In the HerStories community, one of the most popular topics of conversation has been online vs real life friendships. Both of us, and many of our contributors, have written about the value of online friendships, how they differ from “real life” ones, and discussed the importance of face-to-face quality time vs. the convenience of connecting via technology.
- We shared our slightly tongue-in-cheek tips for how to make online friendships with other moms at Scary Mommy.
- Our contributor Kate Hall shared why she considers her online friendships to be real.
- Contributor Vicky Willenberg reminded us how important the real-life interactions are, and why we should stop texting and really connect with our friends.
- I argued that online friendships are just as deep and important at Irene Levine’s friendship blog.
- And contributor Jennifer Swartvagher shared her story of how her online friendships became real life ones.
Jessica and I both recently read Rachel Macy Stafford’s new book Hands Free Mama: A Guide to Putting Down the Phone, Burning the To-Do List, and Letting Go of Perfection to Grasp What Really Matters!, and it inspired us to consider how we might become more hands-free, not just with our families, but with our friendships.
As much as I adore the convenient and effective pick-me-ups of a quick text to connect with a busy fellow mom friend, or a snarky Facebook message exchange with my blog pal, I must admit there is something unique and inimitable about quality time spent face-to-face with close friends. I recently enjoyed a rare impromptu afternoon getaway with two close girlfriends to the Hot Springs. We spent several hours together in the geothermal caves, soaking in the incredible, restorative hot pools. Even the drive up and back was exhilarating; we passed dark chocolate pomegranate bites back and forth and gabbed about parenting, marriage, and our careers. When I returned home to my husband and two daughters, I felt renewed.
This type of spontaneous getaway (really, how often can moms be spontaneous?) is definitely hard to come by, but when the chance for a girlfriend escape arises, one should seize it! These same two ladies and I celebrated a milestone birthday in a mountain condo last winter—for two days, it was just the three of us talking, eating, and drinking. We really did very little- we stayed up late talking after a fantastic dinner out the first night, and the next day we didn’t get dressed or leave the condo until 5:00 pm. For three moms of young children, it was heavenly.
During these early childhood parenting years, getaways are few and far between- even a regular Happy Hour may not seem feasible. Whenever possible, try to establish some rituals that are meaningful to you and your friend(s).
• Retreating somewhere beautiful—like the mountains or Hot Springs—to enjoy some solitude and outdoor time together can be rejuvenating. One of my best friends and I have a special lake that we like to walk together as often as we can.
• Exercise together. It’s so much more motivating to hit the gym or snag a lunchtime yoga class if you get to combine friend-bonding time with your fitness goals.
• Indulge in a favorite treat. My girlfriend and I celebrate fall together with the first caramel apple cider of the year at Starbucks. We have done it annually for over a decade. Another mom and I look forward to our favorite food and wine pairings at a local bistro—without our toddlers.
• Carve out a regular, purposeful meeting time Five years ago I formed a support group of sorts with other new moms. We are still meeting monthly to ask questions, brainstorm, vent, and sometimes just laugh about our lives. Our monthly “meeting” is important to all of us, and we make it a priority.
• Take what you can get. In our busy lives juggling work and family, time spend with friends can seem scarce or even impossible. A dinner together, weekend away, or even hour-long coffee with your best friend may not be manageable. So take less-than-ideal circumstances and make it work. My friend and I combine family time with friend time by having regular evening dinner-playdates—affectionately known as “Crappy Hour”—in which we take turns cooking dinner and surviving the Witching Hour with our toddlers. The kids play, the moms drink some wine, our husbands relax with a beer, and it seems to make chaotic family dinners more tolerable. And even though we don’t get to enjoy our standard soul-baring conversation with our families around, it’s better than nothing.
Sometimes all it takes to feel connected is a quick text, phone call, or Facebook message. But every so often, see if you can find time–whether it’s a half-hour coffee, a night out, or an entire weekend– to recharge your friendship batteries with a kindred spirit, with your heart open and your hands free.