13 Play Dates Just for Moms
Although we’re rarely alone, motherhood can sometimes feel a little lonely. Spending time with a few understanding friends to vent, laugh and re-energize in a kid-free zone is a healthy and fun way to shake off the blues.
“We tend to be able to schedule nap time for toddlers, bath time for babies to help them relax and even make it easy for our partners to hit the basketball court with buddies. But when it comes to us, we forget that we need the same recharging,” says Maria Bailey, host of Mom Talk Radio, author, talk show host and founder of National Mom’s Nite out.
Whether you have a gaggle of friends or just a few you’d like to know better, here are 13 ideas to fire up some fun.
1. Tap your inner Matisse. Studies suggest that artistic engagement can reduce stress and anxiety. Many art studios offer instructor-led, one-time classes created specifically for ladies’ nights out. Feel a pleasant drop in your blood pressure while painting and sipping wine in the company of friends. No cleanup required!
2. Puzzle it out. If your group loves mystery games, plan a gathering at a mystery “escape room.” In this entertainment trend, two or more people are locked in a room and must find and follow clues to discover a way to break out of it within a set amount of time.
3. Pamper and primp. Schedule manicures and pedicures for you and your friends. Or check out a blow out bar, where you and your friends can sip refreshments while getting a signature blow dry and style, or makeup touch-up. Depending on the size of your group, some spas will book an event just for your party.
4. Swirl, sniff and sip. Head to a winery for a relaxing wine tasting or host your own. Choose a group of wines from a specific region ranging from dry to sweet, and hide the names behind a large bow or decorative material. Place a placard with a number in front of each bottle. Give each guest a glass with her own wine charm. Provide scoring sheets for each wine your guests taste. Serve light appetizers including cheese and crackers, chocolates and palette-cleansing fruits.
5. Coordinate a book swap. Invite your friends to bring gently used books, cookbooks and magazines they no longer want. Guests can choose as many books to take home as they brought to give away. Stephanie Perry, a contributor to Readers Lane (readerslane.com), suggests providing Post-it notes so your friends can share their thoughts about a particular book. “As they peruse, guests can write in their own responses — and some interesting ‘conversations’ can result,” she says.
6. Get pinning. Host a party during which your guests bring snacks and beverages they found on Pinterest. When mom of three Jen Conrad hosted a Pinterest Party, she and her friends made a scented sugar scrub they found on the site. “Everything we ate, drank and did was a Pinterest idea,” she says.
7. Host a “My Favorite Things” party.
What is one kitchen gadget, makeup or cleaning product you can’t live without? Hide your item in a gift bag and host a gift exchange with friends. Once everyone has opened her bag, each participant explains why she loves the product she brought to give away. “We all took notes so we could run out and try the fun stuff,” says Amber Shepard, a mom of two. Provide each guest with a complimentary notepad and pen to keep track of tips and ideas.
8. Stock the freezer. As if the school year isn’t hectic enough, the holidays are right around the corner. Make mealtime easier by planning ahead with a frozen meal exchange. Each friend should arrive with enough four-person servings for the number of attendees. If five of you participate, each should arrive with five meals. To simplify the exchange, agree on a budget in advance and choose guests who have similar dietary requirements. Casseroles, lasagnas, marinated meats, soups and stews work well.
9. Plan a cover dish party. “I love this idea because it allows you to have meaningful conversations with other moms and deepen those relationships,” Bailey says. Keep the event simple for your friends by requesting that each dish include five ingredients or less.
10. Explore local cuisine. Gather your foodie friends together and dine at popular, nearby eateries while enjoying great conversation. Take turns choosing one restaurant per month. To build continuity, make the event a standing occasion on the same night each month.
11. Catch the latest flicks. Head to the theater to watch a movie with your friends. After the film, review it together over dinner or dessert. If budgets are tight, take turns hosting movie-watching and dining parties at each friend's house.
12. Form a culture club. Experience the fine arts with other friends who share a similar zest for integrating more local culture into their lives. Attend different events every four to six weeks, like jazz concerts, live theater, symphony performances or museum exhibits.
13. Be spontaneous. Light the fire pit or gather around your fireplace and invite a few friends over for a last-minute glass of wine, cocktails or mocktails. By simply creating time for you and your friends to chat, you’ll deepen your friendships and nurture your spirit, too.
Freelance journalist Christa Melnyk Hines, looks forward to a mom’s night out at least once every six weeks. She is the author of “Confidently Connected: A Mom’s Guide to a Satisfying Social Life.”