1. I was too tired to get ready. I don't mean the kind of "boy I could sure use a few extra hours of sleep" tired. I was the "my bones literally ache inside my body which is filthy because I can't remember the last time I took a decent shower" kind of tired.
2. I was nursing and was needed every few hours. It's hard to consider a night on the town when you're covered in spit-up, swollen, changing nursing pads every few hours, and wondering "why won't this
3. I felt frumpy. Nothing fit right. Everything was too tight or in a pile of laundry somewhere needing washing or folding or both. My roots had grown out, my nails were unpainted, and thanks to raging hormones, my skin was a hot mess.
4. I was not entirely certain the baby would be safe alone. Regardless of the caregivers available (husband, family, neighbors), when I was not home, I assumed the baby was essentially alone. I didn't see anyone else racing up the stairs if the baby's breathing wasn't loud and clear through the monitor. Anything could happen while our non-rolling newborn lay in his crib (devoid of all baby bumpers, soft toys, blankets, etc., because a baby could suffocate, you know?).
5. I was nervous about normal, adult, social interaction. Could I manage a conversation that didn't revolve around what baby ate or how often he pooed? The only current events I'd concerned myself with were doctor visits, diaper supply levels, and traffic reports (for the love of Pete, when was daddy ever coming home?).
Still, somehow, in those early days, I managed to get out (thank you, Serina Armstrong, Heather McGilvray, and Carol Gilbert - to name a few of my early co-conspirators). Even now, eight years later, I still cherish my mom's nights out and feel they are essential to my well-being and effective parenting [effective parenting - ha, ha!]. For any mommas with little ones who might possibly read this and question, if it's really worth all the effort…Let me assure you, it is!
Here are some ground rules: (I'm all about the lists tonight.)
1. Get.out.of.the.house. Don't have mom's night out at someone's house. Then she will have to clean it. No fair. Make a reservation somewhere. Anywhere without a drive through will do (it's likely you've spent enough time in those places already). Spearhead this sucker. If you don't do it, it might not happen. I don't care if you don't know how many are coming. Just make a big reservation (you can always adjust numbers later).
2. Make sure it's late. I'm not talking midnight, but it needs to be late enough for your husband to be home for awhile before you leave. Remember, you need a real shower (one long enough to cut through the forest growing on your legs).
3. Invite lots of new mommy friends. Call up (don't text) the ones you met in the hospital new parents group or at the park or at swim lessons. The ones you meet in the swim lessons particularly need to get out. I know, because I was one. A baby is not going to know how to swim or learn anything about water safety at 5 months old. Those lessons are for the parents. The ones who need to get out of the house. Yes, baby likes to splash in the water, but he can do that in the tub at home. For goodness' sake, invite those moms out already! If you invite them and they don't come, don't feel rejected. They are probably just exhausted.
4. Get ready. This is the fun part. Lock the bathroom door and really get ready. Like the kind you did when you were dating. There is something about going out with a group of women (whom you know also spent time getting ready) that makes you want to take things up a notch. You want to feel cute. Try on a few outfits until you find one you actually like (or at least don't despise). Blow dry your hair. Apply your make-up in a real mirror (not the van's rear view mirror). Put on some bright lipstick. Remember, you were a woman before you were a mom. She's in there somewhere! Pull her out, just for tonight.
5. Now hop in that minivan, crank up the music, and sing like no one is listening. Because they're not! You are alone. In the van. Alone!!! No tiny little eardrums to worry about. Savor this freedom before you cruise to your destination.
6. Carpool. I can't overemphasize the importance of this one - which means some moms won't get to do #5 - sorry. It's really like going on a date. I get absolutely giddy with excitement when I carpool on a girls' night out. We laugh and sing and tell stories. We feel like, well, girls. Then, when the night is over, it's not really even over until the last person is dropped off.
7. Ban gossip. You can't ban talk about your children (I've tried; not possible). But you can refuse to gossip about any adults. You can simply do this yourself or you can introduce it as a group rule. It might sound really weird, but when your new friends realize you won't say nasty things about others, they can trust that you won't say nasty things about them when they are not around. It is so freeing and encouraging to be around a group of loving, supportive moms.
8. Be yourself! As a new mom, or as a mom of any newborn (whether it's her 1st or 4th), it is so easy to lose yourself in the daily tasks of completely caring for the life of another individual. Try to remember who you were before baby. Talk about what your hobbies used to be (even if you don't have time for them right now). You are a great mom, but you are more than just mom. Everyone wants to be known deep down. Share a bit of yourself, and pay attention as others do the same.
9. Take pictures. Let's be brutally honest here. You haven't looked this good in weeks, and you likely won't again for some time to come. Also, it's probably going to be awhile before you get to go out again (see the first list). Take some pictures already! Post of Facebook, text your husband, tell the world! When you're at home feeling lonely or frumpy or both, you can pull out your phone and scroll through them and smile.
10. Go home and check on your kids. Kick off those heels, tiptoe upstairs, and check to make baby is still breathing. Who knows? If all is well, you may actually decide to do this again!