I Don't Want To Hang Out With My Friends' Kids, But I Don't Want To Lose My Friends

Dear Because I Said So,
I am in my mid-30s, and many of my friends now have small or medium-sized children who need constant supervision. I don't have kids. I enjoy other people's children enough, but sometimes I just want to have a glass of wine at a bar with my buddy and not have to worry about a toddler underfoot. I feel awkward asking to hang out with my friends without their kids around, since I know how expensive childcare is. What is the best way to request some "adult time" without making my friends feel like I'm asking them to sacrifice a ton of money and undertake a logistical nightmare to hang out with me? — Childfree
Dear Childfree,
Besides maybe performing open-heart surgery on a conscious grizzly, there is nothing more stressful than kids in a restaurant or bar. Even if you adore them, they always do something horrible like shout about what’s happening in their diaper or cry when the cheese isn’t yellow enough. Even if they are good, it’s kinda bad. Last time I took my kids to a real restaurant, they were angels, except I noticed my toddler was rubbing his chips on the wall and then eating them. I ignored him and drank my delicious margarita. That night, he woke up screaming, “DERE IS SOMEFING WRONG WIF MY BUTT!” I grabbed him and took him to the bathroom where he unleashed a torrent of diarrhea. In conclusion, childfree booze is the best kind of booze, and you cannot be blamed for wanting it.
Here is what you do: Text your friend something like, “Are you able to escape your loving family for drinks or dinner with me sometime? Let me know what time works best!”
That communicates your need for kid-free time and also gives her the power of scheduling. If she responds, “Can little Kale come with us?” You are well within your powers of friendship to say, “I was hoping for one-on-one time. Need help finding a sitter, or can we reschedule?” Your next resort would be to suggest going over to her place after Kale & Company are in bed.
Sitters are expensive, but they are also part of having kids. And scheduling is hard, but hard just comes with the territory, pretty much from Day 1. Parents know this. It’s not your fault, and it’s not shitty or selfish of you to ask for some one-on-one time.
Here's the real secret: Parents like to leave their kids from time to time. If a parent tells you they don’t ever want a break from their kids, they are a liar and the truth is not in them. If you're planning a night out sans kids and offering it up to them, that's almost like if they whisked you off to a weekend in Tulum without so much as asking them to collaborate on a Google spreadsheet for planning. It's a gift, a luxury, and they very likely will be relieved (if not flat-out ecstatic) that you suggested leaving the kids behind.
My best friends in the whole wide world do not have children. I love them for this. I can talk to them about kid stuff without feeling like they are being competitive or judging me. They never say, “Treasure this time while they are little.” In fact, they never say “treasure” except in reference to actual pirates. We get tipsy together and watch bad TV, and it restores my soul. So I can go home and, you know, treasure things. So, don’t be afraid to ask. It might be exactly what she wants.
If you ask, and ask, and just can't ever find a child-free moment together, you may need to accept that this isn't the right season in your friend’s life for one-on-one time. We’ve all got our seasons when we can give and our seasons when we need to hide in a hole and watch Netflix in a semi-catatonic state, whether it is brought on by birthing a child, going through a breakup, or tax time (you know that one accountant friend who just goes MIA?). If your friend is tapping out, extend her the grace of accepting that her kid, for now, is part and parcel of the deal and adjust your plans accordingly. Meet her with her kid when you’ve got the requisite goodwill. Say “no” when you need a kid break. And know that she will come back to you when she can.
So what I am saying here is, know your worth as a friend. Don’t be afraid to ask for some time with your friend, but be prepared to have your next drink on the couch at her place, if this isn’t the right time for her to spirit away.
Love and childfree booze,
Because I Said So
Welcome to Mothership: Parenting stories you actually want to read, whether you're thinking about or passing on kids, from egg-freezing to taking home baby and beyond. Because motherhood is a big if — not when — and it's time we talked about it that way.

More from Wellness


R29 Original Series