It’s hard to keep on top of your social life when your most high-maintenance little friend of all is consuming your mind, body and bank balance.
Having a kid is awesome. People who say they love every minute of it are liars/loons, but, despite the four month sleep regression, hand, foot and mouth disease, leaky boobs and other delights, most mums are pretty pleased with their baby.
However… life is never the same again. Especially your social life. You’ll go around telling people you “used to be fun” while wondering what happened.
If you have friends with babies around the same age – and, if you use Mush, it’s only a matter of time – your daytime fun is sorted, at least for the first few months. In those hazy newborn days, you’ll hugely value anyone who’s around to inhale chocolate chip cookies and pace the park with.
So daytimes are all good. And evenings will be spent at home, taking it in turns to heat up food and eat dinner. But having a night-time social life will probably feel like an impossibility for quite some time. But there are things you can do to make the gulf between you and your old mates a bit less ravine-like.
When you first have a baby, everyone turns up bearing babygros and cheap fizz, but then it stops and they get on with their enriching careers and vibrant social lives while you stay in and learn the difference between Pinky Ponk and Ninky Nonk. The onus is on you to organise stuff, or they’ll assume you don’t have time for them.
The issue here is lack of compatibility. They’re at work all day, you’re not. They go out in the evening, you can’t (because the baby won’t take a bottle) or don’t want to (so you pretend the baby won’t take a bottle). Stop moaning and just go and meet them near their work for lunch – seriously, it’s SO much easier with a portable little baby who’s not in a regimented routine than it is when they’re older.
And if you really can’t be arsed, then invite people over for dinner or a weekend lunch. You don’t need to wear make-up. With some friends you don’t even need to wear clothes.
Show an interest in other people’s lives
Your pre-baby self probably whinged incessantly about how much people banged on about their tedious babies. But then it transpired that your baby was the most interesting baby to ever have been born, and you understood, right? But… your non-mum friends won’t understand. They love you and they mostly tolerate your baby but remember to ask them about that boss they hate/play they’re writing/bloke they’re shagging. Also, try and post things other than photos of your baby on Facebook. Occasionally. And even though it’s hard to be sensitive when you’re so flipping tired, tried to remember that some of your friends might not be childless by choice, so rubbing your baby in their face isn’t always ideal.
Don’t put pressure on yourself
The first couple of times you go out in the evening post-baby, you might not enjoy it at all. If the highlight of your evening is finding out that your Uber driver has a baby born THE SAME MONTH WOW WHAT A COINCIDENCE as yours, you know it’s probably too soon – you are officially still in the new baby bubble and not ready to wear a wired bra or queue up for overpriced drinks in bars full of nubile millennials. You’ll want to be at home talking about and/or staring at the world’s best baby. Or just getting some sleep.
This is OK. There is no huge rush; there will always be overpriced drinks. If you wait until you’re ready, you’ll be better company than when your boobs are crying and you’re checking your phone every three seconds. For some people, this is after nine days. For others, nine months. For some, nine years.
Don’t be flaky
You think you don’t have time to reply to that lovely email from your crazy old workmate, but you do, you’re just choosing to use your precious three minutes of downtime to do other stuff.
Social media can make us feel connected to people we don’t often see, which is great. But we also use it as an excuse to not actually BE connected with people we like (“Seen Mel recently?”, “Yes, of course! I mean, on Facebook…”).
What often happens is that messages come from friends when you’re in the middle of something (poo), so then you forget to reply promptly. And then you feel awkward about it. It’s time to take the approach you would with other crucial life admin and start making lists of people you need to get in touch with – because keeping up with people you think are awesome is just as important as remembering to buy bathroom cleaner.
Make time for the other love of your life too
It takes a while to feel confident leaving your precious firstborn in the care of another for an evening, so for months or even years you might feel like you’ve vaguely got your social life back, but actually it’s only 50% of it, because you and your partner take it in turns to go out.
This means, all of “his” friends (who you love too. Well, apart from Dave. Ugh, bloody Dave) only get to see him, because he gets custody of those invitations, while you just end up on girls nights. With other mums. Talking about your babies.
Plus, you might book a babysitter/grandmother several months in advance for a wedding or other big do, but you really miss those spontaneous trips to the pub after work with your beloved. Try and plan childcare for a couple of more low-key nights too. Or just buy a house next door to a pub and get a really good baby monitor (OBVIOUSLY THIS IS A JOKE. Nobody can afford to move house when they’ve just had a baby…).