So you have kids but you don’t want to relinquish your white-knuckled grip on normalcy and fun. Firstly, congrats on your crotch fruits! Secondly, good fuckin’ luck.
When I only had one kid, it was pretty easy to tuck her into a carseat and cart her around wherever I went. My friends and I were young enough that a baby being around was still a cute novelty, sort of like a puppy but better since Snapchat filters worked on her face. I also had way more free time back then – I actually remember large gaps of boredom when Lucy was one where I’d be like ‘ugh, I have nothing to do. Guess I’ll go to Jess’ and abuse her HBO membership.’
Two kids is a lot different than one kid. It somehow feels like instead of just doubling my kid number, I have somehow managed to quinquagintuple it. I have not been bored in seven months; I crave boredom. My free time has become a thing of the past – now, I actually schedule my activities. I’ve had to set aside an hour each Tuesday to write these damn blog posts because if I don’t write it down, it will 100% be forgotten or overwritten in favor of something more pressing, like pleading with my unimpressed infant to eat the liquefied green beans already.
Me, an intellectual, reading and absorbing words like quinquagintuple.
Between my kids tag-teaming their nap schedules and refusing to let me sit still for more than three minutes at a time (three minutes I spend staring dead-eyed at my phone like a True Millennial), there is not much time left over for myself, let alone for more other people.
So what do you do?
1. Have Amazing Friends in the First Place
The simple intro step is to surround yourself with loving, understanding people who don’t hold your chronic flakiness against you. They ideally knew you before kids, back when you were fun and available and had much perkier boobs. These people understand that you love them deeply even if you don’t check in every other day like you used to.
If you’re lucky, you get a friend like Jess, who will call you and leave sing-songy voicemails about her day without a single hint of aggravation that you missed her call yet again. These voicemails are excellent because you can listen to them while locked in the bathroom pretending not to see the tiny fingers pressed beneath the crack of the door and imagine you are somewhere else.
2. Make A List
So this one feels a little Charles Manson-y but hear me out. If we’re being honest here, your brain is likely a sieve these days. You can barely remember your latest kid’s birthday much less when the last time you spoke to your old coworker was. That’s why a list is handy for this situation: you can’t forget stuff when it’s written down in front of you.
My friend list exists in my notebook and if anyone saw it they’d probably think I was either a serial killer or Luna Lovegood-levels of dreamily deranged. That being said, it helps me. I’ve jotted down the name of every person I want to make sure I check up on – every person I want to make sure knows that I love them, even if I’m garbage at expressing it. Then, beside their name, I try to keep a date connoting the last time I reached out to them. It’s not foolproof, but it helps.
If yall don’t remember this part in the book, it’s time for a reread. … Actually, go reread anyway. It’s good for you.
3. Follow A Schedule
Okay, so you’ve got your creepy friends list and you’ve got your determination to do better. Now how do you put this into practice?
That’s right! All the spontaneity of your youth is well and truly dead, so you might as well embrace it and start planning out things like light, friendly conversation. The way to do this is think ahead to when you’ll be driving, since for me, it’s impossible to have a phone conversation when I’m at home.
Instead I call people in the car. It works, since I’m effectively trapped. I can’t look around my wreck of a living room in despair and be distracted by all the shit I haven’t done; instead, I’m stuck in the car, happy to be talking to you since the alternative is the Sofia the First soundtrack again.
I plan these calls out by weeks. I try to call everyone at least once a month, though once every two weeks is more ideal. They don’t have to be long conversations – just enough to get the usual ‘hey, how are you, how’s work, what weird sex stuff have you done lately’ updates.
4. Apologize When You Need To (& Mean It)
Even with your handy-dandy schedule and the very best intentions, you are absolutely going to forget to call someone back. Maybe it’ll be worse – maybe you’ll straight up forget a lunch date, or god forbid someone’s birthday. In these instances, do the proper thing: nut up and say sorry. Don’t launch into a litany of excuses; your childless friends don’t want to hear about how little Brylynn-Rose pooped all the way up the back of her onesie again, or how you ran out of wipes so you had to do some shameful MacGyvering with handsoap and your own hair.
Just say sorry. You might be pissed since you’re trying your freaking best here and can’t everyone cut you some slack??? But you can’t be pissed at your friend, since they’re the wronged party and also not the one who knocked you up. Unless they are, in which case… Why the hell were you using your own hair.
5. Cheat When Necessary
This one is only for when your friend is texting you thoughtful ‘checking up on you’ texts at 10 PM but you are incapable of forming human speech because you’ve been up since 3 AM. It’s okay – you don’t have to relearn the English language. Instead, go into your camera roll and select the best recent photo of your dog/cat and send it on over. Maybe tack on a slew of emojis if you’re feeling wild; really make it cute. Don’t have a dog or cat? Go fucking get one, you reprobate, I can’t do all the heavy lifting here.