Being a parent of twins is challenging; both physically and mentally. It can be easy in the first few years to get lost in the fog of exhaustion, diaper changes and bedtime routines. Lately I have been seeing what amounts to manifestos being passed around on social media by moms. These articles, blog posts, and memes jokingly hypothesize that when we become moms we suddenly lose the ability to put much time into our friendships, return phone calls or emails, or even hang out and that it is OK.
Though it may not be the most popular opinion, I believe that although being a mom is the most important job I will ever do, it isn’t the only thing that defines me. I am also a friend, a sister, a daughter, and a wife. I refuse to allow myself to use my children as an excuse to let all of my other relationships fall by the wayside. I would be lost without my sisters, girlfriends, mom, and last, but not least, my husband.
Here are some tips that I have found helpful in keeping up with my relationships during the first few years of twins.
1. Join a local mom’s group through your church, meetup.com, or twin association. This can give your children the social time that they crave and offer you an opportunity for adult conversations. This will give you an outlet to let off some steam and commiserate on topics that your childless girlfriends just don’t understand yet.
2. Set a reoccurring monthly date with your closest friends. You can set it for the 1st Saturday of every month and know that its set in the calendar and then you don’t have to think about it — and it also gives you something to look forward to! Seeing them in person will keep them in the forefront of your mind and you’ll feel more compelled to call, text, and email them back when they try to reach you. Not to mention the fact that you desperately need this this “me” time, and you never seem to realize it until you are physically there.
3. Make contact in whatever way possible. It is OK to return a voicemail with an email or a text. I have a girlfriend who responds to all texts and calls via email when she is up in the middle of the night breast feeding her son. It may be at an inopportune time for me as I won’t get it until I get up the next day, but she is making an effort in the “free” time that she has. If you are waiting for the time to call a friend back because she left you a voicemail, you are never going to find it. Hours stretch to days and you suddenly realize that it has been a week since they called and now you feel like a jerk. Stop putting so much pressure on yourself to return contact in the same form of communication and just reach out in whatever way works for you.
4. Make a workout date with a friend. I don’t know a single mom of multiples whose body has come out unscathed. Ask a friend to meet you after work for a 30 minute fitness walk, or over to hide in your basement and finally crack open that Jillian Michaels DVD workout that you have been promising to start for the last 2 years.
5. Make a set monthly date with your partner. We sometimes take them for granted, but they are our closest and dearest friends. Getting a babysitter for twins (and any other children you may have) can be spendy. Even though you will be tired, staying up after the kids go to bed to watch a non G-rated movie can be just the thing to help you reconnect. If you do have someone to watch the children use this opportunity to break out your nicer clothes (you won’t be fending off food sprays and spit up) and treat yourself.
6. Stay up an extra 15-30 minutes each night to talk to your partner about each other’s days. We all know that trying to talk with our partners while the kids are around usually lasts about 10 seconds before one of them interrupts because they are hungry, bored, want to show you their amazing stuffed monkey, or play a game with you.
7. Invite a friend over to watch a movie or have a late lunch with you while your kids take their afternoon nap. You can get some adult friend time in without even having to leave your house. There is no rule that says that when you hang out that it has to be for an extended period of time or outside the house. If you are holding off on spending time with friends because you think that it needs to be longer than an hour, this isn’t true. Carve out whatever time you are able.
Your friends know that your life has changed and that you no longer have the time to gossip for two hours about their boss or the crazy cat lady at work. You can’t drop everything and run out for a last minute lunch or happy hour. They just want to feel needed and appreciated. Putting in whatever effort you can muster and not being “that girl” who disappears for weeks and never calls back will go a long way. Again don’t feel pressure to call them back if they left you a message; return it in any form you have the energy to do so. These small things will help keep your friendships alive until you can emerge from the fog of the first few years with little ones and are able to hang out more regularly.
Destiny Effertz is a stay at home mom to 3 boys under 4. Prior to having children she worked as a paralegal in a large civil litigation firm. Now she uses those research and organizational skills formulating new pie recipes and planning family vacations.