If you're anything like me-- and you don't have to admit it if so!--I can get caught up in the idea of doing things more than the actual doing of those things. I like the idea of being someone who reads the classic books and authors, but when my reading time is limited, those aren't the books I pick up. I think of myself as a traveler, though wonder how many years I can go without traveling abroad and still have that self-identity? I want to do more physical activities outside, but often choose sitting at a cafe when free time arises. I love the picture of having friends over all the time, entertaining in those magazine-inspired ways, and effortlessly throwing together parties on a regular basis.
And while I want to keep holding the ideal version of myself... I also know I need to create a way to still lean into what I value even if it's not ideal. For we don't all have unlimited time to read all the books we want, the budget to travel every year, the energy to choose tennis over a drink in a cafe, or the space in our lives for ongoing party-hosting. So I can't always have it all. But surely I can have some of it?
Time-Saving Ways to Connect with Friends
So in our ideal worlds we have 3-7 women we keep in touch with, hopefully getting together regularly and easily for potlucks, parties, barbeques and girls nights out. But what about when life doesn't warrant that all the time? Or, any of the time?
We have jobs, relationships, kids, mortgages, yard work, a growing pile of mail, parents to call, emails to respond to, facebook to check in on, a toilet that needs scrubbing... the list goes on. There is no doubt that we live busy lives. And that list doesn't even include the hope that we can find time to have our "me-time" to include our exercise, yoga, meditation, or at least a glass of wine and fifteen minutes on the couch before bed. We're tired. Busy. Stressed. Where are we expected to fit in our friends?
Here are five friendship ideas I gave to the Chicago Tribune last year:
- Book it: Make a standing appointment with your nearest and dearest. Say every Tuesday night. Or first Sunday of the month. Or get really creative and buy yourselves a season subscription to a theater, or orchestra, or sports team. That way there are no five e-mails back and forth figuring out what works. You've got the slot; stick to it.
- Piggyback it: Figure out what you need to get done, what your dear friend needs to get done, and do it together. Be it a pedicure, or shopping for undies, or a trip to the gym.
- Bond it: When you do make time to be together, don't dawdle around on the surface, take it deeper. Ask questions that matter. Don't just get updates on the kids but find out how she's feeling about her parenting. Use the time to actually bond, not just be together.
- Make it multiples: See a few nearest and dearest friends at the same time. Get together in groups of anywhere from three to six close friends. I don't want to sound crass, but it takes less time to share stuff once, instead of calling each of those friends and retelling the same story. And that way you get four unique responses at once. This generous approach helps more of you reconnect — and if a pressing deadline or last-minute obligation forces one person to cancel, the rest still get to bond.
- Pare it: The challenge for some women is that their network of friends is so vast, they feel they can't possibly keep up with everyone. Pick anywhere from three to five friends who matter the most. You simply don't have to be friends with everyone as that risks you not really feeling close to anyone. Prioritize. Give the most time to the ones who matter most and who feed you the most.
The honest truth is that time spent with friends really will boost our energy so it's worth adding into a busy schedule. But we're gonna have to cut out the guilt trips we're placing on ourselves to do everything! Find a few women who are your priority and start leaning into more time with them in creative ways.
It's not all-or-nothing. We can have meaningful friendships with a little something. :)
What other ideas do you have? How do you make time for your friends? Leave comments sharing your tips!