Recently I saw the movie Friends with Kids and I’m convinced the writer based the script on my group of friends. In my social circle, I am one of the only people that has not yet procreated. This puts me in a unique position: I can stay out later than 8pm and, as such, I get to see every family’s parenting routine. From bedtime resistance to wrangling picky eaters, from temper-tantrum management to navigating how to use discipline (or not!), I have seen it all. Nothing changes your world quite like having kids…or when your friends start having them. Here are five ways to keep the vibe alive with you and your friends with kids.
1. Love their kids
Obvious? Sure. Easy? Mmmm… depends. Necessary? Definitely. These kids are part of your “family” now and are certainly the single-most important thing in your friends’ lives. If you can’t be interested in their little people, you will quickly be finding new friends.
2. Be understanding
Accept that your besties will be distracted and tired almost always (for the next 18 years, anyhow). However, having kids automatically endows parents with superhuman abilities (that help to balance out the fatigue):
a) see 360 degrees around them
b) hear the faintest cry, whine, fart and potential trouble-making stunt
c) intercept disasters from happening with feline-like reflexes
Not included in these new superpowers, alas, is the ability to maintain a full, deep, unbroken conversation, watch a movie in its entirety or sit still for longer than five minutes at a time. This doesn’t mean your mates value your friendship any less; it just highlights the enormous shift in priorities that occurs when children enter the picture. This is where your patience is a virtue.
3. Babysitters Club
Let your friends know you are happy to watch their kids, in order to give them some much-needed time alone together (probably the most precious favour you can ever offer friends with kids). Try to organize a date for when you can all have dinner sans baby, too.
4. Visit after-hours
If you’re feeling all Zen after yoga and the thought of being around a screaming/running/jumping/dancing/crying/whining/demanding ball of energy is just a liiiiiittle too much, try a post-bedtime visit. Popping over for dessert or a glass of wine is often key for managing some quality time and having an uninterrupted catch up. These trysts are good for both you and your friend, who will be grateful for a chance to hang out minus the pressure to parent and entertain at the same time.
5. Enough with the squeamishness
Babies and children come with a slew of bodily functions to which you will be exposed, whether you like it or not. Suddenly, there will be a steady stream of talk about poo, pee, snot and spit up, as well as the perfectly timed need for the child to ‘go potty’ as soon as you sit down to dinner (which will sometimes be executed successfully, other times not). If you’re a really good friend, chances are you may even be vomited, peed or snotted on. You can’t do anything about this one; you’ve just got to be OK with seeing it all.
Friendships take work — all friendships — and while you will undoubtedly have to make many changes once your friends have kids, the responsibility isn’t all on you. Your parent friends have to pull their weight, too. Luckily, most of my friends with kids understand that I can’t always relate to their parenting issues and they continue to show a keen interest in my childless world, no matter how many times we are interrupted.
Louise Griew is a Toronto-born makeup artist whose second home is Melbourne, Australia. Her work can be seen in national and international advertising campaigns, magazines, music videos and on TV.