometimes you get sitter/spousal coverage and meet Childfree on her terms *sans bebe* so you can have some uninterrupted grown-up time.

Nobody -- not you and *certainly* not Childfree -- wants to be around a meltdown baby.

Posted by: to foamgnome again | October 31, 2006 2:38 PM

scarry - yes, you probably cost them 8 extra dollars on babysitting!

Happy Halloween Everyone!

Posted by: cmac | October 31, 2006 2:39 PM

Awe, Missicat, and you are the most kind. How could I? I'll do 25 extra situps for that one.

Posted by: Father of 4 | October 31, 2006 2:42 PM

To 2:38 Maybe you did not read all my posts. But I said in one of my earlier posts we do have two nights a year that are completely without children. We get a babysitter and we devote the entire night to them. One night we do dinner and theater show and the other we attend an adults only dinner. We can't give them any more time then that due to the expense and our desire to spend time with our child. That was what was agreed upon. But we still have to explain on a regular basis that our DD naps in the afternoon. So I am not sure what else you think we should be doing to accomodate them.

Posted by: foamgnome | October 31, 2006 2:43 PM

"But you just can't tell a 2 year old, sorry kid your nap will just have to be skipped today or it needs to be an hour early or an hour later. "

I'm sure a lot of people are going to disagree with me on this, but I'm going to say it anyway. ;o)

It's been my experience, having four children who have made it through the toddler stage, that you *can* "tell a 2 year old that their nap will be late or skipped." But you can't wait until they're two to do it, after you've spent two years forcing them into a specific sleeping and eating schedule - up at 7:00, breakfast at 7:30, snack at 10:00, lunch at noon, nap from 1:00-3:00, snack at 3:30, dinner at 6:00, bedtime at 7:30 - without every wavering from the schedule by even a few minutes. If you insist on complete regularity, your child will likely end up unable to cope when the nap does get delayed by 1/2 hr. or an hour for whatever reason.

Posted by: momof4 | October 31, 2006 2:45 PM

okay cmac you are probably right, but come on, I made 5 bucks 15 years ago and the mom is married to a CEO and she is a nurse.

Posted by: scarry | October 31, 2006 2:46 PM

Whenever either couple gets together, we always ask if it works in their schedule. Lots of times, it doesn't work because our childfree friends have other plans, or school work (they are going to school at night), or other commitments. We certainly don't ask them to drop everything and come running at our beck and call. We also never ask them to justify why they can't make it. But they constantly sort of sigh or get annoyed when we remind them of our DD nap time.

Posted by: foamgnome | October 31, 2006 2:46 PM


Wow. Just two nights a year to socialize childfree?!

Posted by: childless too | October 31, 2006 2:49 PM

I also think your attitude towards relegated nap times changes with the number of children you have. We know some people with 3 or more children. By the time the third comes along, they get taken along for the ride during the older ones' activities regardless of nap schedules!

Posted by: Sam | October 31, 2006 2:52 PM

Two nights with that specific couple. We do get the occasional night out with just my husband and ourself. Also when we visit my brother, we get a babysitter and the two coples go out. But even that, my brother wants to cut out. When DH and I want to go out to eat or see a movie with just us, we try to get a sitter and do it close to nap time. So DD sleeps part or most of the time with the sitter. That way she is not really missing any quality time with us.

Posted by: foamgnome | October 31, 2006 2:53 PM

Funny about the waving/not waving. Whenever I go back to the South to visit the parents, I'm always reminded of that custom of greeting strangers with a wave or a friendly 'hey'. So different in big cities where if you smile at someone you're considered a weirdo.

Interesting about the various morning routines. Is my dream of morning exercise post-baby just that-- a dream? Pre-pregnancy I was a 4-6 x a week runner with 1-2 yoga classes thrown in...guess whether I ever get back to that (or even near) will depend on our circumstances and my level of discipline. During pregnancy yoga and walking have worked, but I was so extremely tired first trimester that a 20 minute walk seemed like major exercise (when a 30 minute run used to be the minimum!). I can see how a personal trainer would kick you in the butt and force you to exercise during the week not just on the weekends.

Some of these daily routines you guys describe just sound brutal. It makes me tired to read it-- and it definitely discourages me from wanting to work full time while the kiddies are very little and can't do much for themselves. Makes me think part-time/flex-time is a must-- hope I can work it out somehow!

Uh-oh. I think I just felt the reality of this whole parent thing set in. Excuse me while I try to figure out how to become extremely wealthy and hire gobs of skilled help within the next 4 months. Paging Caitlin Flanagan...

Posted by: JKR | October 31, 2006 3:48 PM

"I also think your attitude towards relegated nap times changes with the number of children you have. We know some people with 3 or more children. By the time the third comes along, they get taken along for the ride during the older ones' activities regardless of nap schedules!"

This is definitely true. I've never been a nap schedule mom, even with my first and second babies - but when you have older children in school/activities and babies/toddlers at the same time, you just can't get away with making sure you're home from noon to three (or whatever) every day for naps. And I feel sort of sorry for the older kids whose moms insist on it.


Posted by: momof4 | October 31, 2006 3:51 PM

I am six months pregnant with my first child, so I'm sure I'll have a different perspective on all this soon. However, I have found that my one close friend with children does tend to do a lot of inconsiderate things, probably without even knowing it. For example, she calls me on the phone to chat, but spends the whole time interrupting the conversation to scream at her kids or talk to her husband. I wouldn't have a problem with it if I was the one calling her, but I think it's rude to call me and then expect me to listen to all that. The other extremely annoying thing she does is outline in great detail every single bodily function that her kids have. Frankly, I really don't want to hear about the consistency of little Jimmy's poop or how it's affecting his mood today. Nor do I want to hear about poor Suzy's constipation. Or when little Jimmy got ringworm on his private area. When did this stuff become appropriate conversation fodder? She's also ALWAYS late. I tell 'ya, it makes me avoid making plans with her or answering the phone because everything has to revolve around her and her kids and she fails to see that others don't find them as fascinating as she does. I just pray I remember this lesson myself with my childfree friends after my baby is born.

Posted by: TS | October 31, 2006 3:54 PM

JKR (and other runners) Here's a win-win for you - new mommy friends and exercise.

http://www.seemommyrun.com/

Of course it requires the purchase of a VLI (the jogging stroller) although my friend in Manhattan solely stroller uses a jogging stroller.

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | October 31, 2006 3:56 PM

"When did this stuff become appropriate conversation fodder? "

It didn't. Some people are too polite to tell their friends that they are crossing the line.

Posted by: DZ | October 31, 2006 4:04 PM

"The work-childcare-cleanup-pass out routine of the weekday that some people describe sounds so scary to me!"

Don't worry! It's tiring but it's more fun and rewarding than it sounds! I figure no one wants to hear about how thrilling it was for me to see my girl consistently put the triangle block into the triangle hole time last night, so when I say all I did last night was play with the kid, cook/clean, and collapse in bed it sounds boring. But really it was a great night!

I would like to get up early and do some yoga and quiet meditation, but it ain't happening. DD is what they call a "rooster baby" -- up with the sun. Maybe in a few years I'll get back to it. It's OK though. The trade-off is worth it.

Also generally re: scheduled naps. A lot of it depends on the baby's temperment. Some kids do best with a strict schedule and some are more easy-going. Don't make it out to be the parents' "fault" for insisting on a schedule. I'm sure they know what does and does not work for their child better than anyone else.

Posted by: Mamma S.W. | October 31, 2006 4:05 PM

PoaWM, I'm a big fan of the jogging stroller! Wife got it from some family at the baby shower, and I would prefer to use it more often than not. When you have a jogging stroller, the only other you own is the $20 umbrella stroller(s) that you just keep in the trunk of the car(s). Other than that we always use the jogging stroller because it is sturdier and the balance is better. The big wheels roll more freely too. And as a tall man you don't have to bend over to push the jogging stroller like you need to bend to push the little umbrella strollers.

Now, I happen to hate jogging, and no amount of happiness about a stroller is ever going to change that. ;-)

Posted by: Proud Papa | October 31, 2006 4:06 PM

When did this stuff become appropriate conversation fodder? "

It didn't. Some people are too polite to tell their friends that they are crossing the line.

I'm sure you both say stuff that your friends don't want to hear either.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 31, 2006 4:14 PM

Regarding the appropriateness of certain topics for conversation, I agree completely and don't believe I ever bored my friends and family with it. That being said, for a brief period (maybe a few months) after your children are born it seems like your entire life revolves around your (nursing) or their (no need to explain) bodily functions or childhood illnesses, so it's hard to find anything else to talk about. I know, very sad. Probably those who do talk about it end up forgetting it's not really appropriate conversation, and continue. But I remember a lot of inappropriate conversation happening at all stages of life (such as details of your friends' dates you'd really rather not know), so I think there are just people out there who don't have a sense of what's appropriate and what's not, and will carry that forward in all aspects of their life. Or, stated more nicely, have different views than some others of what's appropriate and not appropriate.

Posted by: Sam | October 31, 2006 4:22 PM

I have to say, the "work-childcare-cleanup-pass out routine of the weekday" is lots of fun, especially all the part that involves the kid. It's so amazing to see how they analyze the world, how they try to understand things and to communicate. It's so cool to see how they point at something, clearly asking the name, how they take the hand puppet from you and put it on their tiny hand, how they give you the thing you requested, how they decide to feed you... Maybe it doesn't sounds so much fun, but it's thrilling. :) And yes, some child-less friends get it, some not. I share different things with different friends.

Posted by: neuro | October 31, 2006 4:24 PM

Very good point, Sam. Come to think of it, she did tend to "overshare" about her dating life before she had kids. I guess I was probably just more interested in that particular line of inappropriate conversation. So it may not be fair of me to expect her to know there's a limit now.

Posted by: TS | October 31, 2006 4:30 PM

I think the analogy to Middle school is a good one, but as far as I can tell you're still stuck there.

Unless you quit your job you'll never be a stay-at-home Mom, but here you are trying hard to be one of 'them'.

Yet you fret about the tardy arrival times. Your time isn't the same as theirs.

Accept yourself for what you are, and don't worry about trying so hard for friends. There are lots of working Moms just like you, you'll find each other on time!

Posted by: RoseG | October 31, 2006 4:33 PM

Yes, TS, sex is more interesting than baby's pooping habits and ringworm!

Posted by: Sam | October 31, 2006 4:36 PM

"I think what child free people do not get is that it is not about me adjusting my schedule."

Then what you're asking for is the childfree person to *always* do it your way, and that's not an example of life balance or consideration for your friend. Perhaps her schedule also has limitations. Friendship requires compromise on the part of *both* people.
_________

To this anon. poster: I think what foamgnome is trying to say is that it's not about her needs, it's the needs of a child that she's trying to give priority to. And her other posts make it clear they do spend a lot of time with adults-only. Very balanced. It doesn't sound too weird to me. What's wrong with saying "I'm not available to hang out between 1 and 3, but I we can get together later in the afternoon"? How is that being inconsiderate? It's just a fact of her life: she has some time constraints. How does that make her a bad friend? It's like if you said, "I have to drive my mother to her weekly doctor's appointment at 1 pm, but I'm free later." Would that make YOU a bad friend? Is that showing a lack of consideration? No, it's just life.

And what's with all this "your terms" "my terms" stuff? You make friendship sound like negotiations with North Korea. I may be over-reaching here, but it seems like you want your friends to prove how much they value you by doing things "on your terms." "If you really love me, you'll meet me at the museum Saturday at 2!" That's not friendship, that's blackmail.

Frankly, if you insist on equal consideration vs. my 2-year-old's needs, you'll lose. I'm sorry, but you're a grown up and you should be able to adjust better than a baby can.

Posted by: to "to foamgnome" | October 31, 2006 4:38 PM

That's the part that really kills me. These are not babies' pooping habits we're talking about. This is a five year old, a three year old, and worst of all, a twelve year old stepchild we're talking about. I feel bad and embarrassed for the poor kids. I don't think I'm the only one she tells this stuff to.

Posted by: TS | October 31, 2006 4:40 PM

Balancing friendships when you have kids defintely requires some effort, but it also depends on the temperaments and energy levels of the individuals involved. For example, I am perfectly happy mostly socializing with my family, which I am fortunate to have close by. I see a few friends occasionally also. I just don't have the time or energy for anything more than that, and committing to more than that would just not be fun for me. It would be too much work. My husband is the same. I do see people, however, who go out a lot more often than we do. It makes me tired to think about it. I can imagine, however, that if I did not work, I would want a lot more adult interaction. The way I get in exercise and friendship during lunch time is by walking with my coworker walking buddies. We gossip and get our heart rate up at the same time.

Posted by: Emily | October 31, 2006 4:40 PM

Wow, TS, that IS inappropriate. Poor kids! Poor you! Almost make you wish her kids yelling in the background will interrupt her half of the conversation, doesn't it?

Posted by: Sam | October 31, 2006 4:44 PM

Indeed! I make sure never to tell her any of my more colorful pregnancy symptoms, for fear they will be shared with many others. :)

Posted by: TS | October 31, 2006 4:46 PM

"Also generally re: scheduled naps. A lot of it depends on the baby's temperment. Some kids do best with a strict schedule and some are more easy-going. Don't make it out to be the parents' "fault" for insisting on a schedule. I'm sure they know what does and does not work for their child better than anyone else."

I think this sort of thing is *partially* dependent on the baby/child's temperament. But I'll go out on a limb and say that more if it is dictated by the parent's wants and needs. My four children all have very different personalities and temperaments, as well as different needs regarding the amount of sleep they get. But because they were treated similarly by me, they all adapt very well to different situations regarding when and where they sleep. The same thing can be said for families where they follow a strict nap and bedtime regiment - several children with varying temperaments all act similarly regarding when and where they need to sleep.

If I had a nickel for the number of times I've heard "I *have* to have my kids nap for two hours every afternoon or I will go insane" or "my kids go to bed at 7:00 every night because I need my evenings as adult time", I could hire JKR that help she needs so she doesn't have to work full time. ;o) Generally speaking, parents put babies and children on schedules because it works better for the parent, not because the baby really needs it. The SAHM who is at her wits end and needs those two hours in the afternoon - the daycare who needs all of the children to nap at the same time - etc.

Yes, babies and young children need to nap, and they need to have a long period of sleep at night. But they don't have to have it at the exact same time and same place every single day. If you start off being flexible...if you don't always put them in their crib in a darkened room and tiptoe around (or put one of those obnoxious "shhhhh! baby sleeping!" signs over your doorbell) while they nap - if you let them fall asleep in the carseat or stroller, or in your arms while you're having coffee with a friend, or on the couch during an older sibling's playdate, instead of rushing home at 12:30 to put them down for their 1:00 nap in their darkened, silent, room....you will likely raise a child who is able to adapt and not be totally thrown for a loop when different situations warrant skipping or delaying a nap.

Posted by: momof4 | October 31, 2006 4:47 PM

I don't have kids, but I do try to maintain relationships with those who do. I never found it difficult to go over to their houses, play with the toddlers, etc. Now that the kids are getting older (grade/middle school) I find it more difficult to keep up with the parents who are always out and about with the kids' activities.

Am troubled by the cavalier attitude toward friendship articulated by some of the people on this board ("oh, friends come and go," etc.) Yes, to some extent this IS true, but I hope that when I'm old I'll still have friends who remember me when I (and they) were young.

Posted by: KJ | October 31, 2006 4:52 PM

Thanks, PoaWM! That site looks like a great resource!

Thanks to those that chimed in about the joys of the exhausting routine, too :)

I've been warned by all my parent friends that, yes, I will become fascinated by poop. I can only hope I do not share my fascination ad nauseum with childless friends. Funny how you get inured to that stuff as a parent. My hubby (who is very polite) was horrified to hear his cousin's 3 year old say to his Dad, "I have to go ca-ca". Hubby said, "Doesn't anyone teach their children civilized terms like 'number 1' and 'number 2' anymore!?" He insists poop will never be an ok topic. Check with me in 6 months to see if he's broken down!

Posted by: JKR | October 31, 2006 4:53 PM

Mom of 4, I agree generally with what you're saying. But I also think that none of your kids are truly high-maintenance or you wouldn't take such a high-handed tone.

For example, I have a young relative who needs his schedule or he turns into a completely different kid (in a bad way). He needs to eat at definite times, sleep at definite times, and is big on knowing exactly what to expect and when. His older brother is not that way, and can stay up a little late or skip a nap without too much fuss. None of this is because of what their mother did "wrong" with either one of them.

Just don't be so judgmental is all I'm saying. I think your advice works *most* of the time, but some kids are different.

Posted by: to Mom of 4 | October 31, 2006 4:55 PM

Needs to eat and sleep at definite times? Is he autistic by any chance?

Posted by: to to mom of 4 | October 31, 2006 4:57 PM

"And what's with all this "your terms" "my terms" stuff? You make friendship sound like negotiations with North Korea."

Oh my ... didn't mean for it to seem that dire! What I have in mind is a particular situation that I'm in. Single/no kids/working me trying to plan social engagements with old friend who is a married SAHM.

I would prefer to do things on weekends, when I have the most free time, but she wants that time for husband/baby. She has the most free time during the day on weekdays, when I am at work.

My point is that sometimes I should finagle a loooong lunch hour and we can have a nice lunch downtown on a weekday, even if it means that I have to play catch-up later in the day or reschedule a meeting. Other times she should leave baby with husband/sitter and come do something with me on the weekend.

Now, maybe I can finagle a long lunch, but I can't necessarily *also* make that fit around her baby's nap schedule. So on weekdays we meet at the time that I can do, and she makes whatever accommodations she needs to make to do that. OTOH, I have total weekend freedom and can come at any time that her husband can take the baby on the weekend.

In my experience, though, it's been no weekends at all, because that's sacred family time, and she will *try* to come downtown to have lunch but it has to be only between the hours of X and Y because of baby's schedule. So it's sort of her terms or no visiting at all. That just doesn't seem respectful to me.

Balance. Sharing. One person picks one time, the other person picks the next time. That's all I meant by the 'my terms' and 'your terms'.

Posted by: anon talking to foamgnome | October 31, 2006 5:00 PM

To JKR - Don't just get back to us in a few months. Get back to us in a few years, if this blog is still going, and you and your husband are trying to get through potty-training, particularly if your child is resistant. I remember a child's book that, when I was childless, I thought was disgusting and swore I would NEVER read my children. I managed to keep to my "high" standards with my oldest, who eagerly picked up on everything right away. But with my son, who resisted, not only did I read it to him ad nauseum, but I borrowed the video from someone . . . .

That being said, I've always resisted discussing the issue outside of our house, unless it's sharing information with moms going through the same thing, or your day care provider.

Posted by: Sam | October 31, 2006 5:03 PM

"I never found it difficult to go over to their houses, play with the toddlers, etc."

I don't find it difficult, I just don't always find it enjoyable. Sometimes I want to have adult conversation/activities and not have any children around.

Posted by: to KJ | October 31, 2006 5:05 PM

JKR,
You don't need to discuss poop with other adults (even your ped. doesn't want to hear about it unless there's a serious problem), but, I think you have to talk some about it to kids as a part of potty training. At least you can choose whatever terms bother you least (that your kid can pronounce).

Posted by: YetAnotherSAHM | October 31, 2006 5:06 PM

To anonymous poster to foamgnome, that sounds kind of crazy. Seems like weekends, when the husband is home to take care of the baby, are the perfect time for her to meet you. And the baby's schedule then shouldn't matter.

Posted by: Sam | October 31, 2006 5:11 PM

When I was pregnant, a long time ago, the OB nurses told me to go about my regular routine when the baby sleeps. Vacuum, normal volume on TV/radio, don't close windows to block outside noise, etc. They suggested that the baby would sleep through anything if special quiet accommodations were not made. Let them learn to sleep with noise. Also, my girls were able to sleep in strollers, on a blanket on the floor, couch, in my arms, etc.

This worked for mine, but that doesn't mean it will work for all. But, if you are interested in trying, then you must start from the day you bring them home.

Posted by: lurker | October 31, 2006 5:20 PM

"Seems like weekends, when the husband is home to take care of the baby, are the perfect time for her to meet you. And the baby's schedule then shouldn't matter."

I know! Seems logical to me. I believe her thought is that her husband works very long days during the week and the weekends are the times when the three of them can do things together. Which is totally understandable ... my point is simply that we should try to be flexible and change it up and have a balance.

Posted by: to Sam | October 31, 2006 5:25 PM

I think you should mention something to your friend about the excessively personal topics, ESPECIALLY about the 12-year-old. It's really a violation of his privacy to discuss his personal health with her friends.

She's probably just clueless and doesn't realize how obnoxious she's being.

OTOH, I used to date a guy whose family was the same way. At thanksgiving dinner that year they all discussed dad's constipation and what they thought was causing it! They were a lovely family otherwise, just had a very broad definition of appropriate conversational topics. ;-)

Posted by: to TS | October 31, 2006 7:23 PM

I know exactly how today's blog writer feels regarding the play date moms who didn't keep the date. It is harder to make friends these days because it's now socially acceptable to flake out on a social engagement. People say they'll be at your dinner party, then they just won't show. And they think they haven't done anything wrong. You rarely get a thank-you note for wedding gifts anymore either, but that's a whole other topic. ;-)

Back when I was a brand-new mom, as my very first post-baby foray back into my old social life, I had invited a friend over for Saturday lunch and even though I was sleep-deprived I worked hard to prepare a really nice spread for the two of us. My husband was travelling for the week, so I was on my own, and I was really excited for some adult company. 30 minutes, an hour, an hour and a half, finally two hours after she was supposed to arrive she called and said she was "running a little late" because she decided to get her hair cut that morning. By that time, the food was cold and soggy, the baby was a wreck because I'd been keeping her awake on the assumption my friend would be there any minute (then I could put her for a nap so we two could talk), and I was so angry I hardly wanted to see her at all. It was a terrible letdown for lonely, exhausted, post-partum me. I realized that she'd been late a lot in the past, but pre-baby I was more flexible and maybe less in need of a friend to lean on, so it didn't bother me as much then. We're still friends, but not nearly as close as before.

Now it's hard for me to make new friends because I'm just so busy. But I have a wonderful family now, so I guess that "balances" out the bad of losing a few friends.

Posted by: 2Preschoolers | October 31, 2006 7:39 PM

4:55 -

I am not judgmental of those who put their babies on schedules, and I did say that I think that temperament does have something to do with it. But I still think that the vast majority of scheduling of children's sleeping is done for the benefit of the parent, not the child. Making that statement isn't judging, it's just an opinion based on almost 15 years of parenthood.

And just for the record - first of all - you don't know my kids, so please don't make a call as to how "high maintenance" they are. And second of all, I didn't say they were "high maintenance", I said they had varying temperaments, personalities, and sleep needs.

Posted by: momof4 | October 31, 2006 7:55 PM

To anonymous poster to foamgnome,
I'm just throwing this out in the hope it may be helpful. I have a childless friend I rarely see because when we do get together, she`expects the outings to go on so long, they are hard for me to make time for. I am happy to meet someone for a childless brunch that stretches out to a couple hours, but I'm not up for 3 hours of window shopping afterwards, KWIM? So, on the off chance you like your plans with friends on the weekend to last all day, that could be the issue.

BUT as I write this, I'm wondering, has she ever left her baby with her husband? Some SAHMs have trouble with that-- maybe that's her issue.

Hope you're able to work something out!

Posted by: YetAnotherSAHM | October 31, 2006 11:20 PM

Happy Halloween everyone! Hope you all had a good time with trick or treats and so on - Father of 4, I assume that superman and the tae kwon doe expert protected the blind beggar? My son's skunk costume was finished and he was so cute, but he refused to go out in it after the party at his daycare. So I was very relieved that I got to go to the party and see him in it!

Wanted to chime in on the nape issue - Momof4, I love hearing someone else talk about NOT scheduling their babies. For the first while after my son was born I felt like every piece of parenting advice I read or was given was that I needed to get my child on a schedule, and yet I couldn't - it didn't work for me and it didn't work for him. It was such a relief to finally decide that routines are overrated and just do what works, and so much easier on us. When people asked me about it, I just said, "he sleeps when he's tired and he eats when he's hungry." Now he's pretty well settled into a regular nap time during the week because he's in day care half days, so he usually wants to nap when he comes home. But weekends it's a tossup. And we do fine. So anyway, I suppose my point is that in addition to parents getting into routines because it's easier for them, I think a lot of them also do it because they think that's what they're "supposed to do."

But I'm glad we never did - it has made it much easier to work in whatever we need to do.

Posted by: Megan | October 31, 2006 11:42 PM

Oh, and Fo4, glad to count you among my blog friends too!

Posted by: Megan | October 31, 2006 11:45 PM

Read the blog when I came home from work, and wanted to check something on it again. Lo and behold, pATRICK's & experiencedmom's posts have disappeared!

Criteria for erasure, please!

Posted by: Just sayin' | November 1, 2006 1:14 AM

The kids brought home pounds of candy. I'm going to pilfer what I can and dump it in the candy basket at work. I know some parents take their kids candy and give it back to them a little at a time, which I think is a good idea, but I just don't have the energy to make it work. It's a hoot watching how the kids save, share and hide their bags of candy.

many years ago, I brought my daughter to a party where they had open dishes of M & Ms. I told her not to eat so many, but she did anyway and ended up barfing. to this day, she's not very interested in candy, especially chocolate.

We gave out playdough this year. It was my wife's idea and the trick or treaters loved it. Who would have thunk it?

My 11 year old went out trick or treating with a group of her girlfriends. when my next door neighbor's daughter wanted to join, she was rejected by one of the girls in the group. "You're not invited!" Ouch! Left both the rejected daughter and her mother in tears.

Which reminds me of an earlier post where I listed who I liked. That was wrong of me to do and I feel bad because I left a lot of people out, including Leslie. The fact is though, that I like everybody until they give me a convincing reason not to. Maybe this blog is getting me more in touch with my feminine side... And that may not always be such a good thing.

Posted by: Father of 4 | November 1, 2006 6:54 AM

If anyone is still reading. My DD is not on a totally strict schedule. I actually wish she was. The problem is our child free friends want to go from 12 noon till around 5 PM. Totally skipping my DD nap. I can't put her down at 5PM and then expect she will fall asleep at 10PM. Do you see the problem. Now, my DD will fall asleep in a car no problem. So last weekend we did give her the nap in the car. That only works when you plan on driving for an hour - 2hours. To momof4: I think a lot can be said about the first kid being the test run. So maybe we will do better with #2. But you really can't fault parents of #1 kid. Not to mention it is the day care that puts them on this totally strict schedule. When DD was really little and at home full time. She was completely unscheduled. She never slept for more then an hour at a time. It was exhausting.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 1, 2006 7:40 AM

As far as you pick a time, we pick a time. That would not work for them either. What if I picked a time that they already had obligations. Should I say, hey it is my time work it out? Of course not. It just seems when they can't make it for a certain time, there is never any further discussion. But if I say I can't because of something my DD needs, like a nap, it is all this drama. Like oh it is always about the kid. I never say oh it is always about your work out schedule, school schedule, your other friends etc... See the difference.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 1, 2006 7:42 AM

Our kids have tons of candy as well, although our 2.5-year-old went through a lot of hers by unwrapping things and taking one bite out of each. I think the unwrapping was more fun for her than the eating.

Last night my neighbor told us about the "Switch Witch" who comes to their house after Halloween and switches 90% of their candy for a Halloween-themed gift, such as a nice book or stickers, etc. I think the Switch Witch will be visiting our house this year.

Posted by: Neighbor | November 1, 2006 7:43 AM

I like the idea of the switch witch. Actually, DD won't remember in a few days and I can give away the candy at work.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 1, 2006 7:46 AM

foamgnome -

I think the problem here is that this one particular friend/group of friends/couple (I sort of lost track of who exactly we were talking about) isn't listening to your needs. Which is, what I think, what you really meant to say in the first place! But talking about a specific situation is different than speaking generally about adult friendships and how children factor in to those friendships.

I guess what I'm saying is that in general I think it's damaging to adult friendships to constantly use our children as excuses to be a flake or to be the one accomodated to.

And it's not just people with children vs. people with no children - it's parents vs. parents. It gets tiring having friends show up extraordinarily late for playgroups when you've spent the afternoon cleaning and baking to get ready, and when your kids have been waiting for hours for their friends to get there. It gets tiring being invited to a friend's house and reading the big DON'T COME IN - BABY SLEEPING! GO THROUGH THE GARAGE!!! sign on the door and having you and your children be hushed when you do come in. It gets tiring going camping with your brother and his family and having to keep your children perfectly quiet for 2 hours every afternoon and while his children nap and starting at 7:00 pm every evening so they can "stay on their schedule."

Your last post actually summed up my point about how schedules are for the parents very well. ;o) "My DD is not on a totally strict schedule. I actually wish she was. " "When DD was really little and at home full time. She was completely unscheduled. She never slept for more then an hour at a time. It was exhausting. "

Megan - I agree - a lot of time baby scheduling is done because people think that's what they're supposed to do. And a lot of times the schedule ends up causing more problems than what it's worth, because the parent feels like they have to rush home or stay home in the first place from things they would really enjoy.

Just go with the flow... :o)

Posted by: momof4 | November 1, 2006 10:33 AM

I hope to have a family some day but this blog is just depressing! Makes me want to stay away from people with kids, even once I have my own! Or least only socialize with those who just do what they feel like and not have protracted discussions about nap schedules. Maybe I'll understand better once I'm a mom, but seriously.

Posted by: SC | November 1, 2006 10:58 AM

Springfield

"I just got back from walking my 21 month old son in Old Town Alexandria. I said "hello" to everyone I passed, but only a few people even responded."

Hmmm, maybe I'm the only one who visualizes a 21 month old on a leash as a bit more disturbing than a pitbull.

I just had to laugh at the image that put in my head.

Maybe these others now how scary a 21 month old really is, and wished to avoid it.

And before you get mad, I'm just kidding, I mean, my 2 1/2 year old has been terrorizing her sisters and parents for a while now, but it's those sweet little moments that make us "walk her less."

Posted by: Mr. EstrogenCentral | November 1, 2006 2:17 PM

crap--I can't believe I missed this one! This is one of my biggest problems---finding friends that I don't have to change or hide who I am in order to enjoy their company. I live hundreds of miles away from my closest friends, and our lives have taken various paths, but we still communicate and see each other. It is a big deal when we do, though. We moved recently in the D.C. metro area, so we are now not in walking distance of our old friends, and it is a much bigger effort to get together. We still do, but the 30 minute walk after dinner or spontaneous cookout just isn't happening. In our new neighborhood it seems that most people have fulltime jobs and older kids--like the one poster said, you just don't make new friends once your kids are past 3rd grade. Fantastic. Now I am really depressed.

Posted by: jane | November 2, 2006 11:30 AM

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