Being a mom is hard work. Really hard work!! I love my children, but that doesn’t make it easy. As moms our help and support is in constant demand … but you can’t give from an empty cup.
(Unless the cup is filled with wine … I kid, I kid!)
I’ve learned from experience that there’s always another meal to get on the table, or homework project to help with, or laundry to cycle. At a certain point I decided to stop waiting for someone to notice I needed a break and just start taking it. I’m happy to report that everyone is better off since I started taking a regular Mom’s Night Out.
And, no, I don’t mean a trip to the grocery store!!
Getting Out Is Hard to Do
All work and no play isn’t only not any fun, it’s also unhealthy.
I’m not saying I don’t have a good time with my family, but I did have a life before marriage and kids with hobbies, pursuits, and dreams. And I see no reason why a mom should ever have to give those things up.
I learned (although it took me a while) that stepping away to recharge and do something Katie wants to do is necessary. (No, I don’t usually refer to myself in the third person but it’s nice to remember I do have a name other than “Mom”!)
How Much Do Moms Really Work?
According to one news source, a survey conducted by Welch’s in 2017 found out some not-so-surprising news: moms work a long day. They surveyed 2,000 American mothers with kids ranging in age between 5 and 12 years old.
What they found is that the average mom:
- starts the day at 6:23 a.m. and clocks out at 8:31 p.m.
- works 14 hours a day and 100 hours per week
- puts in the equivalent to two and a half full-time job
Think about it … there are only 168 hours in a week. That leaves just 9.7 hours a day for sleep, meals, personal care, and mental breaks. Not healthy at all!
I love my family and my job(s) and I wouldn’t trade this life for the world. Still, it is validating to hear moms given credit for working a job that is pretty much around the clock, whether or not the middle part of the day is spent working inside or outside the home.
Five Reasons to Have a Moms’ Night Out
I’m a big fan staying in to relax in some comfy yoga pants with a glass of wine and suggest having a regular night for self-care at home. My favorite self-care combos are a relaxing detox bath with a glass of my favorite wine or maybe some time in the sauna.
That being said, leaving the house is like leaving my to-do list behind and besides there’s another health benefit to getting out … a little something called friendship!
If you haven’t had a girls’ night out in a while, here’s 5 reasons to put it at the top of the to-do list. You may not be surprised to see that they all have something to do with health…
Benefit #1: Friendship
Women crave time together. This seems like an obvious fact, but studies show social time is more than fun for women — it’s a coping mechanism. Women are much more social than men in the way they cope with stress.
One landmark study from 2002 found that friendships among women actually boost the levels of oxytocin in the body (the same bonding hormone that spikes after childbirth and during breastfeeding). Lead researcher Shelley Taylor calls oxytocin a “social thermostat” for women.
Oxytocin has numerous benefits including relieving pain, lowering blood pressure and heart rate, increasing optimism, and improving digestion. It also soothes the primordial fight-or-flight response that leads to stress.
On top of that, nurturing close friendships has been shown to reduce the risk of mortality. In fact, strong friendships and social relationships reduced all cause mortality by 50% in a given time period. To put that in perspective, having friends and community reduces the odds of dying more than stopping smoking and twice as much as physical activity!
So leave the guilt at home and make some time for friends and building community!
Benefit #2: Mentoring
All moms need guidance and advice as they move through the stages of motherhood. Like any job, there is a learning curve and being able to learn from someone else makes it easier.
Throughout civilizations all over the globe, women pass a special knowledge and wisdom from one generation to another. This is the real concept behind the phrase, “it takes a village.” And sad to say, our village seems to be dwindling in modern society.
Today many women start families states or even countries away from their own “tribe” — mother, sisters, friends. Technology does something to bridge the gap but in many ways for the modern mom her tribe is of her own making.
As a doula I’ve seen firsthand what a difference feeling supported makes for moms. We need women who have it done it before us to show us the ropes and reassure us. With around 20% of new moms suffering from depression or anxiety postpartum, it’s time to get serious about surrounding moms with strong communities.
Benefit #3: Emotional Bank Account
If the bank account is empty, it’s impossible to meet financial needs. The same is true for emotional health. Stephen Covey, author of Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, coined the phrase “emotional bank account” and it’s a term that definitely makes sense when applied to moms.
Raising children is a joy but like most worthwhile things it requires great physical and emotional strength. Spending time away from all the demands helps us refill our reserve, especially if we choose an activity we find rewarding (or even try something new!).
Benefit #4: Personal Space
Sometimes “Moms’ Night Out” (plural) needs to be “Mom’s Night Out” (singular). Personal space hardly exists with a house full of kids, especially young ones. If the only personal space you get is in the bathroom, it’s time to start a new tradition.
One of my favorite books on mom life suggests setting aside a regular day once or twice a month (or even weekly) for Mom’s Day Out. This is a day to do whatever you need or want to do. Put it on the schedule just like you would a Little League game or a doctor’s appointment, and ask your spouse or a friend to keep you accountable!
Once taking a day off becomes a habit, you’ll wonder how you ever did without it.
Benefit #5: Remembering Who We Are
I always wanted to be a mom and it’s the best gift in the world. BUT, there is more to Katie than just being a mom.
Sometimes, it is hard to remember who we are apart from being a mom. What do we like? What are our dreams? Moms often get lost in the noise and busyness of raising families and working hard.
Stepping back, taking a deep breath, and being yourself instead of mom (or MOMMMM) is important.
How to Start a Girls’ Night (& Keep It Going)
If you don’t already a circle of friends, you’re not alone. It took many years for me to find the right friendships (you know who you are) and even now I can’t exactly say I’ve found “my tribe.” Life with littles makes it hard, but remember … they won’t be little forever. It can be done!
Here are some quick tips to set the wheels in motion:
- Keep it simple. Make it as easy as possible for everyone to join in. Nothing has to be extravagant or elaborate.
- Set a regular schedule. The second Tuesday at 8 p.m. or every Sunday at 3 p.m. Keeping a regular schedule makes planning much easier.
- Find a convenient meet-up location (preferably not another mom’s home, but if you all have babies and that is what works, go for it).
- Consider inviting moms from diverse backgrounds and even age groups (back to that mentor bit!).
- Great conversation and good food go hand in hand. Food can be simple or decadent … some sliced veggies and fruit can do the trick, with some dark chocolate and bottle of wine on the side!
- Pick a convenient time. Not every “Moms’ Night Out” can happen at night. Perhaps Sunday afternoon works better or Thursday morning. Go with what is most convenient and accessible to the most moms. The goal is time away, no matter when it happens.
- Provide childcare options, if possible. Often the biggest obstacle to moms taking care of themselves is that they have no one to take care of their children. Provided childcare will open the door for many more moms to participate. This is not a requirement, but definitely a nice perk if you can swing it.
- Gather input from invited moms. Send out a text or email to gauge interest and find a set-up that works best for everyone. Asking other moms what they need and want is the first step in making this a success.
- Check your guilt at the door. There may still be 5 or even 15 items on today’s to-do list. Perhaps the preschooler begs you to stay home or your spouse has been working long hours and is finally home to stay with the kids. There are so many little things that can fuel that mom guilt — don’t go there!
- Enjoy! Whatever you do for a night out, relax and appreciate the time with others. It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beneficial.
Ideas for a Moms’ Night Out
Going out to dinner is of course the normal scene, but it isn’t always my first choice. Here are some other ideas we’ve tried over the years, and some we want to!
- Try a new ethnic food you haven’t had
- Meet up at a bike trail and rent/ride bikes
- Try a wine and paint night — or buy canvas and paints and just have fun in someone’s home
- Attend a concert (many of these are low-cost … check colleges and universities in your area)
- Drive to a new town and visit antique and consignment shops
- Volunteer at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter together
- Play cards or board games
- Set up a regular wine at 9 night and rotate houses
- Find an indoor rock wall and get the adrenaline pumping!
- Go in on an escape room experience (this is a blast)
- Go to the beach or pool (if you have one)
- Have coffee together in a bookstore
- Go iceskating, skiing, or break out the rollerblades
- Send kids and husbands to one house, and the ladies take over the other!
- Have an at-home “spa” night with friends
- Dress up and go dancing!
- Have a bonfire or go camping
- Split a hotel room … use the pool, sit in the hot tub, and enjoy the peace and quiet!
- Find a skill you want to learn on Udemy and ask others to join in
- Start a book club
Really Can’t Get Out?
I can think of several times when it just wasn’t possible to get away. It is possible to invite community in without taking a dedicated (and sometimes expensive) night out. Get the same benefits of friendship and community in smaller doses by:
- Inviting a friend to breakfast on the weekend or after church
- Prepping freezer meals together for a busy workweek or to help a friend expecting a baby
- Organizing a regular night for moms to push strollers around the neighborhood while older kids say home with dad
- Starting a support group with shared interests like healthy cooking or decluttering
- Organizing a virtual prayer group, book club, or conversation over wine. I know some people who even play card games this way! (Plus you don’t have to clean the house!)
The catch to staying in: you may have to let go of perfection and invite someone into your real-life life/house/mess. Chances are you’ll be glad you did.
Your turn! Do you participate in a Moms’ Night Out? I’d love some ideas!