Updated 30 June 2014

Losing it? How to stay in touch

Where can you find the time to see your friends? They are the extended families of the 21st century and form an important part of our support structure.

On a normal Friday afternoon you feel as if you’ve spent the week in a wind tunnel, with added blast. Between working, keeping a marriage going and carting around the kids, you feel as if seven years meditating in a cave in the Himalayas might just get you back to a state of calm.

Where can you find the time to see your friends? And let’s face it, without friends, our lives would be really miserable. They are the extended families of the 21st century and form an important part of our support structure.

Kathy’s mother is dying, Bernie has a new boyfriend, Estella is pregnant again and Winnifred not only got a new job, but won R20 000 in the lottery. They all need to see you and you need to find the time to see them. Besides, none of them has heard your story about the attempted break-in at your house, the new Rottweiler you bought and your planned camping trip to the South Coast.

Ten ideas on keeping in touch

  • Organise to see each other on outings you both have to make anyway, such as taking the kids to the library or for their swimming lessons. Usually you sit around there, bored, waiting for them. Now you can use the time to chat to your friend.
  • Have standing dates – even if it is only once a month. Lunch the first Tuesday of the month, even if it is during your or her lunch hour.
  • Telephones are handy things. If you phone after 7 pm, it is also cheap and you can catch up with four people in an hour. A quick call is a good way to stay in touch. Sometimes it is a good idea to say, “I can chat to you for 10 minutes, but then I have to run to an appointment.” In this way friends will know they have to get to the point. Wait until the kids are in bed, otherwise you will be interrupted continuously.
  • Babysit together. When you are both stuck with the children, then you might as well do it together.
  • E-mail is wonderful. It is quick and easy and immediate and you never have the experience of discovering an unsent letter in the drawer six months later.
  • A fax is also sometimes a wonderfully quick way of communicating, especially when you really don’t have time to chat. People sometimes just want to know that you have not forgotten them.
  • Join book clubs or do painting lessons with your friends. Then you can manage to do two things at once.
  • Learn to say when it does not suit you to chat. Offer to contact them later when it is more convenient. There is nothing worse than a chattering friend when you have a deadline looming.
  • Give your cellphone number only to a few people and tell them that they should only use it for emergencies, not for chatting. That way you know that when it rings, it really is urgent.
  • Organise a regular evening off for yourself, on which a babysitter comes in, or your husband looks after the children. Tell your friends which evening it is and make arrangements accordingly.

(Susan Erasmus, Health24)


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