This may sound familiar:
"On today's to-do list, assemble three lunchboxes, iron grey suit, conference call at 11, presentation at three, get an oil change at the garage, hit the gym, make supper, supervise homework, and on and on -- and on. Oh, and if there's any free time, must remember to reply to e-mails from friends. Really should get together soon -- put it on the to-do list."
With more and more items on our ever-increasing to-do lists, keeping up with friendships seems to regularly get bumped to the bottom of the priority pile. We think we don't have time, but the truth is time with our friends is as essential as brushing our teeth -- having a support system, someone to listen to you vent, as well as sharing your ups and downs, goes a long way to keeping us sane.
Don't let your list overcome your time with friends. Pencil them in, make an appointment and keep it like you would any other obligation. More and more women are ensuring that nurturing friendships is a 'to-do' by creating a regular lifestyle-friendly way to get together.
There are ladies who lunch, and then there are the ladies who brunch. "The weekend is more relaxed, and with all our gabbing, our brunches usually last a few hours," says Jane, 38, whose monthly brunch dates with eight of her girlfriends have special significance. "One of our group succumbed to breast cancer recently, and we realized the importance of being in each other's lives. I look forward to it every month." Get your group together over some eggs benedict and consider it multi-tasking -- hey, you have to eat, right?
Sweat it out
Trudging on the treadmill alone can be a drag, but if you're speed-walking and gossiping, the cardio room suddenly becomes a whole lot more appealing. Lauren, 26, says her 'workout dates' are a necessity, for more reasons that one. "I go for runs with two of my friends, or we'll meet at the gym, it's the time we spend together," she says. "We get to spend time together, and we push each other, so we work out harder together than I would alone." We already knew friendships were great for our mental health, but having a gym buddy has the added bonus of healthy body benefits.
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Join the club
When we were younger, the most exclusive clubs were formed on the playground or after school. Being a club member gave you a link to a group -- you belonged. As adults, clubs are still a huge part of our social life, albeit not in a make-or-break kind of way. Dinner of the month clubs -- where friends gather for meals on a house-rotating schedule -- and book clubs provide an easy excuse to get together on an ongoing basis. Stephen, 56, joined a pre-existing men's book club formed by some envious husbands. "My understanding is that a number of them were married to women in a book club and decided, well, if it was good for them, it would be good for the boys, too," he says. "Although we all spend a good deal of time talking about the book du jour -- whether we've finished it or not, whether we liked it or not -- the real business of the evening is just enjoying one another's company." The ‘purpose' of forming a club is not the book, or the dinner, but rather having a set get-together date.
The benefits of spending time with your friends are endlessly varied, depending on each individual's needs, but no matter what you do or who you do it with, most of us would agree that having a buddy is well worth an extra check on the to-do list. So make a regular date and mark it on your calendar. It's so much more fun to put a check beside 'date with friend' than 'spring-clean closets'.
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