A lot will change when you decide to have kids, including the way you navigate your nightlife.
Gone are the days of crashing parties and last-minute plans. Now you have to plan ahead—sometimes weeks in advance—to find a babysitter, plan meals and activities, set a curfew for your kids (and for yourself), and make you sure you stay sober enough to take care of the tiny humans left in your care when you return.
If you happen to be the first of your friends to have kids, that can complicate things. Your childless friends might not realize the time and effort you put into going out or that you don’t necessarily want to do the same things you enjoyed just a few years ago. Instead of going out to a bar, you might find you would much rather go out to a nice dinner and see the new Deadpool movie.
So how do you go about reinventing your nightlife without sacrificing fun and time spent hanging out with your friends?
Make friends with other families
Making friends with other families doesn’t mean abandoning your old friends because they’re not at the same point in their lives as you are. However, the people who will know best what you are going through and the demands of parenting are other parents.
Having more friends with children also makes it easier to find family-friendly activities on the weekends. If going out dancing is not everyone’s priority, it can make it easier to find fun things to do. You might even be able to convince a few friends to babysit for you in exchange for your babysitting their kids the next time they want to go out.
Do fun stuff with your friends at home
Even easier than trying to coordinate babysitters or family-friendly nights out is hosting a night in with your friends. This can be a much cheaper alternative to hitting the town, food and drinks will be cheaper, and in many cases you won’t even need to find a babysitter.
You can still drink, play board games or cards, watch movies or coordinate other fun activities without everyone needing to be 21. If you have friends with children, they can bring their kids along as well, so both children and adults can hang out and have a good time.
Ask other friends and family members for help
As mentioned above, friends with children can be a very valuable resource when you are looking for someone to watch your kids, especially if you’re willing to watch theirs in return. But don’t be afraid to ask other family members if they can help out. A lot of people, especially grandparents, will jump at any opportunity to spend one-on-one time with their younger relatives.
Asking people you know, instead of using a babysitting service, can also save you money in the long run. You might even be able to make trades or do favors in exchange for the night off.
Don’t feel guilty about wanting to go out
But perhaps most importantly, don’t feel bad about wanting to go out and have a good time without your kids. Raising children is a lot of work and you deserve to have a good time and take off the parenting cap every once in a while.
Just because you have kids doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to go out and hang out with your friends. If you’re feeling stressed or burnt out, a night out on the town can do you a lot of good.
For students at Pprtland State, make sure to visit the Resource Center for Students with Children (http://www.pdx.edu/students-with-children/) for answers to frequently asked questions and other important resources for parents. The RCSC is located in Smith Memorial Student Union 462 and is open from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.