I’ve been through this cycle enough times as a stay-at-home mom to know it’s easy to feel stuck in a house with kids who are going wild and there seems to be nothing to do and nowhere to go. These are the times I’m forced to stare at the same spots in the house that need some love — the dishes, the laundry, the floors, or even bigger projects like an ugly bathroom, missing drywall, or a room that needs painted — and I feel like I’m losing my mind. It’s a cycle that just continues to spiral year after year, and I find myself feeling trapped and needing to get out of my head… but how?
Now, I’m a total extrovert, but it doesn’t take being an extrovert to know we all need relationships. All it takes is some time with a friend to change your entire disposition —am I right? A smile, a hug, a sweet conversation — those are the moments that get you through life — and this is the time to capitalize on that. If you want to make it through the winter, then you need to be intentional about being with people — otherwise you’ll never make it to summer with your sanity in tact.
The bigger question though is “What in the world is there to do?” Summer is full of cookouts and parks and playgrounds, but once winter hits and the weather gets crummy it seems daunting just to leave the house — getting the kids dressed, with socks AND shoes AND coats AND gloves AND hats — and don’t forget the diapers, wipes, snacks, bottles, etc. If you’re going to put in the work to get the kids ready and loaded in the car then it has to be worth it and, let me tell you friend — it is… if you have a mama friend to join you.
Join a Mom Group — Virtual or In Person
Every mama needs a tribe — those fellow mom friends that get you, that are in the thick of potty training and tantrums and navigating nap times just like you are. These women are the lifeline you’ll need during these dreary months.
If you don’t have any mom friends, it’s time to find some. Join the Facebook group Wednesday Morning Playgroup. This group meets every Wednesday at 10 a.m. and is a fantastic way to meet fellow moms and their kids. They meet all over Northeast Ohio at different spots — some things cost a little, some are free — and you can join in any day. It’s the perfect way to get to know other ladies at the same stage in life as you are.
My favorite way to get my friends together is to host them at my house for a playdate. Mornings typically work best to avoid interfering with nap times, and a 10 a.m. start time tends to work best, too — not too early in the day, yet it gives you enough time together to make it worth the effort! Include lunch if you can — fruits & veggies, cheese & crackers, and chicken nuggets & mac ‘n cheese go a long way with littles — or have everyone contribute something. You could even have everyone bring their own lunches to make it super easy!
Play Indoors (not at home) Ideas
But if hosting friends at your house doesn’t appeal to you, no problem! Here are a few of my favorite indoor activities to go to with my fellow mom friends:
Above the Barre Tiny Tumbles Open Gym – Berea
Invite your friends to chat while your kiddos expel all their pent up energy — I’ve never seen my 4 year old so exhausted! Balance beams, foam pit, trampolines — how can you go wrong? Worth the $8/child ($5 if you’re a member). This open gym is designed for ages 5 and under and happens every Friday throughout the season.
Preschool Playdates — Brunswick
Hope Church in Brunswick will be hosting preschoolers and their parents once a month in their children’s wing to give kiddos a space to play from 10 a.m.-11 a.m. I took my kiddos to this pre-COVID and they absolutely loved it, and it doesn’t cost anything! They provide so many spaces for the littles to have fun and be creative — not to mention it’s another great way to meet other moms!
Kiddie Jungle – Parma, Lyndhurst, and Mentor
Kiddie Jungle is that place I keep in my back pocket when the days seem to get longer and longer and my patience gets shorter and shorter. It’s the perfect place for kids 7 and under to play for hours — it’s also incredibly clean and has a row of comfy couches that are perfect for watching your kids while simultaneously enjoying the company of friends. At $13/child (+$11/child after that) it’s an excursion… but worth it!
Time Without the Kiddos is OK
Let’s be honest though — sometimes we need time with friends without kids, and the best way I’ve found to do that is to get together after the kids are in bed. If your partner is able to stay home, perfect! If not, find someone who would be fine with sitting on the couch while your kids sleep, like a family member or trustworthy teenager. I’m grateful my kids go to bed early, but, even if your kids don’t fall asleep until later, it’s worth the effort.
Invite a friend to grab ice cream or coffee together — if there aren’t any ice cream shops near you open late, opt for a grocery store with a sitting area. Sometimes all it takes it getting a little creative to give you a much-needed break and add some sanity back into your life.
My point in all this is to encourage you to be intentional with seeking and fostering friendships, especially in these lonely months. Someone once told me “Relationships define your life,” and that’s quite a statement! If you don’t have fun, uplifting, sanity-saving relationships with people, then you’re missing out. It’s also worth mentioning that not everyone knows how to be a good friend, so resolve to be the one who initiates. Be the one who invites friends and their kids into your home. Be the one who asks a friend to tag along.. Be the one who reaches out to see if your friend wants to grab coffee with you. It’s worth the effort, ladies! Because we all need it — we all need friendships.