Wednesday, April 17, 2013

How to Get Your Friends with Kids to Hang Out With You

Posted By on Wed, Apr 17, 2013 at 5:00 AM

Exhausted parents sleeping
I don't have any kids, but more and more my friends are starting to, and more and more I see those people less—they never show up to my band's gig at midnight on a Wednesday! What gives? What do I have to do to see you people again? So I reached out to a bunch of parents to ask for their dos and don'ts. "Sometimes I feel like people assume we can't do anything at all, so we get invited out less," my friend JJ, a new father, tells me. But he wants to hang out. "Parents do want to go out," Brooklyn Magazine editor and mom Kristin Iversen says. "It's hard, though, because of scheduling. So, as a childless person, just be understanding of that." Otherwise you'll end up not being friends anymore. "I'm assuming you're talking about couples who have very young children," Allison Robicelli told me, "as at this point my friends have learned to just completely write Matt and I off." [photo]

Kids at Brunch
DON'T: Invite Them to Brunch
Allison Robicelli: "NEVER INVITE ME OUT TO BRUNCH. You ask me to go to brunch, you've essentially bought yourself an hour watching me wrangle my two children in a restaurant and being completely exhausted being that getting them to said restaurant probably took several hours of prep.

"Also take into account that for all we talk about how babies are taking over our bars and restaurants, there are very few restaurants in Brooklyn that are truly kid-friendly, meaning they have a play area or toys or something that will properly distract the children for at least an hour so I can have some goddamn eggs in peace. So if you think we're going to casually meet at one of those places at 10am and just stroll right in, you're out of your mind. We're going to be looking at total bedlam with a long wait as we fight every other delusional couple with kids in Brooklyn, meaning I'll be ignoring you entirely while attending to my fussing child. No no no no no no. (Note: my kids are now 4 1/2 and 6, which is a far more manageable age to do this.)" [photo]

Child at a restaurant
DO: Invite Them to Dinner on a Weekday
Allison Robicelli: "If we must do a restaurant, make it Monday-Wednesday at about 5 or 6pm. And make it close to my house, because you have no idea how hard travelling has gotten for me. On Monday to Wednesday, restaurants will be slow enough that I won't feel like a giant imposition with a young child, and starting early gives me plenty of time to get out and back home to put them to bed. Just understand that I will be ignoring you 70 percent of the time, and this will upset me more than it upsets you, so please volunteer to hold and play with the baby as much as possible so I can have five minutes to myself. I desperately want to talk to a grown-up, but I may be too exhausted to. It's not you, it's me." [photo]

DO: Go to Them—And Bring Food
Allison Robicelli: "Even better, figure out a day when you can come over and bring takeout with you. We can put the baby to bed and watch a movie or just hang out and talk. This is your best possible bet to hang out with me, because you honestly don't know how much work it took to get myself and two kids who were under the age of two ready, packed and out the door to anywhere. I'm comfortable on my own turf, and it's the only place for the first two years of parenthood that's not a high-stress environment. If you actually want to hang out with me, that's where to go—just be prepared for me to pass out in the middle of the movie." [photo]

Children at a picnic
DO: Plan Something Kid-Friendly
Allison Robicelli: "If you don't want to come over or I don't want to clean (let's be honest—I'm not fucking doing it), ask to have a date with me at the zoo/playground/children's museum/park. Pack a picnic. Help me with the kids. I'll love you to death for this." [photo]

DO: Be Worth Seeing
"Be cool enough that they're willing to pay for a babysitter," Kristin Iversen recommends. If you're not cool, make them feel even less so, "making them feel old and uncool so that they feel forced to hang out in order to maintain relevance."

RSVP will attend
DON'T: Ask for Spontaneity
"Hard to be spontaneous with kids," my friend JJ tells me. "Plan in advance." Allison Robicelli agrees. "If you're hoping to get your friends with young kids to come to your show/party/dinner/whatever, give them several weeks of advance notice." And even then they're probably going to say no.

Young people partying
DON'T: Take it Personally
Allison Robicelli: "It's not that [parents] hate you and love their kid more. But until you have a kid, you have no idea the magnitude of the responsibility it is. More than that, you have to realize that having a kid means that you now come second in your own life—the things that you liked to do in your non-parenting days, like seeing your friends, having hobbies, or even showering, go on the backburner to the needs of your kid for a good long while. They do come back, I swear—but for the first couple of years you are often at the mercy of the child. For me it got depressing being invited to things, because I knew I couldn't possibly attend. As much as you're bummed your friend can't come, they're more bummed that they're sitting at home—probably cleaning something—while all their friends are out having fun." [photo]

Follow Henry Stewart on Twitter @henrycstewart

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About The Author

Henry Stewart

Henry Stewart

Henry Stewart is the Culture Editor at The L Magazine and Brooklyn Magazine. He has always lived in Brooklyn.

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