Hello again, Mamas! Welcome to the October edition of the Blog. This month, we’re looking a little more deeply into the proverbial “mom’s night out,” an occasional gathering of mom-friends who meet for a collective break from the work of mothering (and other obligations.) Traditionally, MNOs involve dinner, drinks and conversation. Let me preface this by sharing that I love a good MNO as much as the next mom, but once in a while, it may be worth challenging ourselves to bump it up a bit. No, I don’t mean adding a few rounds of shots (though I don’t necessarily have an objection to that, either), I mean infusing your next MNO with a little more meaning. In a study of the power of social connection for childbearing women, researchers assert that “The health and wellbeing outcomes of mothers and of children are profoundly influenced by the conditions in which women’s daily lives are lived.”[i] Indeed.
To that end, read on to find out how you can give your next mom’s night out a valuable boost with these researched-based tips, and why doing so can benefit your experience of motherhood, overall.
Talking About the Kids? Table It: The temptation to compare notes on sleep status, eating habits and all other things baby-related, is fierce. Challenge yourself not to talk about the kids for one whole evening. Make a pact with your mom-friends. Put a quick “kabash” on any incidental baby-talk. This exercise will help remind you that there is a huge world beyond the walls of the nursery. And that’s important, because being mindful of life outside of your immediate reality can help you maintain perspective, especially in those moments that feel hard. In addition, if you spend all of your away-time focused on what’s happening at home, chances are it won’t feel like much of a restorative escape, which is kinda the point, right? When you are working out the details of your next get together, ask everyone to come prepared with three conversation-starters. This might be something fairly common like: “Where in the world would you most like to travel and why?” or something more profound such as “If you could learn the answer to one question about your future, what would the question be?” or something sublime like, “What is your super-power (meaning, what are you really good at?)” At a loss for what to ask? Check out this inspiring list of 250 conversation-starters to get you talking!
Ditch Dinner for Something Different: Mamas, time to get more creative when it comes to your get-togethers. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a meal together, but opening up your repertoire once in a while can enhance your experience, and perhaps create more meaningful connections with other mothers. Doing something novel can help you bond more deeply with those around you, according to psychologist Dr. Arthur Aron, who runs the Interpersonal Relationships Lab at Stony Brook University and is a pioneer in the field of intimacy.[ii]
Here are 7 ideas to spark your imagination for your next MNO:
· Go bowling! (Bonus: Ugly shoe contest.)
· Take in a museum. (Many of them offer free or low-cost admission days or nights.)
· Lace-up your sneakers and go for a hike.
· Sign up for a one-time (or more) cooking class together.
· Check out a book event/reading/signing at your local bookstore.
· Swap your skinnies! Raid your closet and plan a clothing swap with your friends. Bring along any accessories you’re not sporting anymore and trade them in for something “new.”
· Hit your local arcade for skeeball, pinball and old school Pac Man.
Next Moms’ Night, Go Solo: Some people recharge by being in good company. Other people do so by being alone. Many of us need both socialization and quality alone-time, depending on how we feel at a given moment. I never felt more desirous of a quiet moment than after my son was born. Consider making your next MNO a solo voyage. Invest as much time (and money) on yourself, as you would if you were out with other friends. In being the sole attendee of this mom’s night out, you not only have the freedom to do whatever you want (how often does that happen these days?!) but can reserve the emotional energy you would otherwise share with others, exclusively for yourself. During the days of early motherhood, these energy stores are quickly depleted, which makes this an optimal time to conserve, preserve and restore these levels when you can.
Planning your next MNO? We’d love to hear about it! Tell us what’s on your agenda at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[i] Rhonda Small, Angela J. Taft and Stephanie J Brown, “The Power of Social Connection and Support in Improving Health: Lessons From Social Support Interventions with Childbearing Women, “BMC Public Health 11, no. (Suppl 5):S4 (November, 2011)
[ii] Arthur Aron, Edward Melina, Elaine N. Aron, Robert Darrin Vallone, and Renee J. Bator, “The Experimental Generation of Interpersonal Closeness: A Procedure and Some Preliminary Findings,” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 23, no. 4 (April, 1997): 363-77.