Spending time with friends has been high on my list of health goals this year and I’m happy to say last weekend we spent both Friday and Saturday evening catching up with great friends. I know this may sound like a strange health goal, but I can honestly say I’ve seen the effects of experiencing long periods of times without this activity we often take for granted. The reason for me not spending time with friends is partly myself being a little bit of a home-body and the other part is simply life circumstances. When I was pregnant I ended up in the hospital for 2 months with preterm labor and while I had a few visitors, my days were mostly filled with nurses and doctors coming and going. It was the first time I felt somewhat trapped…I couldn’t just leave and go grab lunch or dinner with a friend.
Next came newborn triplets with an around-clock schedule like many other moms. I am fortunate that I had lots of family and friends who helped out during the first 3 months also providing that social interaction I didn’t even realize I needed at the time. Once they left I didn’t get out nearly as much as I should have. I certainly got a chance to go to dinner here and there, but it was once every 2 months rather than weekly. The big difference with having mutiples is the logistics often make it hard to do normal social things. Let’s just say it’s tough to pack up 3 newborns and meet your friend at the coffee shop. Last Saturday I met a new mom who was able to hold her 8-week old baby through the entire night in a wrap and even mentioned they went to a movie with him. I think my expression was shock and awe (and of course envy)…these are the experiences multiple moms don’t get to have and at the same time ”getting out” is such a small detail we aren’t warned about how it can affect you.
Don’t take my word for it though, research demonstrates that spending time with friends is directly correlated with an increase in happiness and less stress. In 2009 the Gallup-Healthways Happiness-Stress Index found weekends/holidays and social time combined accounted for as much as 87% of the daily changes in the Happiness-Enjoyment Index and 60% of the daily changes in the Stress-Worry index. We really are social beings and need that positive interaction we receive from friends and family.
This isn’t a “poor me” blog post. I didn’t experience post partum depression like many other moms nor did my kids have any significant health issues which can lead parents to overwhelming stress. My point is to show that allowing yourself to be confined for whatever reason can affect your overall well-being and happiness and it can easily be avoided. I hope that any pregnant moms (singletons and multipes) out there can take this to heart and make plans to prioritize social connections. I’ve loved staying home with my kids and wouldn’t change any part of that. The only thing I would change is using more baby sitting hours for Mark and I or just myself to get out with friends. It is incredibly important and why I’m so focused on making these changes now.
If you are a new mom and find yourself staying at home longer and longer periods of time, make sure to priortize getting out with friends…even if it’s for a half hour! You’ll decrease your stress levels and improve your overall mood. If you are a new multiple mom and can’t figure out ways to get out easily, take some tips from my friend Esther over at www.spontaneoustriplets.com, she has her friends come to them and regularly has potlucks and gatherings at her house. Keep yourself social! It’s an important part of good health!