This past weekend my family had a long-overdue get-together with some friends.
As many parents know, trying to find the time to leave the house is
extremely difficult when you have three other schedules to work around,
as is the case in my household of two parents and two small children. We
have soccer and birthday parties and work and school and general life
duties that take up much of our time.
So carving out a chunk of a day to spend relaxing with friends is
hard. But what makes it even trickier is finding people you have
commonalities with, and whose kids play well with your kids.
Sometimes it just doesn’t work out. Sometimes you don’t mesh well
with the parents but your kids are friends. Or maybe the kids’
personalities conflict and create great chaos, which leads to parents
spending the entire visit monitoring the children and making sure no one
goes home with a black eye.
But sometimes you find people who are your people. They think a lot
like you and they parent similarly. And they pass the ultimate “couples
with kids” friendship test — the kids become friends, too.
I look for what I call the ability to “free-range parent.” I will be
there to kiss boo boos and be the parental presence, but I expect the
kids to play without my interference. I do them and myself a disservice
by hovering when they’re interacting with other children.
And this weekend we had the perfect blend of nice weather, nice
people and nice behavior. The two other mothers and I became friends
through work at The News-Enterprise and our kids are all close to the
same age, ranging from around 3 to 6 years old. Our husbands cliqued,
too, which was helpful.
When I told my kids who we were going to visit, they both were
excited. My son declared he was going to run up and hug the boys he’d
We can’t seem to find the time to visit as frequently as we probably
should, but carving out an autumn Sunday to spend together was pretty
There was zip lining and baseball and trampoline time — all in one
backyard. The children took turns and played nice and ate copious
amounts of cookies. The adults watched football and talked and ate. And
then ate some more.
But in spite of all the junk food and belly aches from too many
cookies, it was a fantastic day. Since I spend most of my time with my
kids at home, it’s so nice to be in adult company — especially pleasant
And even though we wait far too long between visits, it’s great to
know that whenever we do find the time again, my kids will have their
own friends ready to go.
And that means I can actually enjoy myself instead of worrying. Which is pretty great.
*This column originally published in The News-Enterprise on September 25, 2013.