Everyone’s social life changes as they get older, but now you’re a mum it might feel that the only way you could ever prove that you once went for wild nights out is a very old album on someone else’s Facebook page. It’s completely understandable that you don’t want to socialise until the early hours every weekend. Even if you had the energy, hangovers and little ones just don’t mix.
But there is a balance between crazy partying and cosy nights in. And if you’re not even managing an evening coffee with your mates, you’re missing out on more than you think. “When you spend a lot of time caring for other people, you give out a lot of energy and as women we forget that we need to take a break,” says life coach Allie Stewart from Life Changing. “There’s a really big pressure on mums at the moment, and there seems to be a lot of competition. Women think that by going out they’re not being a good mum.”
But actually, not going out can make you tetchy and unhappy – not a good combination, says relationship expert Sharon Kell. “To be a good mum you need to be happy and have balance in your life. When you’re away from your child for a bit, you appreciate times when you’re with him or her even more,” she says.
Try and meet regularly
So nights out are practically obligatory to make you a top mum? Fab! But we can already hear your next comment: It’s too hard organising everyone. It’s a familiar scenario for Melissa Havers, 36, from London. Now mum to Isabella, 4, and Toby, 19 months, girly nights out are a holy grail. “Lots of my friends have children, and then we all have work commitments too,” she explains. “We do try and meet up regularly and when we do we always say ‘Why don’t we do this more often?’ because it’s so nice to catch up and see the girls. When you have a big group of friends it’s inevitable someone will have to cancel either because of illness, childcare or something coming up at work. People have to book up far in advance, too, so you can’t just say ‘Can you come out on Friday night?’ like you used to when you weren’t a mum.”
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Make plans today
The most important thing to remember, though, is that a night out isn’t just about cramming in everything from drinking and eating to dancing or the theatre. The focus should be on seeing your friends, having some time for you not just your family. Sounds selfish? That’s because you’re a mum and not used to doing things just for you, says Allie Stewart. “All leaders need time out, and as a mum you’re the leader of a family. To revitalise things you need a change of environment. When you think about what that is for you, most women will say it’s about seeing their girlfriends.”
The bottom line is, seeing your friends is important, wherever you go and whatever you talk about. Most mums want to go out in theory, but are simply too tired and with too much to organise they just don’t feel like taking on one more project. So it’s simply a case of someone taking the initiative and making plans. The first thing to do is find out who’s really up for meeting. That way, you’re not constantly asking people who aren’t that motivated. Then find out what’s important to them socially so you can plan the right kind of night they’ll want to commit to.
“It’s about women taking on board their own need for this kind of nourishment and how important it is to come to an arrangement,” says Allie Stewart. See it as a serious commitment, almost a paid-for appointment when you’ve said yes to a friend. And if there’s three of you and one drops out, make sure the remaining two still meet up.” Keeping up the arrangement makes it easier to do next time because you’ve had the benefit of seeing at least a few friends.
Just go for it!
For Alex Champagne, 35, mum of Jacques, 1½, arranging a girly catch-up is about forward planning. “There’s nine of us in our group and it’s complicated to organise nights out. We try to meet once a month and usually keep it to a local venue. One of us will send a group email asking on which Fridays and Saturdays people are free over the next couple of months, and this is logged in a spreadsheet. We then choose the date that the most people can do. It does mean that not all of us attend each monthly girls’ night, but most of us get to have a good girly natter over a couple of glasses of wine.”
We’re hoping by now you feel a bit envious and want to see what your mates are up to. You won’t regret it, says Melissa Havers. “The days of tequila shots and missing the last train are over, but now the children are older I do go out with the girls more, and you really feel like you’ve achieved something when you do. We’ve made little changes as a group. I usually meet friends on a weeknight rather than a weekend, for a few glasses of wine or dinner, not a full-on night of clubbing. We accept some people won’t be around and just meet as smaller groups. It’s about quality not quantity.”
5 steps to girly night planning perfection
1. Vouchers are an easy way to have a night out without breaking the bank. Try www.vouchercodes.co.uk.
2. Networking can bring things together. Is everyone on Facebook? Start a group for your nights out, so people can post their suggestions.
3. Flexibility can help busy mums. What with the early-evening feeding/bathtime rush, the thought of being anywhere at a certain time can be stressful. Pick a café-style venue, where you can just rock up and eat, or not eat, and it doesn’t matter if someone’s late.
4. Sharing the organising can help. Find a friend you know is keen too, and arrange things together.
5. Activities can bring out the best in everyone. If people don’t want to drink or eat, why not think of a team activity like ten-pin bowling, which can energise tired mums and provide a bit of a laugh.