Friday, February 27, 2015

Why Having Kids Doesn't Kill Your Social Life

It's pretty much a known fact nowadays that having a child is going to do a number on your existing social life.  Before kids, you really only had to be accountable to two people, yourself and your partner.  If you chose the correct partner, chances are you guys like the same things and prefer to be in each others company, so staying out late to have drinks or sleeping off that hangover the next morning is no biggie.  When you have a child though, every fiber of your being is spent making sure this precious being is raised in the best possible manner (and is not killed by the thousands of hazards your mind makes up for you throughout the day).  You aren't so much concerned with going to the bar with friends anymore as you are with spending quality time with your family.  Your previous social life may take a hit, but it's replaced with another that revolves around including your new family in everything you do.  So when people say that kids kill your social life, tell them that yours isn't dead, it's just a bit different.

Jack enjoys going out to eat
Before Jack was born, my wife and I would go out once or twice a month to a nice restaurant, drink some wine, have some good food, and enjoy each other's company.  While the occurrence of this particular date night has decreased quite a bit since his birth, we have replaced it with outings that involve our son.  Where before we may have gone to a nice Italian restaurant, we now spend some quality time in the aisles of Target and then top off the evening with some Qdoba or Noodles and Company with Jack in tow.  The wine may be replaced with Diet Coke and the Chicken Parmesan with nachos, but the quality time and bonding is still there and crucial to our family development.  Plus, toddlers make everything enjoyable, even eating out in public...am I right?

The one part of life that takes the biggest hit though is time spent with friends who don't have kids.  This is unfortunate, and at times the friends without kids may think we just don't want to hang out with them anymore, but that's not the case.  Look at it this way: I'm a working parent.  I wake up every morning around 6:45 and I'm out the door by 7:30.  My son wakes up after I leave the house and when I get home from work around 5, I only have a couple hours to spend with him before he has to go to bed for the night.  When the weekend comes around, I want to spend as much time as possible with him to maximize our time together.  When I ask if kids are invited to your party, it's not because I want to be "that guy" who brings his noisy child, but rather I want to be around my child for the short amount of time we have together on the weekend.  If given the choice between you and my son, Jack is going to win 100% of the time.  That's why you see a lot of parents surrounding themselves with other parents with kids.  They both get that they want to see their children as much as possible and the events we attend (the zoo, birthday parties, etc.) almost always allow children.  When we decide to go solo and do a double dinner date, there is the expectation that dinner will end early enough for everyone to get home to put the kids to bed.  It's not that we don't want to see our childless friends, it's just that we don't live the no child life anymore and new responsibilities have popped up where previously there were none.  And you know what?  That's OK.  One day you may have children and you might understand.  Maybe you won't though, and that's OK too.

Target selfies FTW!
One thing I have also noticed is that you'll find enjoyment in things you may have previously rolled your eyes at.  Weekend trips to the zoo with your child become magical learning experiences where a monkey showing interest in your child is literally the greatest part of your day.  Children's birthday parties pre-kids may have been sources of anxiety and dread, but are now looked at as quality time with friends and learning experiences for your little one.  Trips to the store become the most exciting event of the weekend when you can dress up and goof around with your toddler, stares of onlookers be damned!  What was once boring or monotonous takes on a new meaning with a child involved and you will find that you not only appreciate, but actually look forward to these new events that hold a special place in your heart for creating the most precious of things - memories.

So when you are feeling down about the lack of interaction with your old friends or the copious amounts of alcohol you are no longer consuming, take a good long look and what you have replaced it with.  Do you find joy in spending time with your family?  Is your life full of meaning and special moments doing the things you are your family enjoy doing on the weekend?  If so, then you most definitely have a social life.  It may not be the social life you envisioned, but it's a social life nonetheless and if you are happy doing it, then you are truly experiencing one of the greatest joys of life - enjoying the time you spend with your family.


2 comments:

  1. We've been lucky in that our best friends, for the most part, had kids at the same time as us. When it's time to get together and hang out, all the kids are there. And then we laugh about what these parties USED to be like, only a few short years ago. Where now our kids are the ones passed out on a floor instead of us. You make it work, though. And like you said, it's not gone, it's just different now.

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    1. With a lot of my wife's friends that was the case and it's really cool. On my side of the fence though, all of my friends were just getting married for the most part when we had kids. It is nice to have friends with kids though, that's for sure.

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