My parent friend has a baby and can't really hang with us — should we keep inviting her? #I've got a parenting question!#babies#friendships#parties February 21 2013 | Offbeat Editors offbeatbride Offbeat Home & Life runs these advice questions as an opportunity for our readers to share personal experiences and anecdotes. Readers are responsible for doing their own research before following any advice given here... or anywhere else on the web, for that matter. By: Anathea Utley – CC BY 2.0 My apartment is not baby proof-able (think huge bookshelves with breakables on uneven flooring) and I have a friend whose child is starting to pull herself up and toddle around. There's no space for a Pack 'N Play or similar item. We see each other a lot outside of my apartment, but I feel bad that I've stopped inviting her over for meals or parties because I know getting a baby-sitter isn't a financially feasible option for her. She has been having trouble finding parents of similarly-aged kids with whom she connects and no one else in our circle of friends is a parent and it has been bumming her out. Is it kinder to invite her to stuff I know she can't attend (to let her know she'd be welcome), or just to leave her off the guest list to not remind her of the stuff that she probably can't do? — Allison Allison has two ideas for how to handle the situation, but do you guys have other suggestions? Reporter Name * Reporter Email * Original text Enter the original text here. Edited text* Enter your suggested copyedit here. Notes You can add a note for the editor here. * Required information. Fix Typo PREVIOUS No power in the 'verse can stop my love for this Firefly-themed love note NEXT On figuring out when a kid is old enough to be left alone Show/Hide comments [ 59 ] Talk to her about it. State why you are afraid of having her child over to your place (your property, and the child's safety). Explain that you don't want to isolate her from your events. I am sure that you can find a middle ground. The most important thing is keeping up communication with her, and invitations whether inside, or outside your home. Lack of adult conversation and companionship with friends can cause a new momma to go a bit nutty! 3 agree Reply Remember: just because she became a parent doesn't mean that she stopped being a person with her own social needs. Most moms I know don't always travel with their kids–even when they're hanging out with other moms (or, mom's night out as it's known in my group). Your friend would probably like the opportunity to get out once and awhile without her toddler if she's able to (you don't specify whether or not a partner is in the picture or not). Another option would be to plan something not at your house; just because she has a kid doesn't mean she can't go out to eat! Or, encourage her to plan something at her house. Upshot: keep inviting her. Better for her to say no than to feel abandoned. 4 agree Reply As a new mother to a child that is probably around the same age, I can tell you that I would also prefer to sit down and talk about it. I am the only one in my group of friends to have a child and although they were all really excited when I was pregnant, they seem to have forgotten that I exist. I felt very abandoned and really don't consider them friends anymore. I have one friend who did really make an effort to still see me even if it was breakfast, or coffee every once in awhile. I think that a lot of moms feel this way, especially when they are used to a very active social life. If you really want to show that you care, maybe you and your friends can take turns babysitting ever so often so she can attend social events! 5 agree Reply THIS! Exactly what I wanted to say: if you're up for it, offer to babysit (for free, at her place) once in a while explicitly to give her a night to go out with other friends. I'm not a mother, but I'm an aunt who babysits when the parents need a night out and I LOVE IT. Getting to be around children for a few hours is pretty great (and hey, I didn't realize how much I liked kids until I met some being raised by people I love), and it's also pretty incredible to be trusted with taking care of someone else's child. Babysitting can really cheer me up when I'm having a rough day – hanging out with kids just puts a lot of tough stuff into perspective. I can't endorse babysitting enough. 3 agree Reply This can be difficult, and I know — I'm on the other side of this equation! Just the fact that you're asking is great and shows that you realize how difficult it can be for a new mama. From my perspective — while I love being included, when people ask me to things when it's not clear whether the baby is welcome (dinner at a restaurant), I appreciate it when they clarify (usually I have to ask). But when it is assumed that I will join a group to do a bunch of things, sometimes I wonder if they have any idea of the logistics involved in shuttling a baby/toddler around, or if they really get that especially if you're breastfeeding, the baby *can't* just be left for hours and hours with anybody else (or if the baby is left, accommodations need to be made for pumping). On the other hand, I do regret not being invited to stuff, even if I'm going to usually say no. (Maybe this isn't rational — but it's true). I agree with the suggestion to talk to her — be really open about this. It's not that her toddler is "bad" and can't be in your apartment — it's not safe, and the toddler has every right to BE a toddler (which, by definition, pretty much means pulling himself up and everything else down and over, and testing any and all boundaries!), so it's not totally fair to him to put him in that situation. So, discuss it with her if you can, and keep inviting her after she understands (so she does have the option to come if by any chance she can have someone else watch baby) so she doesn't feel excluded (unless she tells you she'd rather not hear about it; but believe me, we know already exciting things are going on that don't included us and our babies!) And do keep doing things in other locations — playgrounds, child-friendly restaurants and cafes, her house, etc. It IS really important for her to be able to get out of the house and see friends! 1 agrees Reply When I had a baby I felt like my life split in two, with a huge chasm between my friends with children and my single friends. I couldn't attend the same events. I couldn't stay out late. I couldn't "be there" for my friends I had before my child. However, I still wanted to be invited. I wanted the choice, I wanted to still feel like I was a human. That's how women forget themselves and turn into mommies only. We have names. We have the desire for fun. We just can't always follow through. But we should have the choice, the invite, the option for fun. Remember, your friend isn't clueless. She knows that no one wants to talk over a crying baby or have to be quiet for a sleeping infant. If you stop inviting her she will draw closer to her friends with babies and then, it might just be over. 1 agrees Reply "That's how women forget themselves and turn into mommies only." I think this is such an interesting point you're making, but I don't think this happens only because friends stop inviting a new mom out — you, as the new parent, also have to assert yourself. If you want to go out, you make it happen. If you need 2 hours to yourself every so often so you can have your own space, ask someone to help so that can happen. You can also invite friends over after the baby goes to bed — if they're supportive friends, they'll understand breaks for feeding or that they can't get too rowdy. When I was a new parent I just craaaaaaved time to sit with a good friend and just talk, and time to just sit by myself and read. I think it's easy to get entirely engrossed in new motherhood and to almost forget about pre-baby life, and that the new parent has to make the effort — when it makes sense to (not right away because new baby OMG) but when it feels right, AND that good friends will keep trying to find ways to spend time together. It.. takes a village to raise a parent, maybe? Totally cheesy, but often true. 3 agree Reply I disagree that no one wants to conform to the child. To talk over her or to keep quiet around her. I think we forget that these slight modifications in behavior are not a huge put-out. When I walk through Target and a child runs in front of me or is sword-fighting in the aisle, I smile and move around them. They're CHILDREN. And most people are not walking around cursing the kids in their way. We understand that kids are still learning and that babies don't cooperate. It's no reason to just keep them and their parents at home. Movie theaters, sure. No crying babies belong there. But friends houses? Museums? Malls? Absolutely! 3 agree Reply "When I walk through Target and a child runs in front of me or is sword-fighting in the aisle, I smile and move around them." ngl, when I see kids doing that stuff, I say "Sweetie, let's not run / throw things / climb there. You'll get hurt." And the kids stop behaving that way, like "duh, I shouldn't do that." 2 agree Reply When I was a child and someone I didn't know told me to do something, I would stop and usually go back to my parents because I didn't know how to respond to someone I didn't know telling me something. 5 agree Reply I would keep inviting her, but let her know that you totally understand if you can't make it and maybe next time you can do it at her place (or something like that.) It honestly hurts my feelings a little when I hear that my friends went out for happy hour drinks without inviting me at least once and a while. They know I can't usually come to happy hour after work, but it would be nice to be asked since there are rare occasions that I can come. Also, even though most of my friend's places are not baby proofed, I would still go to their houses with my 11-month-old because even though it's a pain in the ass following him around to make sure he doesn't bust his head open or stick his tongue in the electrical sockets, I can still carry on a conversation with a friend even if I can't sit down and look at the person I'm talking to. One last thing that my husband and I have been really appreciative of is people who hold daytime parties. I've been to several breakfast parties where everyone brings breakfast food and we drink mimosas and bloody mary's and it's great because we can bring the kid, but still hang out together. 13 agree Reply I still appreciate being invited, even when I can't go. I especially appreciate invitations that come with a friendly message along the lines of, "I know it's hard for you to make it right now, so I totally understand if you can't come. We would love to see you if you can make it and otherwise we'll catch up another time!" And who knows, it might just be the weekend that Grandma is in town or whatever and she can sneak out for a bit. 1 agrees Reply Yes. I have definitely had last minute phone calls from my mom or mother in law of "Hey I'm coming to town" or "Hey I miss my Grandson" that have sent me to my Facebook events page to look at all the things that I'd been ignoring as impossible. So definitely err on the side of inviting her, because she might spontaneously have a night free, but she won't be able to choose to spend it with you if she doesn't know what's going on. 6 agree Reply Please continue inviting her. Please. I feel so cut off and hurt because my non-parent friends stopped inviting me to things almost as soon as I got pregnant and now, when I would give anything to hand baby off to grandma and have a fire pit night, I can't because I never know they're happening. No, I often won't be able to attend, but there's a difference between being unable to attend and feeling unwanted. Also, be clear about where you feel kids are appropriate and where you don't. As a new parent, I'm not always certain. I have some non-parent friends who would rather see me+baby than have an uncomplecated adults-only gathering, but I have some that would be weirded out if I brought the baby. Also, it's not your responsibility to baby proof your space, it's the parents responsibility to parent while they socialize if they choose to bring the baby with them. So yes, communication on both ends is key, but at the very, very least be honest that children are not welcome but extend the invitation anyway. 26 agree Reply Why don't you suggest doing stuff at her place? Or ask her how she feels about the whole thing. (With parents, I usually give a bunch of babysitting coupons as gift right at the beginning. If you do that, she is free to hang with others without child.) 8 agree Reply This is a good suggestion. My house is mid-renovations, with lots of hazards at the moment, so I let my friends with toddlers know that it's not safe for their little ones. Instead, I offer to come to them and bring morning/afternoon tea with me, so they don't have to worry about organising anything. If they say anything about the state of their house then I make sure that they know I don't care – I'm coming to spend time with them, not critique their housekeeping skills. Hell, I can barely keep on top of things without a kidlet, so I'm not going to judge! 2 agree Reply Im a firm believer in its the thought that counts see I have been excluded from many things by my non kid friends before asking if I could find a sitter (which thanks to my huge awesome offbeat family I always have one) and if I couldn't attend because of kids id say so. I was hurt and a lot of good friendships were ruined because of assumptions. also invite my non kid friends to kid/parent parties and let them know its a kid party because ive had non kid friends speak up about not being invited so I would say always invite and explain what the event is 4 agree Reply I'm with the people who said that new parents value the choice even if they can't make it; once the invitations stop coming, it's hard to feel like you're ever going to be able to reconnect. The full-time-care infant period seems just long enough to alienate women from their peers and just short enough for it to feel like it shouldn't have to. 6 agree Reply Instead of always inviting me and husband over knowing we wouldn't couldn't come, some of our friends started offering to come to us and cook at our home. It meant a bit of clean-up on our part, but the cooking part was handled by him and we got to spend time with our friends. Have you thought about suggesting you hosting the get together at her place? It does take some work getting mom to give up the hosting control, especially for someone like me. But it's such an awesome way to let her be involved more. Basically, mom needs to make sure the place is clean to her comfort level to have people over, but cooking and clean up afterwards lands on you or you and a friend so you're not burdening her. Of course you could offer to come over and clean before hand but that's a lot of commitment and work and understandably more than you'd really be able to do. But still, it's a nice meet in the middle. 3 agree Reply As a non-parent myself, I get discouraged when our parent friends continually turn down our invitations to come over to our house and I feel bad that our house is so inconvenient for them. But I'd love to bring food and come over to your house! That way your child gets to be safe in their own home, and we get to hang out. Or I'd love to do anything that my parent friends suggest that works for them and their children's needs. I want to retain our friendship too, and get to know the new little person. I just need an invitation first. I think non-parents sometimes give up doing the inviting, because we keep getting turned down don't get any invitations back from the parents. I have certainly felt this way. 1 agrees Reply I totally see where you're coming from, but what I've found is that as a parent, I don't think to call my friends and invite them like I used to. It's not that I don't think about them, it's that I think about them during the few minutes I get to myself, usually on my bike while commuting to/from work. By the time I get to work, the hubub of parking getting into the office, getting coffee and the morning going, I forget. As a result, I never end up talking to my friends like I'd like to. We didn't think up the idea of having our friend come over and cook. He actually came to us and suggested it. I was surprised, and excited. I'd never have thought of it at all, or if I had, I'd forget before I could suggest it. By having my friend "impose" by inviting himself over, it actually made us get together. TL;DR don't wait for the parents to invite you. They often won't or there will be long stretches between them doing so – not because they don't think about their friends, but because when they can think of their friends, they often can't talk to their friends. 🙂 1 agrees Reply I have a group of friends that is a mix of parents and non-parents. For a long time there was only one regular in the group who had kids and she was great about inviting us over and offering for things to be at her place. I can sometimes have them over and arrange some things to amuse her older daughter but now that her son is a toddler, she's admitted it's just easier to have us over. I still offered to host the latest gathering, but I was happy when she told me that it was easier for her to have us come over (and have to clean) than to come over to my house. So just ask her about having gatherings more often at her place and maybe offer to come over and help clean up or do potluck. We don't have a lot of adult-only gatherings these days but from the sounds of it, we might be trying to do that occasionally too. As one of the non-parents, I do appreciate it when my parent friends can arrange to just hang out sans children occasionally. I don't make a big deal of it because, obviously, I get that they love their kids and it can be way easier to have kiddos included rather than finding a sitter, but it's nice to not have to interrupt conversations for gooing over a new baby or the latest stories from older children. And I'm pretty sure that eventually the parents get to that point too. 1 agrees Reply It sounds like a lot of people are suggesting making invitations that explicitly lay out whether kids are also invited. I'm curious what everyone thinks about this… I've felt awkward about doing this when kids AREN'T invited – it feels rude, because I (and everyone involved) know that it means that parent friends are essentially not invited. 1 agrees Reply I'd say better to invite the parent friend and let them figure out whether to come without the kids, than to just not invite them from the get-go. Then they can decide whether it's feasible or worth it to get a sitter, or one parent can stay home and the other can go. 5 agree Reply There are ways you can do this without being rude or calling out your parent friends. If you're sending an e-mail or Facebook invite, the general one doesn't have to say, "No kids, please!" You can send a private message to your parent friends saying something like: "Hey, I wanted to let you guys know that the space isn't safe for kids. I know this may mean you can't come, but I wanted to make sure you were included." Note: it doesn't matter if the physical space is kid-unfriendly; if you simply don't want kids present, the "space" is not safe for kids. It helps to vary the gatherings if possible. If ALL your events aren't kid-friendly, your friends will feel rejected eventually. A few other points on this: – As a parent of a toddler, things that happen after about 7 pm are out for me anyway without a babysitter. So (depending on your friends; some people's kids stay up late and that's cool), you may not *have* to say "no kids" if it's a party that starts at 9 or 10. I would probably send my regrets – 10 is bedtime for me these days. But! I have friends who don't do this. In this couple, she is an extrovert and he's an introvert. He's perfectly content to stay home listening for a sleeping kiddo on a Saturday night so she can go out and party. It works for them. – For kid-friendly events, BRUNCH IS YOUR FRIEND. If you invite your parent friends over for brunch with kids mid-morning or late-morning, they'll be so much more likely to come. Or, do as above, and see if they're willing to host/let you host at their house. I love hosting brunch for my friends at my house. They come over at 10 and they're sleepy; I've been awake since 7, and I've got plenty of energy to make food. They're so appreciative of coffee & pancakes, and so is my two-year-old. Plus, kids tend to be a bit less wired in the morning than in the evening. 6 agree Reply I feel bad sometimes when I do invites and kids aren't invited. It's not that they're not invited because I don't like them, it's that the event is adult-oriented and the parents wouldn't want their kids there anyways. (I had a party where we BBQ'd and had a Rome marathon…while the BBQ part is kid-friendly…the Rome marathon is not). Or the time of the event doesn't work with bedtimes. My parent-friends don't take offense. They just reply yay or nay. Sometimes they can come out because they got a babysitter…sometimes they can't because one kid is projectile puking. It takes understanding on both sides. 1 agrees Reply how do you know they don't take offense? i would probably take offense but not say anything. Do you check with them about how they feel? Reply I was invited to a party that said, "family friendly until 9 pm. Adults only afterward." 2 agree Reply An engaged couple of friends of ours invited us to his birthday party when our daughter was maybe 5 months old. It started at like 6pm or something but they told us she wasn't allowed because their place wasn't baby safe. Where we live no one comes to a party until 2 hours after it's started. We hadn't seen him in like 6 months or a year (before she was born) and we really wanted to see him. Problem was, we're both their friends and all our friends are their friends and we don't have any family around to babysit, so going to the party would have cost us $50 just to spend a couple hours with them. If she was allowed, we would have come at 6 and been gone by 7 to get her in bed. She wasn't crawling yet or was still primarily held so "baby proof" wasn't necessary. We could have spent time with our daughter, time with our friends and not impeded on his grown up gaming party – we're their only friends with a kid. So they don't have the greatest understanding of what is and isn't safe for a baby. We were actually really upset – this was one of my oldest and best friends. We didn't go and since then we've not been invited to anything. When I have tried to invite them, they've been busy so it's hard to know if we're just not ok to be around anymore or what. TL;DR Honestly, it sucks being told you're invited but your kid isn't because in the end, it's kind of like saying Hey, we're having a party with all your friends, too bad you can't come. 1 agrees Reply This is exactly the kind of response I'm afraid of when I do these invites… especially because sometimes the reason kids aren't invited is something more like "I want to get through dinner without someone screaming" rather than "Duh, kids aren't invited to a midnight movie showing." I don't want to make my friends with kids feel unwelcome… but sometimes kids just aren't welcome. 🙁 2 agree Reply Did you ask them if it would work if you did as you suggested (come on time and then leave early to put your daughter to bed)? Maybe this option didn't occur to them, and they were thinking of your attending the party as an all-or-nothing thing. 1 agrees Reply I was one of the first in my friend group to have a baby, and it was so hard to figure out if it was okay to bring my daughter to things I was invited to. I always asked and was careful to say that it was fine if the answer was no, but I needed to know in order to make plans. People always seemed scared to offend me, but I was truly just trying to figure out if I could attend, if I needed a babysitter, etc. I have no problem with invitations that say "no kids please" as long as my friends don't take it as an insult if I can't always come. 1 agrees Reply Oh, please don't stop inviting her to things! I do suggest you talk to her and let her know your concerns about having the toddler over. Once I got pregnant, my husband I stopped getting invited to things because it involved a happy hour or wine tasting and once we had the kid, then it was even worse! I wish they would have kept inviting us because we do have access to a babysitter and if we didn't we would just let them know we appreciate the invite, but maybe next time. Reply The "can't" in your title really bugs me. It sounds like you mean well, but you've clearly put her in the "mom" box. Moms aren't their own breed. They are just people. Our society divides people into "parent" and "non-parent". It's just as difficult at times for those who don't have kids to fit in with groups of parents. If she WON'T hang out with you, then that's a different story. But I don't think there is any reason why she CAN'T. To that point, I don't really believe in babyproofing. I mean, yes, put the expensive glass vase on a high shelf and close the lid on the record player, but you can't possibly get rid of or put away everything that a child MIGHT break or hurt themselves on. Eventually, the child will find herself in a space that isn't made exactly for her, and I think she needs some idea of how to navigate and respect an area that isn't customized. In my opinion, babies are portable. They belong almost everywhere the parents want to be. In many cultures, the belief is that babies should conform to their parent's schedule, and we could use a bit more of that thinking in ours. So, yes, definitely keep inviting her. Do what you can to make your home less treacherous, and don't make her feel like you don't want her and her child there. Remember: the kid is going to fall, grab things, and get into stuff. But that's what they do wherever they go, and it's rarely a catastrophe. 13 agree Reply "The "can't" in your title really bugs me. It sounds like you mean well, but you've clearly put her in the "mom" box. Moms aren't their own breed. They are just people. Our society divides people into "parent" and "non-parent". It's just as difficult at times for those who don't have kids to fit in with groups of parents. If she WON'T hang out with you, then that's a different story. But I don't think there is any reason why she CAN'T." I'm glad I'm not the only one who noticed the use of the word "can't" in the headline and in the letter. Like people have mentioned, kids are portable, and even if there are limits to where and when your friend can do things, it doesn't seem fair to assume she can't do things anymore. As a soon-to-be-mom (9 days and counting!!), I'd be sad if friends stopped inviting me to do things because they didn't think I could go, or didn't want to because of the baby. Talk to her and let her set the pace. Find ways to get together. 1 agrees Reply I know someone who baby & kid proofed his house when he had his boys. No breakable plates or glasses. No breakable objects. No glass tables or anything around. Cabinets and drawers can't be opened. Everything in the house is safe for them to fling, throw, jump on, kick hit, whatever or at the least, it doesn't matter if it breaks. As a result, the kids can't be around anything of value. One of them saw a lamp for the first time and reached up and grabbed the light bulb wondering what it is thus burning his little hand. If there's a door or drawer that can be opened, they do and slam them closed. In contrast, while yes, I put my Glamdring sword away and other things that could actually do bodily harm (for now), fragile things all around our house and our daughter has learned to be gentle. Yes, some things I loved have been broken but she's learned from it and does her best to be careful. But there are no door and drawer locks and when my daughter goes to someone else's home, she can actually be trusted to get her own tablewear out, use a glass mug, hold delicate objects and not go where she's not allowed. 2 agree Reply Glamdring sword! 😀 Reply While not exactly the same, in college my roomate was in a wheelchair. I didn't invite her to things like going for a jog or a bike ride, because I assumed it would be a slap in the face to her since she physically couldn't participate. Only after rumors of me being a shitty roomate swirled around the dorm did I talk to her and she said she had felt left out. After that I invited her, even if I knew she wouldn't be able to come. Now, as a newish mom, I am having the same thing happen with my childfree friends. I try really hard to make it to things that they invite me to, but happy hour at 5pm with a 14 month old is HARD to pull off (and he's a well behaved munchkin). I've appreciated their willingness to talk to me about it, and try to find other fun and middle-ground ways of hanging out when I can't find childcare. The other friends who haven't made as much of an effort have gone by the wayside, though I hope we'll come back around when childcare isn't so difficult. 🙂 2 agree Reply I just had a conversation similar to this with new grad school friends recently – none of them have spouses or kids and we all love hanging out in and after class but after several happy hour invitations that I had to turn down one of them asked me point blank if I still wanted an invite. I appreciated this so much!! I was able to say that I loved being invited and express that it's difficult for me to do spontaneous evening get togethers. We decided both that they'll keep inviting me to the spontaneous stuff just in case it works and because I like it, with no hard feelings when I can't go and that we'll try to plan something a couple weeks ahead that I can plan to attend. But! I also think it's entirely possible that constantly turning down invites is depressing for your friend and she'd prefer something different. Either way talking about it and making space to express mutual care and surface feelings will help in making a plan! 1 agrees Reply Why can't you go to her place where things *are* baby-proofed and child-friendly? When my friends invite themselves over, I'm relieved and elated. I tell them to come after bedtime when I can enjoy a glass of wine, eat snacks, laugh and re-connect with my girlfriends all while being close to my baby and not have to get a sitter. 1 agrees Reply This is a really helpful insight for me – the after-bedtime thing. I've done a lot of extended evenings that ended with a game after the baby goes to bed but it hadn't occurred to me to suggest something that STARTED after bedtime. Thanks! 1 agrees Reply Yeah, I really appreciate when people come over to hang out after bedtime. My son goes to bed around 7 and when people come over at 6, for example, I basically get to hang out for 20 minutes and then it usually takes about an hour to go through the whole bedtime routine and putting to bed. Whereas, if they come over at 7:30, I'm relaxed and can spend the time focused on my friends, rather than on the fact that my little one is fighting sleep and I'm missing the party. 2 agree Reply I had some out of town friends come over just last night! They showed up around 9ish (baby in bed by 7:30) which gave me time to clean up (however, usually I just ask ppl to come around 8 and I buzz around cleaning up while we talk and catch up). We hung out in the basement, drank wine, laughed loudly and caught up until about 11:30 and then we all went to bed. It was fantastic! My friends also "get it" that I might not have snacks (unless they want goldfish crackers or applesauce 😉 so they might bring a little something or just come with nothing and that's fine! When I lived in a small condo where there was no basement to go to, I put a fan in my son's room and that helps to drown out some of the talking. Have fun!!! 1 agrees Reply Yesyesyes! My son is seven now but still goes to bed at 7.30 so we have friends over after he goes to bed. 1 agrees Reply Here's an alternative solution: Invite yourself to her place! Bring dinner or cook in her kitchen. Just move the party closer to where she can easily handle her child. Plus, she'll probably enjoy not having to cook!! 3 agree Reply I'm only halfway through my 1st trimester and this is something I worry about with my child-free friends. While they don't mind most children…they just prefer their gatherings child-free…which I can understand. They DO invite our parent-friends…so that's good. But sometimes I worry they would decline my invites because a baby might be present for a while. Reply I am going to echo what a lot of other people have said so far. Talk to her! Keep the invitations coming. And there is no reason her kid can't hang out at your place if you really do want her to be able to come. Semi-baby proofing isn't hard. I have huge bookshelves too, with breakables. I anchored the bookshelves to the wall (its easy, and also good for earthquakes and such) and put breakables at the top, viola! My toddler does pull the books off all the time, but oh well, she's a kid and does kid stuff. But she can come with me just about anywhere. I have friends with very non-baby friendly homes. We just take all the breakable liquor bottles off the bottom shelf, and keep a close eye on her. Also, I personally much prefer to have people come to my place as a parent. I don't really feel like I can "host" very well, but if my close friends come over and I don't feel the need to have the place totally clean, that is such a relief for me. My daughter can be on her home turf, and it's not nearly as stressful for me. Sometimes we have friends come over in the evenings and hang out, they play with her, we might order in sushi or something easy, then we play games and drink after she goes to bed. I am a parent, but I still want to socialize and spend time with my friend, and I have interests outside of my kid. But if childless/childfree friends want to spend time with me and not make me feel totally abandoned, a little more flexibility on their part is really necessary. I can still do lots of stuff, but spontaneous things are difficult. Just ask your friend what she wants and needs. 1 agrees Reply As a mum in a similar situation as your friend (ie most of my close circle is kidless) I can say the best thing was having the convesation in our group … putting out there was the best thing I could have done. went something like this – you know most times I am going to knock you back for tiredness reasons, or lack of baby sitting ops, but Im still keen to have the option either way, and I hope the after the millionth knock back you understand that on the millionth and first try I'll be there – with a hefty amount of bells on. Also it was much harder to get out when my kids were tiny babies, but much easier as they have gotten older. My partner and I take turns to go out with our friends and we make sure this happens regularly (which is not so different to when we were kidless – whilst we love going out as a couple we are still individuals). getting the balance is difficult but certainly not impossible. If your friend is a single parent that would add to the difficulty but if not Im sure as her child gets older it will be easier for them to have some kind of similar arrangement, and slowly but surely your friendship will evolve into something where you get to see each other in a really mutally convenient way … just takes patience. 1 agrees Reply I have invited myself over to friends with kid's houses even if they are not really close friends. I usually say, hey can I bring you dinner? And then eat dinner with them and do the dishes afterwards. Have done this with multiple parent friends. I seem to run into the opposite problem, where I assume the kids will be involved and maybe the parents wanted adult time. I was suggesting kid friendly restaurants and my friends said they were leaving the kids at home so we switched gears and went wherever we wanted! Reply Hi, OP here! Perhaps I should have emphasized more that "we see each other a lot outside of my apartment". I have definitely made an effort to suggest kid-friendly outings so she has adult time too. However, I do a lot of dinners and parties at home. A lot. I don't want her to feel like that kid in school who only heard about everyone else's sleepovers and birthday parties but wasn't invited. As for anchoring bookshelves, nothing has worked so far. I have no idea what our walls are made of but they have thus far resisted my friend's heavy duty tools that he uses for construction. I'm also afraid that anything that will go through the wall will destroy it and we'll lose the security deposit. I can tell my friends not to lean I guess I should have also given more background. As an Orthodox Jew, I can't join my coworkers for after work drinks on Friday nights but I always prefer to be invited. I would take this approach with my friend but she has been quite down about the fact that having a baby means forgoing a number of social events among a mostly child-free group of friends. I guess I should put my grownup trousers on and simply ask her if she has specific feelings about invites. Any suggestions for talking to her about that as well as her feeling left out? Actual phrasing would be greatly appreciated as I suffer from frequent attacks of foot-in-mouth. 1 agrees Reply RE suggestions: I think it would be nice just to be totally transparent about it, like: "Hey, you know that I love hosting dinners and parties at home, and that I love for you to be there — I don't always know if you can make it, but I was wondering if you'd rather be invited knowing that you can't come, or if you'd rather I not bring the events up." ALSO, I think it would be a great idea to make sure she knows that she can always ASK you what kind of plans you and the rest of your friends have — if she knows that you regularly host these parties and finds herself with a few hours of baby-free time, she should know that she can call you up, confirm that you're having a party, and get her happy self over! When my son was a young, I found it was so much easier for ME to call my friends and ask what they were up to when I found myself with a night to do whatever I wanted. I think it definitely goes both ways! 2 agree Reply A friend of mine is an ER doctor, and on the off chance she's not working she's usually too tired to go out, and I'm a new(ish) mom, so we almost never get to actually hang out. But we still invite each other to events all the time. If it's been a while since we actually managed to meet up, I'll say something like "I know this is short notice and it's hard for you to get away. If we don't see you, do you want to plan to get together for [dinner / lunch / drinks] next [week / month] ?" That way we can make sure there's some hang-out time that *does* fit her schedule. Also, because we have amazing friends, we've had a few of them actually come throw a dinner party at our place since theirs wasn't really baby friendly. It worked out great. She literally said "I really want to have y'all over for pot pie, but I know bringing the baby here is an issue, can I bring our friends over and cook you a pot pie?" It was incredible. 2 agree Reply We have a baby just starting to crawl and lots of childfree friends who we still hang out with on the regular- and they haven't changed their dangerous apartments either. In fact we just got back from an overnight visit to our friends on a rural farm where the farmhouse didn't have drinkable water, no bath available , had two angry cats, electrical sockets in tricky places and was in the middle of renovations. 100% baby deathtrap The way we have done this is as follows- 1) Our friends trust us to watch our own baby. The world is not childproof, I have to stop my little lady from killing herself in the grocery store, in the park, in the "not childproofed" parts of my own home, at the parent drop in centers for children of all ages, everywhere. So its no different at your apartment. 2) Our friends want to hang out with our baby too. Yup, thats the big one. If you are irritated that its not like "it used to be" or you are going to be grossed out when they change a poopy diaper on the floor or smear their food on your table- are you really trying to stay friends with them? My friends get that I might zone out from sleep deprivation, can't always follow the conversation, and sometimes have to leave early. It won't always be this way, but its fun for now. And on the up side, they can watch her while I pee/eat. 3) We limit most of our visits to shorter ones. If I walk over with baby in the stroller, leave her conked out for an hour while we sip tea and catch up- amazing! Visit done. Or you can walk with us back home. If I get there and she is awake, I stay as long as she will let me. 4) We don't fuck around with bedtime, unless we are over for a slumber party. Bedtime is serious stuff. S-E-R-I-O-U-S. And so not worth messing around with. So we politely decline if the party is going to mess with babies sleep time, or only show up for a cameo appearance and then take baby home for a nap. The other thing we have done is planned to stay the night and camped out on a living room floor/guest room and put little baby to bed at her proper time, leaving the evening for adults. These visits are amazing, but don't always work out (ie: Us having to leave with a really upset baby). Other times our baby has been hanging in her jolly jumper at a party where all the adults around her are enjoying her as the entertainment. 5) Our friends always hope we can come, even if they know we sometimes can't. Anyways, that is how we get down. But then our childfree friends are the shit. 1 agrees Reply THANK YOU for mentioning #2. I'm child free but at this point a lot of my friends in the US have kids. Admittedly it's different because usually I go back and email everyone to see where I can crash for that visit, and then make plans from there. But the truth is, my friends are my friends. I care about what's going on with them. If that includes kids then YES I want to know about and get to know the kids too. So yes we can hang out at your house, and yes we'll work around nap schedules or go to a kid friendly restaurant, and yes I'd love to stay at your place even if the kids might cry and yes I'll check to see how I can best fit in with how your family works while I'm with you. As for the original poster, she seems to spend plenty of time with her friends out of her home. But if the shelves and stuff are the problem and not kid behaviors, then attach the shelves to the wall, put the most fragile stuff out of reach, and let your friends know what they're dealing with when they come over, and be ok with them finding their own ways to deal with it. And don't be afraid to occasionally step in if you think your stuff is in danger. Usually mom will get there first anyway. Isn't it better to have 45 minutes with your friends before the kiddo gets antsy than nothing at all? It seems like parents face plenty of rejection, we child-free friends can suck it up and deal with a little too. Just because getting a babysitter doesn't work for them right now doesn't mean they don't love us. We need to keep reaching out. And we can also suck it up and deal with a little uncertainty. Yes the kid may cry, but he may sleep most of the time too, or play happily and safely. Parents are constantly working to accommodate everyone's needs… we child-free friends need to be willing to grow up a little bit too and take on some of the responsibility of communicating and accommodating if we want to maintain our friendships. I trust my friends to parent their kids, which may include opting out or leaving early if need be, and ultimately my friendships are more important to me than the chance that something might go wrong or the kid might be cranky one time. The baby and toddler years are short, friendships shouldn't be. 2 agree Reply Oh, and, it helps parents a lot to know what their kids CAN touch. So have some ideas ahead of time of some things you can offer. Plastic, lightweight metal, and wooden kitchen items are good, like spoons, bowls, tupperware. I loved opening and closing my mom's steamer when I was little. A half-full water bottle is mesmerizing, and a tupperware with dried beans in it makes a good rattle. My partner's toddler brother once spent an hour putting dried black beans through the holes of a plastic grater. Tennis balls, pillows, blankets… Having safe items available will help avoid constant "no"s and temper tantrums, and let your friends spend more time talking to you while kiddo explores the fascinating new items. 2 agree Reply I love when people make specific plans, extra-love them when they're made in advance, and I love when they are understanding that some kids are more unpredictable than others. Sometimes he'll sit nicely with a coloring book, sometimes we'll have to cut the visit short because he slept poorly the night before. When people understand it always isn't as simple as, "Sure, we'll be there," it's wonderful. Some friends of ours have a "kids are like pets" mentality. Ask before you bring it, don't bring it if it won't sit still, and keep it under control cause GOD, we don't have these things FOR A REASON. That vibe is super clear, and kind of understandable, and even if I don't judge them for it, I can't afford to put much time into friendships where that's the case, cause these kids aren't going anywhere. Even if your house is unsafe, there are measures you can take to make it safer *if you are so inclined.* Tethering kits are cheap and easy to install to keep the shelves upright, for example, and some plastic outlet plugs that you keep handy for when someone small is coming over, speak volumes to the parents/caretakers. You can snag a laundry basket or cardboard box and toss some safe household objects in for the kiddo to explore… a soda bottle with popcorn kernels in it, a whisk, and an empty squirt bottle (sounds, funny shapes and moving parts) and you're in business. Above all, getting down on the kiddo's level to explore the space with them, and teach them the "right" way to interact with things is the best option, even if you have to sacrifice some visit-time to do it. That's how they learn to do it, after all, and that's how they'll learn to be safe in your home while mom/dad visits. I love when my friends treat my son like a guest to be included and introduced to their home and their friends, instead of an added factor. 2 agree Reply When I hear that the 'place isn't childproof', I automatically assume that it means I will need to watch my child as they explore not that they can't come. I think it will need to be specified which one it is when an invite is made. 2 agree Reply So many good suggestions–and it really saddens me to hear of the moms who have felt left out or forgotten because their friends stopped inviting them to things after they had a baby. I've been on both sides of this issue… a friend of mine had a baby and retreated from our entire circle of friends, simultaneously implying we were guilty of leaving her out (there were also a lot of other issues though, such as a terrible relationship with the baby's father, choosing to defend him and overlook all of the problems even after complaining about him to us, etc.) I think she found it was easier to tell herself we didn't understand and cut ties than face the reality of the choices she'd made and how unhappy she had become. We could only reach out so much before it was clear our invitations weren't welcome. In this case, sadly, it seems as if this was just the time our friendship had come to a close. We're all still on good terms but certainly not real friends anymore. On the other hand, a few years after all of this happened and I had a baby myself, we all worried what that might mean for our very close friendships. I'm happy to say that even though my social life was no doubt affected, it wasn't eradicated because I've made the effort to be flexible with my baby (now toddler) and my friends all made efforts to be flexible with what we all did together. Sometimes I'd bring my daughter with me, if it was appropriate (book night with wine at a friends' house=appropriate. Live band at the bar=inappropriate 🙂 or sometimes I'd have family or other friends watch her for me. It's harder now that she's so much more mobile and independent, but taking turns with my husband (if that's an option for her) about being able to go out helps, and asking friends and family to watch her also helps. I'm always careful not to ask for too much (don't always ask the same person to babysit, or too often) but found that often times people fight over who gets to watch her because everyone loves the time they get to spend with her alone. I always remember that it is still a favor though, and as thanks I bring a bottle of wine or order their choice of takeout for anyone who is watching her during dinner time. Bottom line is, you can find a balance between friends and kids if everyone puts in just a bit of extra effort and thoughtfulness. Communication is key so be honest about your concerns and listen to your friend's concerns too, so you can come up with solutions that'll work for everyone. 1 agrees Reply best advice my mom ever gave me… "don't say no for someone else" not inviting her is saying no. it always feels good to be asked, even if the person knows you may have to say no. it feels a lot better to say "no but thank you" than it does to just feel rejected. 1 agrees Reply Join the conversation Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *Comment Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Subscribe me to your mailing list No-drama comment policy Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy.