I went to my friend’s house earlier today. I should specify that this friend invited me over to hang, not to merely tag along with my kids for a playdate. This is pretty refreshing since most parents invite me over under the umbrella of our kids playing together–as if adults don’t need social interaction?
Now, my children did join us, and the fact that all our kids played well together is noted, but it was nice to have a couple of hours in the day that focused on an adult relationship. You know, a period where under-developed humans weren’t calling all the shots, nor dominating every topic…
Today we talked about friendships within parenthood.
- How we’ve felt left out from certain social circles due to differing circumstances (schedules, finances, proximity, kids’ ages, etc.) beyond anyone’s control.
- How social media can make it seem like everyone is having fun without us.
- How often, when we finally remember to ask someone to do something socially, it is often too last minute to work–resulting in feelings of failure for not having planned ahead and also rejection because friends already have plans and we do not. FOMO!
- How leaving a workplace can add to your feelings of isolation, acknowledging that work friends wouldn’t completely relieve them either. Outside of TV show characters, do people with kids hang out after work?
- How sometimes it would be nice to just click your heels and be back in college. College…where making friends was comparatively easy!
I’m ever realizing so many of us feel this way.
I’ve been reading The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living, written by happiness researcher Meik Wiking who hails from the happiest country in the world (source). In the book, Wiking mentions that Danes (parents and non parents, alike) socialize about twice a week on average. They get together and hygge. The term hygge takes an entire book to define and explain, but for our purposes, hygge focuses on happy, warm feelings and socialization with family and friends.
Spin the globe and land in the USA where most people will tell you your social life will stink the second you get married. Suddenly: “You’re no fun anymore!”, as the demands of the real world are prioritized for the sake of your partnership (which I’m not saying isn’t a good thing to do). Add kids to the mix and you are rarely encouraged to even attempt spending time with friends. If you are encouraged by others, you probably discourage yourself because of any number of reasons.
It is difficult to create all of the happy memories that bond us together with friends if we are rarely seeing them with the intent to socialize. Is having fun with friends no longer important as a parent?
According to a study done in 2015, social isolation can be more deadly than smoking. Interestingly, there were “no differences between measures of objective and subjective social isolation”, when stating statistics of at least “26%…increased likelihood of mortality” (source). Social media can greatly affect our perception that we are isolated or alone socially. The Mayo Clinic states that friends not only promote health, but also improve your outlook and overall happiness in life (source). Fun and building relationships with friends is VITAL to living a full life.
You are worthy of fun and meaningful friendships. I’m worthy of it, too. We all deserve to feel fulfilled–and fulfillment need not come solely from parenthood.
Stay tuned for more posts about friends; how to make them, how to keep them, how to see them, and whatever else seems relevant.
Thanks for reading, friends!