by Christa Melnyk Hines
Although we’re rarely alone, motherhood can sometimes feel a little lonely. Spending time with a few understanding friends to vent, laugh and reenergize in a kid-free zone is healthy and a great way to shake off the blues.
“We tend to be able to schedule nap time for toddlers, bath time for babies to help them relax and even make it easy for our partners to hit the basketball court with buddies. But when it comes to us, we forget that we need the same recharging,” says Maria Bailey, host of Mom Talk Radio, author, talk show host and founder of National Mom‘s Nite out.
Whether you have a gaggle of friends or just a few you’d like to know better, here are 13 ideas to fire up some fun.
Tap your inner Matisse. Studies suggest that artistic engagement can reduce stress and anxiety. Many art studios offer instructor-led, one-time classes created specifically for ladies’ nights out. Feel a pleasant drop in your blood pressure while painting and sipping wine in the company of friends. No clean-up required!
Puzzle it out. If your group loves mystery games, plan a gathering at a mystery “escape room.” In this latest entertainment trend, two or more people are locked in a room and must find and follow clues to find a way to break out of it within a set amount of time.
Pamper and primp. Schedule manicures and pedicures for you and your friends. Or check out a blow out bar, where you and your friends can sip refreshments while each getting a signature blow dry and style or makeup touch-up.Depending on the size of your group, some spas will book an event just for your party.
Swirl, sniff and sip. Head to an area winery for a relaxing wine tasting or host your own. Choose a group of wines from a specific region, ranging from dry to sweet and hide the names behind a large bow or decorative material. Place a placard with a number in front of each bottle. Give each guest a glass with her own wine charm. Provide scoring sheets for each wine they taste. Serve light appetizers including cheese and crackers, chocolates and palette-cleansing fruits.
Coordinate a book swap. Invite your friends to bring gently used books, cookbooks and magazines they no longer want. Guests can choose as many books to take as they brought to give away. Stephanie Perry, ReadersLane.com, suggests providing post-it notes so your friends can share their thoughts about a particular book. “As they peruse, guests can write in their own responses, and some interesting ‘conversations’ can result,” Perry says.
Get pinning. Host a party in which your guests bring snacks and beverages that they find on Pinterest. When Jen Conrad, a mom of three, hosted a Pinterest Party, she and her friends made a scented sugar scrub together that they found on the site. “Everything we ate, drank and did was a Pinterest idea,” she says.
Host a “My Favorite Things” party. What’s one kitchen gadget, make-up or cleaning product that you can’t live without? Hide your item in a gift bag and exchange with friends. Once everyone has opened her bag, each participant explains why she loves the product she brought to give away. “We all took notes so we could run out and try the fun stuff,” says Amber Shepard, a mom of two. Provide each guest with a complimentary notepad and pen to keep track of ideas or clever tips.
Stock the freezer. As if the school year isn’t hectic enough, the holidays are right around the corner. Make meal time easier by planning aheadwith a frozen meal exchange. Each friend should arrive with enough four-person servings for the number of attendees. If five of you participate, each should arrive with five meals. For a simpler exchange, agree on a budget in advance and choose guests who have similar dietary requirements. Casseroles, lasagnas, marinated meats and soups/stews work well.
Plan a cover dish party. “I love this idea because it allows you to have meaningful conversation with other moms and deepen those relationships,” Bailey says. Keep the event simple for your friends by requesting that each dish include five ingredients or less.
Explore local cuisine. Gather your foodie friends around the table and sample area eateries while enjoying great conversation. Take turns choosing one restaurant per month. To build continuity, make the event a standing occasion on the same night each month.
Catch the latest flicks. Head to the theater to watch a movie with your friends. After the film, review together over dinner or dessert. Budget tight? Take turns hosting movie-watching parties at your homes.
Form a culture club. Experience the fine arts with other friends who share a similar zest for integrating more local culture into their lives. Attend different events every four to six weeks, like jazz concerts, live theater, the symphony, or the museum’s latest art exhibit.
Be spontaneous. Light the fire pit or gather around your fireplace and invite a few friends over for a last minute glass of wine, cocktails or mocktails. By simply creating time for you and your friends to chat, you’ll deepen your friendships and nurture your spirit, too.
Freelance journalist, Christa Melnyk Hines, looks forward to a mom‘s night out at least once every six weeks. She is the author of Confidently Connected: A Mom‘s Guide to a Satisfying Social Life.