One of my favorite posts I ever wrote was about making friends as a grown-up.
I’ve been so surprised by how challenging making time for friends can be once you’re an adult with a job, children, a house, or a million other time-consuming responsibilities.
Over the last few years, I’ve felt like I’ve gotten better at making time for friends on a regular basis (although still not nearly as much as I’d like), and I thought I’d share a few tricks that have worked really well for me.
Making Time for Friends
- Organize around a reoccurring event. One of the best things I did in Arizona was starting two birthday lunch groups. Each group had 5-6 people and we’d get together for lunch whenever one of us had a birthday. Every time an alert that someone’s birthday was coming up popped up on my phone, it was a quick group text to say, “Hey, Camille’s birthday is next week – what day should we get together for lunch?” There was no reinventing the wheel and it meant that, at minimum, I got together 5 times a year with the people I wanted to spend time with. Organizing around a reoccurring event (a birthday, a holiday, the start or end of school, whatever works for you!) makes it so much easier and everyone expects it. (I wrote more about the birthday lunches here!).
- Put it on the calendar. How many times have you said to a friend “we should get together?” and then you never do? It can’t be just me. Last summer, my friend Kayla and I decided that we’d get together once a month with our kids to go swimming. Before school go out, we picked the dates and put them on our calendar before life got away from us. Obviously, if something came up, we could reschedule, but it’s so much easier than getting to the end of summer and realizing you never got together.
- Choose the next date before you leave. This is related to the last one, but I’ve found that the best way to keep up a routine of making time for friends is making sure you end a current hang-out with scheduling the next one. A group of four of us get together for lunch every month at my house (someone picks up lunch for everyone, the kids play in the playroom, and my baby naps – it’s the best), and before everyone leaves, we choose the next month’s date and get it on everyone’s calendar right away. Otherwise, it’s so easy for it to never happen again.
- Combine work and play. I’d love it if all my time with friends was relaxing on a sandy beach or eating a gourmet lunch at a fun cafe. But when you’re really busy, sometimes it’s more practical to spend time together doing less fun things (and having a friend there makes it more fun). When my mom has come to visit and we’ve painted rooms together, it’s been great time to spend chatting as we tape, remove light switch covers and roll paint on the walls until we have blisters. You can grocery shop together. Similarly, one of the reasons I love going to blog conferences is not just for great speakers or meeting sponsors but also to spend time with my friends who also blog. We usually cram as many people as we can in a hotel room (our record was seven) and that time before bed or in the morning as we all get ready is priceless to me.
- Join a group. I love a bookclub because it’s a built-in monthly friend evening (tips for having a killer book club here). In North Carolina, a group of us started going to a Zumba class at a local church two nights a week and it was really fun to see friends AND exercise at the same time. Similarly, a friend invited me to start going to a gym class twice a week with her here and I now see her more than ANY of my other friends.
- Take a trip together. Some of our favorite trips have been with other families or friends. We took a cruise with another couple when we lived in Texas. We went on camping trips with other families. This summer, we’re doing a road trip to Colorado and meeting some friends from Arizona there. Even though we only live about 45 minutes from Bart’s cousin and his family, it’s hard for us to get together with 8 kids between us, so taking a spring break trip together gave us an opportunity to spend quality time together.
- It doesn’t have to be a major production. Sometimes, it’s easy to overcomplicate making time for friends. Quality matters, obviously, but quantity is an important part of friendship, so a lot of little time together adds up. A few years ago, I was with my girls at the library in Arizona and my friend Preethi from California called saying they were 30 minutes outside of Phoenix, driving through to New Mexico and would we like to meet up for lunch? It was total spur-of-the-moment and they absolutely could have just driven on through, justifying that they didn’t have time to stop and it was too last-minute, and I never would have been the wiser but instead we had a delightful 45 minute lunch together with 7 kids wiggling all over the place and it made our friendship just that much deeper.
- Take the initiative. It’s so tempting to wait for someone else to invite you to a party, to meet up at the park, or to go out to lunch. But if you want to go to lunch with friends and no one is inviting you? Text a few friends and make it happen. Invite a group of neighbors over to watch the This is Us finale or to bring all their gifts over and wrap them together at the holidays. Host a favorite things party or buy ice cream and have. Making time for friends is one of those scenarios where getting the ball rolling makes more things happen. If you invite neighbors over, they’re more likely to have you over too. If you invite a friend to the park, they’re more likely to send you a text the next time they head over there.
I’d love to hear your best tips for making time for friends – what works for you?