Fitting a Social Calendar Into a Busy Life

how to have a social lifeI don’t think we’ve talked about this yet, and I’m curious what readers say. Your job is important, and a little bit of “me” time is necessary for everyone — but how do you fit a social life into your already-packed calendar? So let’s look at the options.  (Pictured:  Busy schedule ;), originally uploaded to Flickr by lewro.)

I’ll say at the outset that I’m an introvert, of which a few things flow which may be unique to introverts:

a) “me” time comes way before “social” time — typically mornings are the only time I can get any exercise, reading, or writing done, and I need that time to myself to recharge and be productive elsewhere.

b) I’m more of a one-on-one person than a “group date” person — I was always a bit jealous of Carrie’s crew in Sex in the City, but it’s just not who I am

Still, I love my friends and family, and I think it’s important to stay updated in their lives. I remember laughing at a friend in college when she described “hierarchies” of friends, but she was on to something — as I’ve gotten more and more strapped for time I’ve had to make choices about who I keep in touch with and how often I see them. (Getting married also obviously shifted priorities — my husband is the person I strive to spend the most time with.) Personally, I’d rather see 3-6 people really regularly and be in their lives rather than see 50 people only sporadically, and so those 3-6 friends are the people I make really regular dates with, and I try to keep in regular touch by phone or e-mail with at least another ten friends who live farther away.  But all of this is easier said than done — HOW do you fit your friends into your schedule?

Weekends. Weekends can be a great time, but a) it’s only 2 days out of 7, b) you may have a zillion chores and “me” time things to catch up on, and c) you may still be working for part of it. Personally, I’m a big fan of making dates for Saturday nights with friends, but I prefer to use the rest of the time for myself. I will admit that I’m a total weirdo and I hate “doing brunch” with friends — to me it just sucks up time that would better be spent reading, writing, exercising, doing chores (or, hey, sleeping in) — but for a lot of people the brunch date is a staple of a busy life.

After Work. This is the approach that works best for me. I find that I’m a total zombie when I get home from the office — and I always have been, whether I’ve gotten out of work at 6 pm or 10 pm. Reading, writing, and exercise — the primary things I do in “me” time — are next to impossible for me to accomplish in the hours after work. But I have found that I get a second wind and can really enjoy a night out with friends after work.  As a bonus, I can often multitask and do something with my friend that’s  also important to me:  making full use of my city and checking out new restaurants, bars, and the occasional cultural thing like a show or a museum.  (And, as a second bonus, the hot restaurants or bars are often far less crowded on, say, a Tuesday night than they are a Saturday night.)   To me scheduling activities three or four nights after work is fine so long as I’m home in time for a bit of husband time and my regular bedtime.  While I occasionally have to cancel for work-related reasons, my friends understand.  (It was a different issue when I was trying to date, but, well, any guy who didn’t forgive one cancellation wasn’t a guy I really needed to date anyway.)

Weekday mornings. I’m also a fan of breakfast, at least on the occasional basis. One of my best friends and I used to meet regularly at a SoHo hotspot that was between our two jobs.   On the plus side, it made me feel a bit glamorous (we were often dining with people we recognized from the news) and it was cheaper than dining there at night — but on the downside, it usually meant skipping my morning workout and/or “me” time.

Weekday lunch. Lunches never quite work out for me unless the friend and I work in such close proximity that there is no travel time involved — I always feel rushed otherwise! I also find that I have problems transitioning Work Brain and Fun Brain — either I’m so wrapped up in the problems from the office that I never fully enjoy and connect with my friend, or else I have such a great time connecting with my friend that I have problems refocusing on the workday in front of me. On the flip side, I find that weekday lunch is a great time for networking — I’m still partly focused on my career and Work Brain, and I don’t feel quite so guilty if the lunch hour stretches into ninety minutes or more.  (For the same reason, I can’t quite make use of my lunchhour for “me” time — but I am super envious of those of you who can work out at lunch!)

Other times. As for friends who don’t live in close proximity — one of my worst habits is that I am predisposed to take cabs everywhere. I try to make the best use of my time luxuriating in the back of a cab, though, and try to call friends or family to catch up, or even to just leave a voice message to try to get a date on the calendar for a phone or Skype chat.  Once I get something scheduled, I’ll often try to multitask and do something mindless while talking to my friend — either go for a walk in the neighborhood, or do some chores around the house like sorting laundry, cleaning up the house, or more.

Readers, when is your preferred time for social engagements? How do you juggle a demanding job, “me” time, and your family and friends? For those of you with kids, how has it changed your social life?

Comments

  1. i really look forward to the comments on this one, i got married and started at big law within weeks of each other and have been at it for 16 months now. so far, so good on the me time, husband time, and work schedule — but i want to work social time (with friends and even getting out and doing things with my husband that don’t involve netflix). s by far, i love lunching on weekdays with friends- its the perfect breather, but only works on not busy work days — added bonus is i don’t have to worry about when my work day will end and plans don’t get cancelled that way, plus a girl’s gotta have lunch. lately, after work plans get cancelled due to work every single time i make them, so i don’t even feel motivated to try.

    • It sounds intuitive, but I would make it intentional to try to do new things with your husband. When we first got married, we moved across the country and started new jobs, and it took about a year for us to even think about doing anything other than resting and watching movies in our free time! After that year, we started making little goals and plans to do one new thing per month. We took an evening to talk about all the activities we thought we might like to try and looked around on Yelp for 3 places that offered that activity. Then we just made it a goal that at least once a month, we were going to pick an activity from that list. It helped that we already had locations, times, pricing, and direction lined up, so all we had to do was clear the schedule and do it. Now that we’re more in the swing of things, we’re able to take one night per week for “us” time, and we always try to make a point to get out of the house, at least for an hour.

      • Once I started working about a year and a half ago, BF and I fell into a pattern of not doing much other than going out to the gym or dinner and a movie and the occasional party/dinner with friends. While I certainly love doing those things, it was getting pretty boring — so I’ve started to take advantage of things like Groupon/Living Social for classes or museum tickets and Goldstar (half-price tickets to plays etc.) If we’ve already spent the money for the event, we’re much more likely to actually do it! Sometimes one of us will be ‘on’ for the day and plan a day trip or something out of the city.

        The downside to being “comfortably coupled” is that it’s easy (for me) to not schedule social activities. As this has recently started to bug me, I’ve started making a habit of going to my knitting group and getting back into taking random arts/crafts classes. There was some push-back from the BF, who doesn’t know many people around here, and felt a little ‘abandoned’ but he’s now realized that it’s good for everyone involved if we’re not spending all of our free time together!

  2. Add in two kids (daycare closes at 6pm) and the “me” time becomes a thing of the past. Keeping up with more than 3 friends (that aren’t in a mommy group)? Crazy talk! Hubby works late, so I’m lucky to coordinate one evening “off” a week at best.

    I find lunches to be the only real time for friends. If you don’t work within 5 blocks of me, sorry, you aren’t on the list. Luckily, my core is all downtown.

    Pathetic? Yes, but it’s just a season in my life, this too shall pass and I will be missing the crazy nights running from work, bus/car, preschool, ballet practice, dinner, bath, storytime, bedtime, wine (yes please), and bedtime for me.

    • Yep, I was you 10-18 years ago and now that mine are both in late high school/early college, I do have the me-time that I missed back then. And, yes, in a lot of ways I do miss it. I’m not quite needed as much as I was and that’s what happens.

      One thing that I did starting 10 years ago was to power-walk every Saturday and/or Sunday morning with one or more of my best girlfriends. We sometimes had to meet at 6:30 to get the walk in before ball games or church but we were pretty consistent and I still walk with one friend now. We got our walk/talk therapy and did something good for body, mind and spirit all at once.

      Lunch (or coffee) is the only other thing that I could fit in during that time too. I learned the hard way after standing up a friend on Saturday and never did that again.

    • I’m with you. I have two small kids. It’s almost impossible to even get the house clean and we can’t afford a maid. Luckily, I live in a city and have a friend that lives a block away. Sometimes we meet up for a drink after the kids go to bed. Typically, I pick up the kids and my husband and I do a dance involving dinner, tidying up, bathtime, bedtime, etc. Usually followed by a beer/glass of wine, a tv show, and then sleep.

      It’s funny because I used to think that my organizational skills and drive would enable me to more successfully juggle a career, a family, and a social life. Once the children arrived, that basically shot that dream down.

    • This is a great topic if only because it makes me feel a little less lonely living this same lifestyle with work and two little ones. I find myself abandoned by a lot of working but no kids friends, or stay at home mom friends because they all have social time that I don’t have.

      I am surprised that Kat is an introvert. I think this a part of it for me too–after work, family, house, errands, I don’t feel like even picking up the phone or checking my facebook the way I see people do compulsively. So I know I am the reason for some social isolation but I guess things will change as the kids get older.

  3. Am I the only one that gets annoyed by friends calling while they’re “multitasking” with housework, hiking, etc.? I’d rather have 10 min. of full attention every few weeks (or months if need be) than 45 min. listening to someone go about their chores who is “working me in.”

    • For me it depends on the friend. I have one friend who somehow manages to listen perfectly while cooking dinner. She often apologizes for the noise in the background even as she is asking an in-depth question about whatever I just said. I never feel like I don’t have her attention. But yes, I have other friends who I feel like just aren’t in the conversation. I want to say “Hey, just call me back another time!”

      • I just can’t talk on the phone. I don’t talk on the phone with any friends. I much prefer email to keep in touch!

        • Me too, dread making phone calls and always put them off and feel like my friendships have suffered due to this ‘phone phobia’! Anyone else feel this way?

          • I seldom talk on the phone. My parents have learned to deal with this by getting unlimited texting plans. My father is in his 70s and is quite adept at it now.

          • Yes! I hate talking on the phone socially! (I’m fine using it for business). I also prefer to use e-mail or just plan a time to get together in person. I feel bad about it, but by know all my friends seem to understand that “well, she just hates the phone” so I don’t think they are suprised or hurt that I don’t call much. I do make an effort to see them, send cards, send emails and texts, etc.

          • Totally. I despise talking on the phone, whether socially or for work. And don’t even get me started on this whole video phone thing that is becoming alarmingly common now! Glad to hear that I’m not the only one.

          • Yes. Only talk to my very nearest and dearest on the phone. No one else.

          • Yes- I am with you there. I talk to my mom and two close friends on the phone and that is pretty much it. I have to admit I have probably lost more than one friend because of this because they don’t text/email and I don’t talk on the phone. I’ve had a few arguments with friends who hate texting because I don’t call and they don’t text and then everyone gets annoyed.

            I think part of my issue is that I really feel like I am invading on people’s space by calling. I wonder if they’re eating, sleeping, busy, etc. Obviously I know they don’t have to pick up, but usually I just psych myself out of calling. In other cases it’s just torture for me talk to certain people on the phone because they’re so vibrant in person and over the phone it’s like pulling teeth to figure out what to discuss.

          • oh my gosh, i thought i was the only one who was this way. i am an introvert, maybe an extreme one? the things is, i do like being around people, i just feel like i’m intruding when i call…

        • I have a really hard time focusing on something that has only an audio and no visual component. If I’m not looking at whoever is talking to me, in person or otherwise, I totally space out and lose most of what they’re saying. Needless to say I’m a terrible phone person.

        • I also hate the phone, I hate it. I have just never been the Chatty Cathy type that could stay on the phone forever, even when I was a teenager. Say what you need to say and when you run out of things to say, hang up. The only friend I routinely talk to on the phone is my very best friend and she feels the same way. Our phone conversations are usually 10 minutes, max. If there’s a crisis, we meet in person.

    • AnonInfinity :

      I don’t mind chores or walking, as long as the person is clearly still interested/engaged in the conversation.

      What I do mind is the other person using the restroom! Ew!

    • I love talking to friends while running errands/tidying etc. and like when they do that too. It makes close friends feel like a part of my day.

    • Agree, I hate it too. My Dad does this when he calls me, it makes me wonder why he bothers to call in the first place if he isn’t going to sit down and chat.

    • I’m guilty of calling people while I’m walking somewhere. I guess I figure it’s 20-30 minutes in which I’m not really doing anything, so I try and multitask. Besides, if I wait until I get home, I’ll just be pacing around my house/living room while I talk instead.

      • I do this, too. But I don’t think it’s a problem if you can focus on the person you’re calling. I can walk and talk, or cook and talk, and it’s sometimes the only time I have, and I have had some truly fantastic chats in that time. On the other hand, some friends who have had children can never have a normal chat with me if their child is around. It’s an interruption every 2 min. (I understand it’s not their fault, but it’s still an interruption) and/or I am just being told everything the kid is saying/doing live-action, which while I am sure is adorable is rarely the reason I called/picked up. I know it’s hard to find time if you have kids, but honestly — and I hate to say this — it makes me not enjoy those chats.

        All that said, talking on the phone is a skill. Not everyone has it! I, for one, can only talk on the phone to some people. Others I have such awkward, terrible conversations with (inc. my otherwise lovely S.O.) that it’s like pulling teeth, and I prefer to text or talk with those people in person.

    • I can’t focus when all I’m doing is talking on the phone. I get really antsy and grumpy and zone out. I’m a much better conversationalist when I’m walking somewhere. And honestly, I’m not sure why the other person would be upset because I’m talking to them while walking around my neighbor. It doesn’t affect my ability to focus on the conversation. Sure, a car might go by and make it hard to hear me for a minute, but given our reception at home, it’s just as likely that bad static will interrupt the conversation.

      • soulfusion :

        This is me too. I pace my apartment if I’m not walking home/sitting in a cab/cooking. Although, sometimes getting a phone call will motivate me to attend to neglected tasks like straightening up my apartment.

        I have a lot of long distance friends/family and they know my 20 minute walk home is when I make my calls and generally know when I get in the door I’m ready to hang up (so they don’t accompany me to the bathroom!!) unless we are deep into a lengthy important discussion.

        And I will add that to all of you non-phone talker people, this is hard for me. I have a number of friends who have some deep aversion to the phone and I get it. I have things I inexplicably avoid as well. BUT, it really makes it difficult to keep up and for those of us who are single (just me??) and count on the phone to stay connected . . . it can leave us feeling a bit lonely. I have certain friends I just don’t bother calling so we may not stay in close touch because I get tired of them never picking up. Just putting that out there.

        • I am single and do just fine communicating via text, email, gchat, Skype, and the other electronic methods out there. The phone isn’t the only game in town and at least with the other methods, I don’t have to worry about the other person’s schedule.

          • Notalawyer :

            I am single and detest talking on the phone. Usually I’m super busy and can’t stop what I’m doing to chat, so am very distracted.

            I much prefer email. That way I can respond when I am free. And Sunday afternoons for lunch are usually available for friend time.

        • Original Lola :

          I think we’ve split into separate crowds – those who stay in touch via phone and those who don’t. My friendships with the phone talkers have basically dropped off. And those who aren’t on facebook or gchat still get a Christmas Card from me, but that’s about it.

          It’s not that I don’t like them, it’s that I don’t like the phone. (And I’m also really far away, on the other coast.)

  4. Totally! (Though I am sometimes guilty of being the friend who is doing the chores on the phone. Luckily, my loved ones call me on it.)

  5. I’m a fan of evening coffee on the night the s/o plays league sports or Sunday after church coffee/lunch. These both work easily into time slots when my s/o is also busy (because s/o is the primary person I aim to spend time with) and is at a time when I know I will be available because it follows an event ending at a specific time (church, for example, is ALWAYS over at noon).

    I keep in touch with a handful of people and meet them once a month. I have a few other friends who fall into the quarterly slot. The handful of people in my monthly “must meet” also tend to be the ones I email every couple weeks. We’ll exchange replies for a few days and then there’s some gap time.

    The most important thing to making meeting people a priority is to plan it. Don’t say, “Let’s meet up sometime.” Instead say, “Let’s meet next Wednesday at 7PM.” Add it to the calendar and prioritize that relationship.

  6. I have very little me time. I race to get the kids out of the house in time, then race to work, then work, race home to make dinner, put the kids to bed, then clean up the house and often do more work.

    I have little nibbles of me time on my commute (often when I can call someone), and one night a week when I have choir. And naptime on the weekends, although the 2 kids don’t often nap at the same time! Unfortunately, when my oldest turns 4 I fear naptime will be a thing of the past.

    I have very few girlfriends – 2 from HS, 1 from college, 1 from law school, and my sister – that I talk to on the phone. I talk to my sister every week but the others are about once ever 3-4 months.

    Husband and I have couple friends – we hang out with them with the kids and occasionally without. We don’t really have time to also have individual GTGs with just the husband and my husband, or just the wife and me, though.

    • Regarding the nap time, my mom always made a point that each day we’d have “quiet time”. It started with just 10 minutes when we were really young, and grew to an hour by the time we were in upper elementary school. Basically, “quiet time” consisted of going into our separate rooms by ourselves, and just playing, napping, reading, whatever we wanted to do. It wasn’t used as punishment, just part of our daily schedule in the summer. Get up, play outside while it was cool enough, lunch, quiet time, dinner, play outside, bath and bed. Maybe this could replace “nap time”?

      • My mom and nanny had a quiet time policy too! In retrospect, I think it was really important to my mental health as a child; I’m an introvert and needed some down time in which to regroup. Adult life without quiet time often feels like I’m drowning in a sea of overstimulation…

        It was also a time to do quiet things that were often very creative – writing stories, making up songs, daydreaming. I get to do those things during my walk to and from work now, which is my adult version of “quiet time.”

    • When my parents stay home all day, they used to (and still do) take a nap after lunch. During that time, us kids had to stay quiet but we had freedom to do whatever we liked – we enjoyed it a lot. My sister and I used to “do” our mom’s hair and makeup. We would argue over who’s turn it was so my mom would split her hair and we would have so much fun.

    • I can’t recommend “quiet time” more. My 5yr old has to go to her bed at noon every day (weekends really since otherwise she is in school). She can sit quietly, “read” her books, etc for an hour. Sometimes if I get lucky, she even takes a nap.

      I just started taking the bus again (gas is just too expensive lately). I am enjoying the quiet time to sit and catch up on a book, online (thank you iphone) or even just make to do lists and clear my head. I don’t even mind missing the express bus now and again (gets me an extra 15 minutes to myself).

      • Original Lola :

        I know what you mean about bus time! I have about a 5-minute drive to work, but I miss the days when I had a 30m bus ride. I could ease into work and back out at the end of the day. It was a good mental break.

  7. AnonInfinity :

    I have a lot of friends who are into running, cycling, etc., so I tend to do a lot of group exercise. I have a few regular running buddies on different days, and then long group rides or runs on the weekends. The weekend ones are perfect excuses to get coffee or brunch after, too.

    Other than that, I like to meet up after lunch. I do a TON of texting and emailing, too.

  8. Trying again :

    I’m sooo tired of writing long comments and then having them deleted for “being posted too soon”. Ugh.

    I’m an extreme extrovert. I love having people around me almost always and in an ideal world would go out 5 nights a week. That rarely happens though. I generally try and go out 2-3 times during the week and 1-2 times during the weekend. If all else fails and I’m swamped at work, I will at least go out on Saturday night with friends for dinner. I leave Sundays free for running errands, cooking for the week, and hanging out with my hubby.

    The key to being social is being a very organized planner. I prioritize the people who I want to see and make plans WELL in advance (sometimes up to a month in advance). I used to hang out with 20 plus people. Now I would much rather hang out with 5 people regularly. Most of my friends are lawyers and everyone is understanding if folks have to cancel plans, so it’s usually not a problem.

    Any other ladies who are extroverts married to introverts? My wonderful husband is an introvert and feels exhausted keeping up with my social schedule, so I usually plan outings with girlfriends during the week so that he doesn’t feel compelled to come along. But I usually really like to go out on Friday nights WITH him, and he usually wants to stay at home and watch TV. I somehow feel depressed staying in on a Friday night, but I also want to respect my SO and do what he likes too. Anyone else in this situation?

    • I am. I like to go out Friday nights even though I’m usually exhausted, but I’ve pretty much given up on getting my husband to come out with me. If I want to go out on a Friday, I get a bunch of friends together and we go out. We also all seem to have the same issue with our significant others, which is why Friday nights tend to work well for girls’ night. Our guys never object to sitting home. I wonder if it’s less of an introvert thing and just a guy thing? I pick my battles on this issue. One compromise is that if we do stay in on a weekend night, we get fancy takeout. Maybe it’s a little lame but marriage is all about compromise. But I’ll admit, my dream is for my husband to surprise me with dinner reservations or some other date activity that occurs away from our couch and TV.

      • Maddie Ross :

        I don’t think it’s just a guy thing. I’m so exhausted by Friday night — if I go home before I go out, as in I don’t go out for cocktails directly from the office with coworkers, there is really no prayer of me going on Friday night. I’m generally in bed by 9:30 or 10 at the latest.

    • I agree with your SO- Fridays are for takeout and a movie while in PJs. Try Saturday nights instead.

  9. Professional women, I need your advice! I am currently a 1L and just accepted a position with a state-level court of appeals. I was told that the attire is “business.” Is this different than business professional? I want to make sure that I’m dressed appropriately. For the most part, the information I’ve been able to gather seems to apply to a law firm or office setting. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I am currently trying to make the transition from the rotation of jeans, sweatshirts, and cardigans.

    • If it’s a court, business = suit (I’ll include sheath dress with blazer in the definition of suit). At least, that would be my intuition.

    • AnonInfinity :

      I think business generally means business formal. If you already have a suit, wear that the first day and check out the atmosphere before buying a bunch of business formal clothing. You don’t want to be in a position where you bought lots of expensive clothing when you didn’t really need to.

    • In a court, business means suits. Is this an internship? You’ll probably get some leeway in what you wear if it is an internship but you would be wise to get a few suits. When I was an intern at a court the summer after my 1L year, I only had one or two suits. I tried to wear suits as much as I could but the office was not so super formal that I needed to wear one everyday. In addition to that I wore very conservative skit/cardigan combinations with formal accessories like pearls, simple pumps, etc.

    • Business attire = suit. For your first week or so, wear a full suit (jacket and skirt/pants were cut from the same cloth) closed-toed shoes and a top that completely covers your shoulders and armpits (so you can take your jacket off if you get hot). After the first week of observing how other women dress, you should have a feel for whether it’s acceptable to wear a non-suit jacket and skirt/pants combo, a sleeveless top, open-toe shoes, etc. Remember that as the most junior person, you have the least leeway on the dress code – just because a senior person pushes the envelope, doesn’t mean you can.

      • I think you should observe how the men dress. I have been in a few offices were the men wear suits but women wear blouses or sweaters instead. If it’s a suit environment, you should be in a suit too, but you’ll get much more leeway on quality of suit.

      • Original Lola :

        Eponine’s got it right.

        If you don’t have enough suits, wait until you get there before buying them. Skirts with hose and heels could do in a pinch when you run out of suits.

    • Suit.

    • Thank you for all the responses. This is very helpful.

  10. Planning With Kids Involved :

    It is a little easier for me because we have my step-daughter (15) only half-time, and we have a clear parenting plan with her mom. So my fiance and I can easily tell in advance when we will be alone and plan for it. And I agree with Ashley that you and your partner need to apportion your time thoughtfully between pizza/HBO and dinner dates with other friends.

    The other bonus of step-parenting is that my fiance makes a point to regularly spend time alone with his daughter when she is with us, and also with his son (20) who doesn’t live with us, so that is time I use for my alone time or time with friends whom I see without my fiance.

    Anyone else have experience with part-time parenting/step-parenting/parenting plans etc?

    • Yes. My stepkid’s a young teen, and is with us 3/4 time. It is definitely helpful to have a break in the schedule one weeknight per week, without having the homework/sports practice/quality time, but I find that whereas it used to be a pretty reliable “date night,” now it’s “catch up” night for me and my husband. We tend to work late or do errands.

      I used to make a point not to schedule independent activites on the every-other-weekend when my stepkid is with us, because family integretation is important and I worried about what message it would send to go to out with the girls instead of spending family time. But as things have gone along, both my husband and I now will occasionally take advantage of having another adult to hold down the fort at home, and will schedule some friend time (or work events, etc.). At the same time, we’ve put a greater emphasis on trying to be “present” when we’re home.

      Many complicated issues can pop up with the whole step-family thing, though. This might be an interesting topic for further discussion.

    • Sad about my schedule :

      Yes. My husband and I just got married last July. My stepkids are with us 50% of the time (3 days on, 3 days off). Both boys, ages 4 and 6 (so there’s a bunch of school activities, sports, etc.). The custody schedule matches my husband’s work schedule – he works 48 hours on, then has 4 days off. So, for example, he’ll work Saturday 8:00 am to Monday 8:00 am. We’ll get the boys Monday night, have them Monday night – Wednesday night, they go back to Mom Thursday night, and he’ll go back to work Friday morning. Then the cycle starts over, except he gets off Sunday morning, etc., and goes back to work Thursday morning. Hope this makes sense, because it can be really hard for me to track without a calendar.

      This actually is really hard on me, because I like to be home at night when the boys are home. But, I also have to go straight home on the nights we don’t have the boys/my husband isn’t home, to feed the dogs, etc. I work best on a set schedule (ie, run on Monday, work out at the gym on Tuesday), and I haven’t been able to set that up, so I’m really noticing the lack of regular workouts. Can’t do it in the morning, because I take one kid to school (my husband takes the other one). Next year should be better, when they go to the same school and start at the same time! Maybe I can work out in the morning then.

      The schedule also makes it hard to schedule time with friends, plan vacations, etc., because I always have to double-check when we have the kids, or if their Mom has requested vacation time, etc.

      I do get my alone time – on the nights that everyone is gone – but I also worry that if we ever have kids, those nights all by myself with no help will threaten my sanity…

      What can you do….

      • Another Laura :

        Sad, your husband must be a firefighter. That kind of work schedule does cause some disruption if the other spouse has a job. Add in kids and it gets more complicated. I found that working out in the morning once kids are in school is the best. They also get a bit older and don’t need as much minute-by-minute monitoring.

      • Anne Shirley :

        Man, you sound like an awesome step-mom! Are the kids schools so far apart he can’t just drop one off earlier so you can get an AM workout in?

      • How do you and your husband coordinate some time with all four of you (you, dad, both kids) and some time just with dad and kid(s)?

        We have my SD (15) on a 2-2-5-5 schedule, which means some school days every week and the entire weekend every other weekend.

        She and her dad and I have weekly calendar meetings (we all sit around the table and each of us has a copy of the calendar) and we say out loud what is happening each day. She hates this, btw, because it takes some amount of time more than 2 seconds — oh, well — when we don’t do it, she misses things because of scheduling snafus, so she has learned the accept the lesser of two evils.

        When our discussion gets to the next weekend she will be with us, I always say, “when are the two of you going to spend special Dad/her name time together, so I know when to run my errands?” (Her dad and I already know when it will be, but we think it is important for her to realize that it is a purposeful event that she spends time alone with him.)

        On the other hand, we also think it is important for us to spend time all together to build family memories and traditions. So we also schedule that.

        Anyone else have ideas on this?

        Apologies is this is far afield from a corporettes perspective.

        • I grew up as a kid on a 2-2-5-5 schedule, and I’m so glad people are still using it!

          I think it is absolutely the best schedule for families doing split-custody. Week by week is so frustrating, and on 2-2-5-5 you get weekend and weekday time with the kids. (For those who don’t know, it’s 2 weekdays with Mom, 2 days with Dad, and then Friday-Sat-Sun alternate. It works out to 2 days here, 2 days there, and then 5 days here and 5 days there.)

          As a lawyer, I worked for a family court judge one time and tried to explain this to him. He couldn’t quite grasp it and kept ordering families to do week-by-week.

          • It's Better Than Nothing :

            Glad it worked for you. We would much prefer switching Monday before/after school with a mid-week dinner for the off parent.

            But it is better than what we had before, which was that mom sent an email the last day of each month telling him what the schedule was for the month that started the next day. At least this wys there is certainty and an ability to plan.

            And yes, as a lawyer, I think that the mediator they hired who let them out of her office without a parenting plan committed malpractice. It took us three years to get mom to agree to it and sign it and it was worth every. single. minute. of effort to get it done.

  11. For my in-town friends, I’ll see them on the weekends. During the week, I’ll try to take care of chores/gym once I get home from work so I don’t have to do that on the weekend (plus, laundry is so much easier if I do one load a night rather than like 4 or 5 loads on Sunday). Though there is one friend I have a standing date with for a Thursday night tv show we watch together.

    I am pretty terrible about regularly checking in with my friends that live far away. But, when I do get around to calling or emailing, we always just pick back up right where we left off, and they remain extremely good friends. I try not to get hung up on “oh, have I called X this month?” I can go 6 months not talking to them, and it’s fine. We’re all busy, and in very different time zones in some cases (my best friend lives internationally), but we know we’ll catch up when we can.

    • I’m the same. Try to get together with in-town friends on weekends, but all of my college friends are scattered across the country and I’m terrible at staying in touch. Luckily, one’s a doctor, one’s a vet, and one’s a PhD candidate, so we’re all leading crazy schedules and nobody gets upset when months pass without talking.

  12. Social life?? Ha! What’s that?

    Husband and I can’t even figure out date night. : p

  13. I’m in big law and married and am expecting my first child in 4 weeks! I usually have dinner with various girlfriends 2-3 times a month and then some other sort of get together on a weekend about once a month. The only people I have lunch with during the week are work friends and that’s probably also 2-3 times a month. I don’t live in the same city as most of my girfriends, so weekend time takes extra effort, besides my husband and I manage to fill it up very quickly–we’re restless people and always put too much on our plates.

  14. I have almost no time for anything. Also, for some reason I have very bad luck with limited time plans so on the weekends, seeing my mom or seeing my friends inevitably turns into an all day affair. Sometimes this is because by the time we meet it’s already half way through the day, but it’s not like I get a lot done beforehand. As a result, if I make a “plan,” I feel like I lose half my weekend. Chores take up the other half and before you know it, it’s Monday.

    One thing I do have some luck with is making plans to do specific things ahead of time. E.g., I will buy tickets to see a play about 2 -3 weeks in advance, and then I will make time for that b/c I know that it’s coming. If I do it for a wednesday or Thursday night, it makes the whole week go buy faster.

  15. I have a core group of three girlfriends that I see regularly, by which I mean about once a month, for lunch or drinks. We are all super-busy with jobs, kids, husbands, etc. or it would probably be more often. There is no easy way to make time, you just do. I have come to believe that just like working out or having sex, people make time for what’s important to them, and if friends are important, you make time. My girlfriends and I have an agreement that once we set a lunch date, there needs to be a serious (kid-sick or career-threatening) emergency to cancel out. But usually, we are so happy to see each other, and have so much to talk about, we all move mountains to get to our meetup. We also keep up with each other via email and Facebook between meetings.

    I also have about 5 other friends who I see every couple of months or so for lunch, drinks, etc. One good way to combine work and friend contact is to go with a friend to a networking cocktail party or professional organization luncheon; I do this a lot, and it definitely helps to counteract social anxiety and boredom. The only thing is not getting so caught up in catching up with your friend that you forget to network or pay attention to the program. :)

    I have some friends I have actually been friends with since high school that I used to talk to/e-mail/see a lot, but in the last couple of years we’ve all kind of gone separate ways and rarely talk or see each other now. Part of the problem is that most of them refuse to use Facebook, which is my primary way of keeping in touch with people. Then, when the old friends call every couple of months, they expect me to give them the blow-by-blow of my life since the last time we talked. Um, number one, see my comment above about “I hate the phone.” Number two, I don’t have time to recap the last two months for you, that’s why people use Facebook, to keep up with their friends. I am not obsessive about documenting my life on Facebook but I definitely hit the high points and I feel way more connected with the friends who I may not see that often, but who keep up with me on Facebook, than my non-Facebook friends who I only talk to three or four times a year. As my life gets busier and busier, unfortunately those friends (who are some of my oldest) are going by the wayside in favor of the ones I’m connected to every day through social media. Sad, but true.

  16. Valleygirl :

    one thing friends and I have started doing is using facebook to create an every other month “field trip” a facebook group of my husband and my friends (and their friends they’ve invited to the group) go to a place/do an activity and dinner (i.e., we’re currently planning a trip to the Getty and dinner at a local italian place). Our friends are encouraged to bring their friends, etc. so we usually end up with a group of 15 or so people. It’s nice because we schedule far enough in advance to get a solid group together, we get chances to explore parts of LA (there’s been talk of a double decker hollywood bus tour since we’re all locals but want to check it out), and have a nice big “event” to look forward to.

  17. Great post! As we get older, we realize that there isn’t time for everything and everyone and as brutal as it may sound, friend selection has to occur at some point. I typically work out of town Monday-Thursday so weekdays are completely out for me. Friday night is “date night” with the beau. Saturday morning is highly coveted relax time at the farmer’s market. My best bet is usually Sunday lunch or Sunday early afternoon cocktails. And yes, proximity is key!

  18. soulfusion :

    I think the more complicating factor in terms of fitting a social calendar into a busy life is having friends who have similarly busy (or even more complicated) lives. For example, when I was a junior associate I did not necessarily have a difficult time scheduling social time because it seemed all my friends were similarly situated – single, living in the city, juggling around work but that was about it so it was relatively easy to meet up. As the years have flown by, friends have coupled up, moved to more distant areas that require commute time and/or had kids. All of this greatly complicates the already busy schedule of Big Law, never mind all the people who have plain moved away. And don’t get me started on trying to strike new friendships when you aren’t necessarily reliable (I recently had to cancel SUNDAY NIGHT plans with a friend due to work).

    I have tried at various points to have brunch groups (because I love brunch) – usually 2-4 women – who meet once a month. I’ve even taken the lead in organizing every month and often this will work for a number of months and then fall to pieces due to one road block or another (holidays, baby being born, increased work/play travel, someone moving) and it is hard to jump start it again.

    I also just find the time and effort needed to plan social events can be exhausting at times and after a few failures I just give up. Of course, on the flip side I know I’m the one who often has the ridiculous schedule and I really don’t blame anyone too much for not bothering to invite me anymore because one can only hear “I can’t, work” so many times.

    I think this is especially a sensitive topic for me lately since I find work encroaching on all aspects of my life (I took a vacation last month where I was technically out of the office 4 days but have still only had 2 days I didn’t bill since mid-February). As a single person I find it far more difficult to use the excuses I hear from others “oh, my wife is going to kill me if I get on one more call this weekend” not only because I don’t have a wife but because it doesn’t sound the same to say, “my friends will stop inviting me places if I cancel one more time.”

    And don’t get me started on lunch . . . I had a colleague with whom I used to get lunch with on a weekly basis (not go and sit somewhere to eat, just walk somewhere, pick up lunch and return to our desks). We are lucky lately if we can coordinate our schedules enough to walk to lunch once a month.

    Clearly I am at the point where I need to strike a better balance and I am looking elsewhere but in the mean time, I needed a place to vent and maybe a bit of comfort in knowing I’m not the only one . . . .

    • South of Houston :

      I’m sorry you’re going through that. I really feel you (as I sit here at 9pm at my desk sneaking a peek at Corporette :) I totally understand how it feels when it seems like work is taking over your entire life. We are extremely understaffed at my firm (finance) and it seems like the work is never ending. It makes me very sad to have to cancel on friends and feel like I’m drifting away from people I had been so close to only a few years out of college. I know it happens, but it still feels depressing.

      I really hope it gets better for you soon and that you can find a balance that works for you. You’re not alone… we’ll get there someday!

  19. Skippy pea :

    Glad to see this is a universal problem. With my lawyer schedule and DH’s consultant schedule with only Sunday not spoken for, it is a big deal if we even get to watch a movie on a Saturday night. We usually fall asleep half way through.
    But I still try and schedule getting together with different set of friends once a month. Entertaining at home is non existent due to lack of time to make home company ready.

  20. LUNCH! If you are fortunate to work at a company where you can take a one hour lunch, it is a great time to catch up with old friends and brush up on your networking skills. I always say “let’s do lunch” and it is always a fun time!

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