It’s on! Plan a NOCO trip with friends

As a busy mom, sometimes friendships come last, after work, after kids, and after spouses. Yet our female friendships are vital for our emotional health. When women hang out together, oxytocin is released in our bodies, lowering our stress and boosting our immunity. No doubt, hanging out will provide a few chances to laugh over something that happened or reframe a stressful moment in your life. A good laugh lowers your blood sugar and helps your brain manage stress hormones better. You don’t need any more proof to know that girlfriend time is valuable time.

The beauty of girlfriend get togethers is that you don’t need a crowd, just a few good friends will do—especially those that encourage you to be your candid, relaxed self. Summer’s a great time to sneak in a night or weekend away with a friend, or even just a long afternoon. It’s also a good time to set regular plans, before the school year gets started and kids’ schedules start to dominate your life. Here are a few ideas to get you rolling!

Take a class together

Ask your best friend or a friendly neighbor to join you in taking a class of mutual interest. Maybe you always wanted to try pottery, jewelry making, painting, or cake decorating. Check out your city’s recreation classes, local library offerings, and other nonprofits, like the Creative District of Fort Collins, which connects you with a ton of small art, dance, music and theatre options.

Get out of town, but not too far

The perfect getaway for a night or weekend is Estes Park, offering ample activities from strolling and shopping and dining to hiking a 14er. The YMCA of the Rockies offers affordable cabins, lodge rooms and yurt accommodations. If you want, you can even make it a combined girlfriend/kid adventure, where kids can enjoy the pool and grounds or take a fun class together as you sit on the sidelines and relax. Estes Park is an hour from Fort Collins and just about an hour and a half from Greeley.

Another option is spending the night in a hotel in Boulder or Denver and hitting consignment shops and art districts. Exploring a city together is a great bonding experience and is bound to offer some good laughs along the way. You can also plan it around an event, like a concert or play.

Plan a weekly date

Let’s face it. Getting away from our kids helps us appreciate them more when we return, refreshed from some stimulating adult time. Yet, it’s so easy to let friendships slide and get replaced by the busyness of life. Having a set day and time on the schedule—whether it’s weekly or monthly—will help you stay committed. It can be anything, from a yoga or Pilates class at the gym, a hike in the foothills, a shopping outing, or a happy hour. It doesn’t really matter what it is, just that you do it, regularly.

While together try to simply enjoy each other, but likely your conversation will come around to the kids. That’s okay. It gives you a chance to bounce off parenting concerns or techniques, which can alleviate a sense that you are going it alone. Hearing yourself talk and reason, and getting reassurance and ideas back, gives you confidence to be your best parent.

If you are not ready to commit to a regular get together, or you tend to be the more spontaneous type, take advantage of meetings that come naturally, like talking with another mom during soccer practice—even suggesting a walk around the park while the kids play—or making time after school pick-up to hang out and talk with moms on the lawn or playground. However you can, sneak in time with women friends. You’ll feel more balanced and relaxed for it, and life will simply be more fun.