It’s Okay If You Don’t Enjoy Moms’ Night Out

When my first child was born, I joined a local moms’ support group. One of the big things everyone kept going on and on about was moms’ night out and its importance for keeping mom sane, having fun, enjoying “me” time, saving the planet, and promoting world peace.

Okay, maybe not those last two. But, they certainly made a huge deal about it.

So, when Agent E was three months old, I gave it a try. And I absolutely hated it.

Darkened shadow outline of a mountain at sunset.

I came home {early} to a hysterical baby who wouldn’t take a bottle and simply missed her mommy. I tried attending moms’ night out again two more times over the course of the next couple of years. While the second attempt turned out okay—toddler Agent E did fine with Dad and Momma didn’t have a panic attack—I came home {early, again} from the third attempt to nurse baby Agent J. 

To sum: I did not have fun, I missed my baby as if a part of my own body were cut off, and I spent the entire evening uneasy. This was early in my mothering and a lot of my parenting philosophy hadn’t really come together yet. I assumed the problem was me.

Why Did I Feel This Way?

I felt guilty for having gone, and more guilty for coming back. Every message I had received insisted I had to leave my baby, I had to teach her to get along without me, I had to do this for myself. This was great for moms and I needed it! Right? Why didn’t this work for me? Why wasn’t I looking forward to this? What was wrong with me?

Turns out, nothing. It’s just how I’m wired: I am an attachment parenting introvert, and I erroneously let other people define that as a character flaw.

I always assumed that being an introvert meant you didn’t like to be with people, and being an extrovert meant you did. It made perfect sense that I wasn’t that into mom’s night out as an introvert, but there was more to it. I don’t dislike being with people. I enjoy family gatherings, small group discussions, meeting other moms at the park, and joining friends for coffee. However, that’s not how I energize myself when I’m feeling low.

Being an introvert versus an extrovert is more about how you refuel when you need to recharge your batteries. Somehow I had managed to find myself in a group of extroverts who thrived on being able to go out once a month {or more} for moms’ night out and let loose, have a few glasses of wine, and be part of a big group in a festive atmosphere. 

However, I much prefer to schedule get-togethers with one person {or just a few people} during the day. I am not a night person. I don’t drink. Crowds make me shudder. This wasn’t fun for me; it was something I endured due to outside pressure. 

Combine this disdain for the partying atmosphere with an attachment style of parenting, and you have a basic recipe for a moms’ night disaster.

I absolutely hated leaving my babies at night. It did not make me feel energized or like I finally had a break. It made me feel worse, and ignored my own self-care needs. 

What Do I Do Instead?

Even now—with my “babies” currently 13, 11, and almost 9—I still  prefer to be home in the evenings. When I do go out later than usual, I don’t feel recharged—I feel on edge and restless. I need “reset” time, just like every mom does, but in a different way. 

When the Agents were little, I would arrange breaks that didn’t involve me leaving them completely, such as having a mother’s helper come to the house so I could feel productive in some other room while the kids played. I did occasionally enlist the help of close friends with children of similar ages, leaving to run an errand for just a short bit while they were distracted. I never made it a goal to “make” them stay without me for any arbitrary reason.

Now that the kids are older and I have the benefit of hindsight, I no longer worry about what I “should” be doing, and that includes declining invites for moms’ night out. I do the things that help me {not any other mom} to refocus and enjoy parenting with a clear, relaxed mind. 

My self-care methods have changed now that I am not longer in the thick of babies and toddlers and the Agents are more independent. I get up early to have some quiet time for reading, writing, and thinking. When I meet with friends it is during the day, not in the evening, and certainly not near the time I’d be normally going to sleep. I arrange mom/kid meet ups with one or two other families at a time, and avoid big, organized events.

Of course, I make exceptions. I go out. Sometimes even at night and to places that I know will be filled with people. I stay awake {and out} too late on vacation. It’s not that I never socialize after dark. I just choose to minimize these times, and honor my limitations.

Self-care will look different for every parent, and that’s okay.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. If you enjoyed this post, I would love to connect with you on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest.

This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. I never realized this until I read this post, but I am the same way! I would much rather stay home with my kiddos and have people over with their kids to play, then hang out at a restaurant or bar with other mammas. You are right, we are constantly told that we need to get out to have time to hang with other adults, but that can look so different for everyone. Thanks for sharing this!

    1. Valerie

      I am so glad it resonated with you, Kristen. I will pop over and check out your blog! Thanks for visiting.

  2. I felt the same way! I loved being with my family and any free time I wanted to spend with my husband! I had fun with my friends but my heart was always at home with those I loved the most.

    1. Valerie

      I have always been that way, too, I guess. For me it just sort of intensified whenever my kids were born. Thank you so much for stopping by, Patti.

  3. I remember trying to go out with my husband when the kids were little for date night and worrying the entire time. Not fun at all. I’m with you on the mom’s night out thing. I say no. It’s just not my thing. It doesn’t recharge me (same as you), and then the next day effects are not fun. I’m ok with a couple friends, but not the crowds! Totally get it.

    1. Valerie

      Sometimes I find it difficult to express to extroverts in my life just how much I would rather be at home. Like, I love being at home with my peeps. Truthfully, if I need time for self-care, I’d prefer getting up at 5:00 a.m. to going out at 5:00 p.m. any day. Thank you so much for stopping by, Jenny.

  4. I am an extravert but I still feel the same as you about going out. It’s just not my jam. I’m a morning person, not a night owl – I enjoy seeing friends during the day or for dinner at the latest. My body and mind literally start to shut down around 9 pm and if I’m “out” that’s not fun for me, trying to fight to stay awake. My best friendship time is actually 5:45 am when a group of friends and I get together to walk or run! It’s way better, for me, than trying to be social after dark. I like to be home with my fam in the evenings and all night!

    1. Valerie

      I so much prefer to go to bed at 9:00 and be up before 5:00. I can’t function long-term any other way. I make exceptions when we travel, but that’s about it. I am also just a tried and true morning person. Thanks for stopping by, Lara!

  5. Your post and the comments are making me feel more normal, something I usually don’t worry about. I went out in the evening this past January with a group of long time friends who were all shocked I came. I see them all the time but only in the daytime.

    1. Valerie

      Same. When I show up at evening events, it’s like, whoa, you do exist. 😉 Thanks for reading. Glad you were able to relate.

  6. I am an introvert and prefer to stay at home with my books and blogs. I always feel guilty of not attending night parties or any thing or coming back early, but now it’s feel like there’s nothing to be sorry or feel guilty about. This is who I am, a day person and as friend say me a book-worm. Lol! I started taking that as a complement!! Thanks for this awesome post!

    1. Valerie

      Absolutely do not feel guilty for being true to who you are. ❤️

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