It’s hardly a state secret that once you start a family, your social life tends to take a dive. In fact, according to Parents Magazine, over 45% of new families report losing a “significant” number of friends following the birth of their first child. One needn’t speculate too hard over the reasons for this; namely, you simply do not have anywhere near the same amount of time to maintain an active social life once the kids are born. Those late nights out at the bar or long rounds are gold are very quickly replaced with PTA meetings, spelling bees, Little League games and of course, bedtime stories.
This is by no means a negative thing, as any dad worth their salt will acknowledge that time spent with their children will always feel more enriching and purposeful than another night spent eating wings and playing Xbox games with the boys. However, it’s fine to admit that we all have moments where we not only miss the friends that we don’t get to see as often, but also miss the bonding and carefree feelings of hanging out with our buddies. Although family is important, friends are too, and working at maintaining a social life beyond the family home is a crucial part of mental health and wellbeing, as well as a way to de-stress after those long and sometimes trying days of being the Best Dad in the World. With that in mind, here are some helpful ways to stay social as a dad.
Although these moments can be fleetingly rare, some days do come along where you find yourself free for the day to catch up with your buddies. However, you should always plan plenty of time in advance in order to ensure that your crucial guy time isn’t impeded by an unexpected emergency involving the family. Hit up that Whatsapp group chat and see if any of the gang are free to hang out in say, a couple of weeks, but don’t try and plan it too far ahead, as most people don’t like committing to something that’s light years down the line. Once you’ve set a date for that much-needed catch-up, try and organise a chilled-out and fun activity that everyone will enjoy. Maybe arrange a fishing trip, or something as low maintenance as a hike, where you can step out into peaceful surroundings whilst having some much-needed social time.
If exercise isn’t your thing, something as simple as inviting your friends around for lunch, or maybe going bowling or shooting some pool (neither of these things count as exercise, let’s be real) is an agreeable and chilled-out way to let off some steam. At the end of the day, these are your friends, so as long as they’ll willing and able to make the time for you, you don’t really need to overthink the activity so much. Just see who’s game to sit around in your living room to talk and watch some TV, and you’re likely to find this chilled social experience just as invigorating as a hike up the nearest mountain.
As much as we might not be willing to admit, we all have those moments where we miss engaging in the occasional bit of bad behaviour. As a father, a night out with the boys is something that most of us rarely, if ever, get to experience. Not that you need to try and arrange a Hangover-style bender to end all benders, which ends in a 5am keg stand and the mother of all headaches the next day, but heading out for the night and letting loose is something no man should ever deprive themselves of. There are plenty of mature evening activities you can do as group, like heading to the casino to play some blackjack and live your best James Bond fantasy, suited and booted. Spend some time and effort beforehand picking out an appropriate tux, and practice your spin-game with some free spins from Oddschecker. Putting a little work into your night out beforehand is guaranteed to make those rare evenings all the more memorable and special.
Similarly, rather than simply agreeing to meet up at the local bar to converse over a few bottles of lukewarm beer, put a little effort in a arrange something more impressive, like a rooftop glass of whisky in a high-flying bar, or even a night out at a trendy nightclub, if you’re still feeling up for it.
Merging Family and Friends
One of the main reasons friends tend to drift apart once the kids come along is that people all too often see family and friendship as too mutually exclusive circles that don’t belong in the same room together. Don’t fall into this trap, and keep your mind open to inviting your buddies along to family-oriented events too, regardless of whether they themselves have their own offspring. Whether it’s your kid’s play recital or something a little more exciting like a family barbecue or even a camping trip, take the time to let your friends feel included in these moments. It’s a great way to kill two birds with one stone, and at the end of the day, your real friends are also your family, who’ve undoubtedly helped you through thick and thin, so it’s only right that they be an active participant in this latest exciting chapter of your life.
If you have any tips on socialising as a dad, let everyone know in the comments!