As parents, our focus is often on our children, and so it should be. However, friendship outside of baby group circle is important, too, and we should think about ourselves as well.
Last night, I sat in the garden with my daughters, my partner and two of my best friends. It was a little chilly and rain threatened, but we didn’t let it stop us. Plenty of wood on the chiminea, lots of snacks and toasted marshmallows, the cold air didn’t dampen our spirits at all. We hadn’t all been together socially in such a long time. While we had attended a few outdoor Zumba classes prior to the rule changes and had a laugh there, it wasn’t the same as actually sitting back, relaxing and chatting the hours away.
I have known these two particular friends for around 9/10 years now, and together, we just work. I think there have only been a handful of disagreements between us, and those usually occur under the influence… so rarely… and are soon forgotten about! It doesn’t matter if we haven’t seen each other for months, we still get on and have loads to talk about. We have a group chat, so speak almost daily anyway, which I guess helps our friendship.
As they left at around midnight, I had a quick shower, plaited my hair (it was too late to dry it!) and then fell asleep. This morning, however, I am reflecting on our friendship, how thankful I am for it, and its importance in our busy lives as working parents. I had such a wonderful time, but now I am suffering from a post-gettogether comedown. I didn’t really realise just how much I’d missed this aspect of life until last night.
Why are friendships so important for parents?
We are more than parents
Life has a habit of becoming all about the children. Of course, our cherubs are the most important aspect of our lives in a lot of ways, but this should not be to the detriment of ourselves. Putting ourselves first and remembering our own needs do not mean we are being selfish. Surely, happier parents cannot be a negative thing.
We need a support network
Having a small group of friends who won’t be judgmental (unless it really is necessary) or slag you off behind your back is vital. Knowing that you can share your innermost worries with someone who is slightly removed from the situation can be useful. Friendships can provide you with an essential support network. I definitely have that with my girly friends.
We need honesty
Having friends who will stop and say, “Vicki, hang on a minute. That’s a really bad idea!” or “I don’t really agree with that. Have you considered… instead?” can be a game changer. Life will be full of mistakes along the way, but having friends who are willing to be honest and say it like it is, in a polite and supportive manner, can prevent so many being made.
We need to laugh
I always feel better after an hour or two of laughter with friends. Some days as a parent, particularly in the early days, you can find that the routine is somewhat monotonous. You might laugh about your baby’s cute giggle or chuckle to yourself about a potty training mishap, but often, the hearty laughs are missing. There’s something so special about those people in your life with whom you can belly laugh, snort and hurt because you are having so much fun and reminiscing over the funniest experiences and memories. There are genuine health benefits to this, too, such as a higher intake of oxygen, increases endorphin levels and is a natural stress reliver.
Being a parent is such an enormous responsibility and privilege. However, having time to yourself and reminding yourself and others that you are more than someone’s mum or dad can prove necessary. To me, friendship is a necessity, and I feel lucky to have the ones that I do.