30 Days to a Healthier Social Life
by Christa Melnyk Hines
Reviving a withering social network or starting fresh in a new community isn’t easy for any busy parent, but the importance of developing social connections can’t be underestimated. Parents who feel a balanced sense of connection are healthier and more resilient to stress and anxiety. Take charge of your social life with one small step a day to create a more energizing, fulfilling social life.
Contact a mother’s or father’s group. Ask to attend a meeting as a guest. Put the date on the calendar and schedule a sitter if necessary.
Call an old friend. Reconnecting can help you rebuild your confidence as you start meeting new moms and dads.
Email a mom or dad you’d like to get to know better. Arrange a time to meet up with you and your kids for a play date at the park or the mall play area.
Send a Facebook friend request to a parent you’ve met recently.
Evaluate your schedule and answer a volunteer request. Want to get to know lots of members fast? Volunteer for a leadership position.
Meet the family down the street. Bring cookies and head over with your kids to introduce yourselves.
Kids are great icebreakers. Strike up a conversation with another mom or dad at the park. A casual conversation with another adult can boost your spirits.
Send a card to a friend to let them know you’re thinking about them or call just to chat.
Join an online moms or dads group. Reaching out to other parents online who can relate to your situation can help you feel less isolated.
Text a friend with a new baby. Remember how hard those first few weeks are? Coordinate a time to stop by with a meal.
Are your children in school? Invite other classroom parents to a “seasoned moms and dads” lunch.
Sign up for a yoga, zumba, or jazzercise class. The exercise will give you energy and boost your mood. The group fitness experience will help you feel a sense of connection to others with similar goals.
Time for Parents Night Out! You may feel a little tired the next day, but recalling all the laughs is sure to put a spring in your step.
Does someone in your life zap your energy? (And no, your kids don’t count!) Consciously begin to move away from draining one-sided friendships.
Beware of overcommitment. Say no to whatever isn’t a priority or doesn’t interest you. You’ll do yourself and your family a favor.
Make a list of your favorite forgotten past-times.
Carve out 15 minutes in your day to pursue one of those hobbies. Check out the latest trends with your hobby on Pinterest or in the blogosphere.
Start a walking group with a friend or two. Walking and talking for an hour is great exercise and like free therapy!
Parents know the 4 to 6 p.m.”witching hour” is rough when everyone is tired, hungry, and cranky. Invite other parents, whose spouses frequently travel for business or work long hours, for a two-hour afternoon play date and dinner. Order pizza and ask everyone to bring a side dish. Dinner done, kids sleep well, and you get a quiet evening ahead!
Plan a morning at the zoo or the children’s museum with your kids and invite other moms and dads to join you.
Check out the library for upcoming talks, book clubs, and other activities. Attend a few discussions to meet other people with shared interests.
Organize a game night or book club with a few parents you’d like to get to know better.
Feel roadblocked by cliquey moms or dads? Reach out to a receptive member of the group. If they are on the PTA/PTO, ask how you can get involved. Don’t be pushy and watch your body language. Averting eye contact or hiding in a corner with your phone can signal a lack of interest in connecting. And, remember many parents aren’t cliquey.
Schedule a manicure/pedicure morning out with a friend.
Find a sitter and schedule a nice date night with your spouse. Feeling sociable? Invite another couple to join you.
Invite your neighbors for a backyard BBQ. Have outdoor games like badminton, horseshoes, volleyball, chalk, bubbles, and hula hoops available for the kids to play together.
Support a friend who sells make-up, jewelry, cookware, or candles by accepting an invitation to one of the parties. Go with a budget and enjoy some time hanging out with other adults.
Need a break? Acknowledge when life is getting too busy and take a few hours to do something on your own—head to a pottery place and paint while you sip coffee; go clothes shopping; or take in a movie.
Spending time with other families is fun, but set aside an afternoon with just you and your kids. Head to the park for a picnic lunch, watch a movie together, play a board game, try ice skating, or go bowling.
Regroup around the dinner table. Communication builds stronger families. Talk about your day’s highs and lows, frustrations, and successes.
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