Summer's about to end and that means the schedule is filling up. Kids' activities, church stuff, work. Soon, our perfectly open calendar isn't so open anymore. School starts, and suddenly every evening is booked. Weekends are spent with virtual strangers sitting on the side of the soccer field, and suddenly, we hear on Facebook our best friend is going through something significant. We stop and think, "How did that happen?" Here's how. We failed to prioritize relationships over our toddler's very important dance career.
If you feel like I'm singling you out, I'm pointing at myself too. If you can relate, don't be ashamed, but also don't be surprised when doesn't get better if you don't stop now and make a date with a good friend. Right now. You can come back to this later. It's not a priority. I'll wait.
This is a wonderful time of year. It's full of new beginnings, cooler weather, and soon, the holidays. But those times aren't wonderful if we're lonely. You may be thinking, "Lonely? I don't remember the last time I felt lonely. I can't even go to the bathroom by myself." But here's a secret, being surrounded by people all the time isn't the same as meaningful connections with a good friend. And another secret...your spouse can't be your only friend. He can't fill the roles of other friends in your life, so don't put that kind of pressure on him.
A quick note on friends. A good friend makes you better. She encourages you and tells you the truth. Time with her gives you energy and clears your head. There are other types of friends. Those who gossip too much. Those who want you to help justify their bad decisions. Those who love to rag on their husbands. These friends are like eating a bunch of donuts. They taste good in the moment, but you leave feeling like you might get sick. Be good to these friends. Encourage them. Try to be an example for them. Do not kill yourself making time for them in your already busy schedule. These are not the friends who make you better. Find the good ones and schedule time with them.
You may be thinking, "Shannon, you're a stay-at-home mom. You have no idea how busy I am." I probably don't, but here are a few ideas for how to make room.
1. Go for coffee after you drop your kids off. If you and your friend drop off at preschool, or a sport, or dance, choose a day a week or once a month to use that time to get together. Yes, that's a great time to grocery shop, but time with a good friend is a better use of that time.
2. If you get an invite on Facebook that interests you, bring a friend. You probably have a handful of Facebook invites each week. If you'd like to go to a Pampered Chef party, use it as an opportunity to see a friend. How about a paint party? That's a great time for some good conversation.
3. If you both stay home, have a playdate. Your kids won't mind having someone to pay with and you get a play date too. Those of us with little kids have an awesome opportunity to choose their friends. Let's not underestimate that power.
4. If you both work, meet somewhere during your lunch hour. Isn't that better than eating your lunch at your desk answering emails?
5. Ask her to join you in bible study, book club, or craft club. Really anything you do for time away could be time with a good friend. I used to be in a craft club with my good friend. I enjoyed making the crafts, but what I looked forward to most was a monthly dinner/craft date with Jennifer.
Texting, Facebook, and Instagram aren't the same things as spending time with friends. Just knowing what's going on in her life via social media isn't a relationship. If so, random strangers she graduated high school with are in that relationship too.
I'm not trying to put something else on your plate. But I am asking you to think about your priorities as you fill that plate. You won't regret making time with friends -especially the really good ones.