Nights out help moms recharge, reconnect
Ask most moms what's on their calendars and they'll rattle off a list of doctor's appointments, birthday parties, school meetings and play dates for their children. Often, moms' schedules include little or no time for themselves. But moms need to carve out time for recreation, letting off steam and connecting with friends.
Time away from the children recharges a mom's batteries, said Erica Hondroulis, chair of the Bexley Mom's Center steering committee, a mothers support group. "I once heard someone liken a mom to a bank," Hondroulis wrote in an email. "You allow withdrawals of your energy all day long - to your kids, your partner, community groups and other responsibilities. If you don't make some deposits (activities that give you energy rather than take it away) from time to time, you will be overdrawn quickly and have nothing available to anyone."
Taking care of yourself really does help you take care of others, added Lindsay Friskey, project coordinator at the Aveda Institute of Columbus. She encourages women to come in for some budget-friendly services. A bit of pampering really makes a woman feel better about herself, she said. "A happy parent makes for happy children," Friskey said.
While Hondroulis' group offers lots of activities for moms and children, they also plan regular "Girls' Night Out" events for moms to get away from their kids. Past events have included book discussions, visits to the Gallery Hop and dinner out. "The hard part about planning a girls' get-together in Columbus is deciding what not to do," said Beth Ervin, spokesperson for Experience Columbus. "No matter what your interests - shopping, relaxation, dining, pampering, creative activities, cooking classes - there is something that will be just right for you and your friends to share conversation, quality time and lots of laughs."
Hondroulis said she looks for activities that will appeal to a wide variety of people and tries to dream up events that are inexpensive. The group likes to meet at each other's houses for wine tasting or craft projects because it keeps costs down and allows the women more time to socialize. "If you really need to recharge but feel guilty about spending the money, you end up negating the purpose of the night," she said. "Often for an evening in you can just bring a snack to share with the group which costs very little. It's also nice to be able to really talk about a subject - the in-laws, your partner, your kids - which when you are out at a noisy restaurant is often hard to do."
She also encourages the group to plan daytime events. "I am a huge fan of the daytime GNO," she said. "The problem with the GNO at night is that when I get home I still have lots of work to do. I like a daytime GNO because it is a true break. The kids are awake and someone other than me is taking care of them."
Melissa Kossler Dutton has worked as a reporter for more than a decade. She's a frequent contributor to a variety of Ohio publications. She lives in Bexley with her husband and two sons.
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Tips for planning:
- Find a fun event. Look through the local newspaper, area calendar listings, or put out a call to Facebook and Twitter friends for good ideas. Online social networks are a great way for women to swap ideas and information. The Experience Columbus website, www.experiencecolumbus.com, is also a good place to look for ideas.
- Invite lots of women. With moms, there are always last-minute cancellations due to sick kids, husbands working late, or other minor household emergencies. Use Twitter and Facebook to spread the word about your event.
- Make reservations if necessary.
- If you've got a big group attending, it's a good idea to give the restaurant or business a heads up. They also might offer a discount or special service to a large group.
- Pool resources. Set up carpools or babysitter sharing if possible.
- Set a theme. Create activities or discussions around a theme.