Life can feel insanely busy. Yes, we must manage our time, commitments, and even the expectations we have for ourselves. Yep, we “give away our time” when we scroll on Facebook or binge watch on Netflix some may say. Others may call out and encourage you to say “no” occasionally. You may have even overheard someone imply you should lower your expectations. But you, and hopefully only you get the say how you spend or give away your time. Some life stages can feel like no matter how well you are intentional to manage your life you still long for 26, better make that 29 hours.
Time Goes Incredibly Fast
It is March! I cannot grapple with that as I feel it was just last week, I was putting away holiday decorations. For those of you who are parents you may get me when I say, “where are my little kiddos?” Friends who had children before me warned me after sixth grade it goes lightening fast. They were not kidding.
Please indulge me as I share a story, I promise it has a lesson in it! In birthing class with my first child my husband and I met the nicest couple. Phone numbers were exchanged, and a friendship was born (then came the babies). The other new mom and I started meeting at Lakes Park after a few months on the weekends to walk with our little ones. A few years later and us each having another baby, we continued to meet at Lakes Park.
Fast forward some more time to when our oldest ones were in the early years of elementary school. At that time of my life I fought so hard with time. Meaning, I knew structure and consistency were beneficial to the platform of our family and the growth of our children. Taking time to acknowledge at times some flexibility and permission to pause are also incredibly important I had challenges with.
One day (prior to me learning the second part of that last sentence) my husband came home from work and I am sure he came home on that day to a scene that probably resembled a scene from the movie Twister with Helen Hunt or the house spinning in the Wizard of Oz. My son at that time struggled with perfectionistic tendencies and he has just crumbled his paper of writing his spelling words out for his homework for about the tenth time. I don’t recall all the details but I’m sure my daughter was in my arms crying, our two dogs were needing to go out, dinner was partially cooked, and I was a frazzled mess.
What I do recall is him encouraging me to go for a walk, a drive, etc. for a moment. He handed me my purse. He said he would get things settled. I took my purse and said, “I may runaway to the Hyatt and not come home until tomorrow.” I was exhausted. Two young kids, my practice was in Naples so hours of commuting a week and I was trying my best to figure out life at this stage. He gave me a kiss and off I went totally confused at what happened.
I did not go to the Hyatt. Where I went was Publix. Yup, I had absolutely no idea where to go so I figured I take the opportunity to go grocery shopping without the kids (my mommy guilt at this life stage was so high as I worked some later hours and struggled to take time for myself).
Moms and dads please learn from me, take time for yourself. Not only will it help you feel like yourself, it helps your intimate relationship, and it also models to your kiddos an important life lesson.
Back to the story. My shopping cart was halfway full, and I called that friend who I walked and spent endless weekends with at Lakes Park. I told her I think I may have gotten thrown out of my house. Surprised, she asked me what happened. I told her and she immediately told me to start putting away my groceries and she would call me back in ten minutes. I said, “okay but what’s up?” She told me she was going to get herself thrown out too. In the seven years we were friends we never met up alone. She called me back and she successfully got things settled at her house with her husband and kids and wanted to meet up. We had no idea where to go or what to do. We decided to meet at Barnes and Nobles and talked for hours. It was a huge wake up call to remind me of the need and importance to block off time for the incredible friendships I had.
Let’s revisit that life can be insanely busy at times. It does not only feel this way for parents. That couple who are on crushing it at work and heading up to the next level. Their schedules are jammed packed too. That couple who are recently retired find themselves busy perhaps with volunteering, traveling, or exploring hobbies now that they have more time to themselves. That junior in high school. Busy may feel like an understatement. Life can be busy and often that is the predictable constant. I am inviting you to consider these three opportunities to nurture and create time with friends at whatever life stage you are in. You do not have to wait seven years to talk for hours. What you need is the willingness to listen to your insides and acknowledge that voice if it is calling to connect.
Connection can come in all forms. The idea of getting a group of friends together at someone’s’ house or a restaurant may at times feel like a math problem you may need that junior in high school to figure out. Seriously, at times it may feel like months until you can get your tribe together. Here are three intentional opportunities you can consider when you whole heartedly need some friend time but feel lost in how to figure out how to make it happen.
3 Strategies To Create Connection with Friends
Consider meeting in an online platform
This may not be ideal for everyone. I get that. However, let me throw it out there for your consideration of how it could work. Deep down you are at that familiar place again where life can start feeling like you are either on a treadmill or playing in a game of Amazing Race. You are pushing to get to the next level, assignment, or appointment and slowing down may feel even harder than ever before. Inside you miss your tribe. The one you can laugh with, let it all out with. The friends you know if you have an hour with you can relax some and even exhale a bit. You’ve exchanged about 752 text messages comparing work schedules, kids’ extracurricular activities requiring mom or dad to drive, and all those other busy life demands. You want to throw in towel and say, “I love you guys, but we may need to try next month.” But you need to spend time now.
It may be a little less scheduling crazy to get your group to meet online. Throw out a couple of dates and times. It may be early in the morning when the house is quite or later after dinner and kiddos in bed. Come as you are…. yoga pants can be the dress code. Bring your warm tea or whatever your favorite beverage is and schedule an online meetup. I have done it with free online hosting sites. It is different than walking into a restaurant and hugging your group, but it does provide connection and space to share, listen, giggle and feel like an adult. I have also been in a work-related group that used this platform. We looked like the beginning of the Brady Bunch but after about 2 meetings we got our groove of the format and it was so helpful to meet.
When you do meet, allow yourself to schedule your next get together before you say good-bye
I understand that incredible feeling when you get everyone coordinated and all show up! No sick kiddos, season traffic in Lee and Collier County was manageable and all work calls and emails are completed versus nagging at you. It is as if the universe just knew you desperately needed your time. The first 10 years in practice I was part of an amazing group of supportive, fun, brilliant women. It seems often as if our life calendars fill up before we can blink. Often when we get together, we schedule the next one before we leave. Every year we have a special holiday get together. One that we look forward to all year. As soon as summer comes to an end, we select a date and preserve it. Some other dates during the year may not be always attended by all but this date we are deliberate and intentional to save.
If preserving dates for your friends is important to you, advocate for yourself. When all say yes to meeting (only positive thinking here!) request them to bring their calendars in hopes you can schedule the next one while your all together.
You will have to speak up!
Your college roommate learned you so well she could finish your sentences. The coworkers you traveled with on several business trips, yeah, they get you too. The neighbor you’ve gotten super close with its as if they know your life schedule and you theirs, they see you. All these powerful connections and still at times you push so hard to not feel the feeling of being alone when it surfaces. You even tell yourself you have no right to feel this way! And here you are feeling like a shell of yourself. These people in your life may have no idea you feel this way. Is it because they don’t care? I want to say no because you’ve invited them into your life. They too may also be trying to figure out how to do their best life.
Rather than give any fuel to that idea let give you another option. Put yourself out there. You got it, make the move. Call, text. IM, whatever form you want to let them know you’re missing them and want to connect. Please take a breather and don’t overthink it. You are not bothering them. You are not sounding desperate or needy. What are you doing is validating your feelings. You set up playdates when your kids ask. You send out the memo when your supervisor asks. You set up the parents’ night out when your partner wants a group to watch the game. It is your turn now.
Find that you need support or a cheerleader to connect with friends? Let’s get this part of your life going! Schedule by visiting my contact page or phone me at 239-848-2022. Read more about our women’s wellness groups.