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How can I help my friend come out to play with baby around?
December 27, 2013 2:57 PM   Subscribe

I've only seen my best friend outside of his house twice this year. He and his wife have a 15-month-old baby boy, and they ignore, decline or don't make it to every social engagement because the baby might cry, or the baby is sleeping. They've all but stopped communicating with me. Help me understand why this is so hard for them, and if there is there any advice I can use or pass on that can help?

Most recently, I hosted a christmas lunch, and 30 mins after the appointed time, he texted "[baby] is still fast asleep - might be delayed or we might not be able to make it" - which is the last I heard from them. This is hurtful, and has been the pattern for ever since the kid was born - they only come out for major occasions, like his brother's 40th, and his brother's wedding. And everything seems fine when that happens, although they leave early in anticipation of his crying. Our birthdays passed without shared celebration, despite a bunch of invites from my end. He hardly ever replies to emails, voicemails or texts.

I'm his best friend in our city, but not a dad, and am certainly no expert in parent/baby psychology, but I'd like to be able to get a better feeling for what's going on. To me, it sounds like the baby is doing the same thing he does every day. The places we're inviting them to are our houses, not in public; we are happy to have a bit of crying and disruption and there is always a quiet room where he can sleep or be fed. Baby looks and behaves well within the bounds of normality as far as I can see. So why can't they accommodate this outside of their own house?

I have been trying to cut them all the slack they need while they figure out how to clamber back onto their social platform, but there's been no sign of improvement - possibly the opposite - and much as I just want to butt out and not meddle, I feel like it is time to have a come-to-jesus conversation, because I've seen several of his friendships peter out over the last year, and ours is in danger of doing the same.

I've tried to ask him about it, but I get an answer along the lines of "you'll understand when you're a parent", or "that's just how he is". He either lacks insight, is concealing something, and I don't really have the knowledge to prompt further, or offer constructive help. That's why I'm turning to you, AskMe! So specifically:

- Any idea what might make it so hard for them to come out to play?
- Any tools or techniques for making those things easier - that I can do, or that I can humbly suggest to them? I'm really trying not to meddle, but I need to fix our friendship.

(In case it's relevant, he's Indian, she's German, I'm British, we're in Australia. They're highly educated and mostly sensible otherwise. There are no signs of anything sinister as far as I can see.)
posted by cogat to Human Relations (55 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Do you have other friends with kids? Maybe invite them over with their babies so they can play together.

Being a first-time parent is hard and also terrifying, so I suspect that it'll all work out in a few more months, or when they have a second child.
posted by xingcat at 3:01 PM on December 27, 2013

I will second the notion that being a first-time parent can be hard and also terrifying, but also 15 months is a long time to be so completely isolated and shut down.

I wonder if one side of this couple is (possibly unintentionally) creating this situation. In particular, one concern would be if the wife is suffering from postpartum depression, which can range from mild to completely debilitating (and is, sadly, often missed or undiagnosed).

There are plenty of people who are parents who don't go through anything like this, so the "you'll understand when you're a parent" argument doesn't really hold any water (although it's entirely possible your friend doesn't realize this).

One idea, if previous talks/questions have failed to yield answers or results) might be to write your friend a letter. It would allow you to form your ideas and express your concerns first, and might potentially be less intimidating/overwhelming if your friend is struggling with something of which he/they are ashamed/embarrassed/worried, etc.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 3:09 PM on December 27, 2013 [12 favorites]

He either lacks insight, is concealing something,

Or is super stressed out, overworked, or sleep deprived, all very normal and common for first-time parents of a baby.

and I don't really have the knowledge to prompt further, or offer constructive help.

When my friend had a baby, and was the primary parent, and I never saw him anymore, I hung out with him by going to his house in my free time and taking care of the baby while he slept or took a shower or caught up on the million things he didn't have time for anymore. I don't know if that is something you or they would feel at all comfortable with but I have a strong feeling that constructive help would be much more along the lines of helping to lighten their baby/life workload.
posted by cairdeas at 3:11 PM on December 27, 2013 [14 favorites]

So they never showed up to the Christmas lunch? Did they ever follow up to clarify what happened? That's frustrating.

It's hard to know from the outside what is going on. Being a first-time parent is hard and scary for sure, but by 15 months, most parents have adjusted somewhat to "my life is now a chaotic mess from here on out and this is the new normal" and are venturing out again. Albeit, often 15-60 minutes late, frazzled, and looking like h^ll. (I have 2 myself.)

Your friend isn't -- but it's hard to know why. They may be legitimately overwhelmed with parenthood, maybe their baby is particularly challenging or it's just really hard for them. They could also be using the baby as an excuse -- maybe the baby is helping them avoid social things they really didn't want to attend anyway.

It's frustrating from the outside, but there's really not much you can do about it. I can't imagine a "come to Jesus" meeting will accomplish much besides making your friend feel defensive. I think all you can do is continue to offer invitations when you feel it's appropriate. Re-iterate your flexibility about arrangements and willingness to tolerate some baby mess. But expect no-shows. Some friendships just can't make it past big life changes. It's frustrating, but it's sort of the way of things.
posted by pantarei70 at 3:11 PM on December 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

"you'll understand when you're a parent"

Maybe. Maybe Not. Each kid and set of parents are different.

But when your other friends start having kids you'll definitely get a better picture of this. I had friends who didn't leave their house without the baby for like the first 2 years... my wife and I left the house without the baby our first day home. People approach this really differently.

But a lot of people (maybe most people?) just stop having friends in the traditional sense. Think about how many friends your parents or your friends parents had? not many.

Personally I think that is insane, but it does seem to be the way of things. My suggestion is that you seek him out, go to his house, operate on his timeline. It will help a lot.
posted by French Fry at 3:11 PM on December 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

Seconding French Fry.

It's pretty common with my Indian friends to disappear for the first two years. The only time they come out is when the grandparents are home and even then only the guys come out.

Also, almost all my Indian friends here in LA who grew up back home do not get baby sitters so the only interactions I have with them are if I go visit them or if other parents are around and it is some major occasion. I usually go visit them and yes operate on their timeline.
posted by viramamunivar at 3:19 PM on December 27, 2013

Is your friend an introvert who gets almost no time to himself and is using his baby as an excuse to bow out of social engagements? Does the 15 month not sleep through the night and your friend is just too exhausted to attend social functions and enjoy himself? Could your friend be harboring some beef against you that he has yet to express? Is his kid difficult to control and taking the (almost not a) baby out in public is just too stressful? Who knows?

Tell your friend you miss him and would like to see him more, ask if he needs any help with making that happen or making his life more well-rounded in general and then wait and see where it goes. If you have done all you can to nurture the friendship, there is nothing more you can do. Friendships require some degree of reciprocity and you can't force it from the other side. And sadly, some friendships fade away for no good reason at all.
posted by murrey at 3:20 PM on December 27, 2013 [3 favorites]

This is all super duper cultural and individual context specific.

You're right in that, in a sense, your friend likely doesn't have do isolate himself because of his baby. I have a best friend with a ten week old, and yesterday she came out for lunch with me and then we watched a movie--all with a baby at her boob, and napping between us, and strapped onto a sling. But she's a crunchy attachment parent who doesn't even own a crib. Other parents I know are similar (I've gotten to play auntie to a little girl from her second to her ninth year, and we always seem to end up hanging out and talking about the Baby-sitters club at parties), and my parents were counterculture folks who raised kids in a way that they intermingled with adults. And my friends certainly had plenty of friends who were totally independent from their children but also interacted with the children of the community.

However, this is not true across cultures. For those who raise their children to be "seen and not heard", to have very separate lives from adult lives, who favor sleep scheduling and quiet time for babies, then it's very likely that these parents will disappear a bit from the social sphere during infanthood because quiet baby time must, by necessity, be separate from boisterous social grown-up time. You might have more luck socializing with your friend at his house, or in very low key one-on-one settings.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:22 PM on December 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

There is one small thing that you may be able to try OP.

I knew a woman who told me that she behaved in a similar manner to your friend when her son was an infant. Both she and her husband never went out or did anything, and their entire lives began to revolve around work and the baby.

She told me that her best friend finally called her up after several months of this and said, "I will volunteer to watch your baby tonight, you and your husband need to go out." She relayed to me she accepted the offer and went out for the evening. Although it was anxiety inducing at the time, she said that she realized what outside life was like again and that it was possible to leave her son with someone else, if only for an evening every so many weeks.

So you could make a similar offer. Would you offer to babysit for your friend? Or is there another person that the couple would feel comfortable with?
posted by Wolfster at 3:22 PM on December 27, 2013 [11 favorites]

I find being so grounded by an infant after the first year to be a bit much. We found switching off, so one of us could go out to see friends, worked in many situations -- even emergencies at restaurants, where one could eat while the other walked baby around outside!

Also, remind them that a crying baby, when it happens, is really less a problem that the parents think. They are closest (it's right in their ears), think they regarded as responsible for quieting the kid instantly (right!), or causing the problem, or inept. No. Most adults present are less bothered than they are, and quite tolerant and sympathetic. We've been through it, are happy to share suggestions and stories, and enjoy the presence of the kids. Really.
posted by lathrop at 3:25 PM on December 27, 2013

Often when friends have babies they stop 'going out' and are more into the 'why don't you come by here when the baby is asleep'. At least that's what happened with my friends. Then they make more 'parent' friends that they have more in common with that they meet through baby/child-related activities.

To me it seems like you are asking 'when are they going to snap out of this' and I don't think they are necessarily going to. Sadly, they may be intentionally cooling the friendship as they probably have less free time and maybe don't even feel like doing the same things anymore.

Ok, I am WAY generalizing but my friends were pretty all consumed until their kids were like 7 or are leading different lives now and to me at least, that is normal.

Tl;dr, if you want to see them, stop by their house at times convienent for them.
posted by bquarters at 3:26 PM on December 27, 2013 [13 favorites]

People fade out of friendships for all kinds of reasons. Lots and lots and lots of people fade out of friendships when they have kids. I'd send one more invite and if he turns you down or flakes, say "okay let me know when you want to get together" and then just leave it at that. Calling yourself his best friend is no longer true or relevant. Enjoy your other friends until he emerges from the cocoon.
posted by headnsouth at 3:33 PM on December 27, 2013 [3 favorites]

Some people are super anxious about their baby's schedule and behavior in social settings. So instead of a party being fun for them, it's anxiety-inducing and the opposite of fun, which is why they skip them.
posted by chiababe at 3:35 PM on December 27, 2013 [20 favorites]

By 15 months, we were already nursing baby #2. We took baby #1 on a weekend outing from Chicago to NYC at 4 weeks. YMMV. Everyone's mileage may vary. Interestingly enough, were were sort of very vigilant about baby sleep. However, we made judicious exceptions. Going to a friends where the baby could eat, shit and cry with impunity and we could not have to worry about making a big deal would have been just such an exception. We made conscious decisions to have personal time within our constraints which by the way was a third child within 30 months.

Without knowing a lot more, there is no way to make any suggestions unless you make certain assumptions. Instead of making assumptions, I would take one or two paths. One, I would simply ask wtf? or what it is you can do to both be more accommodating and still see him. Two, I would invite myself over to their house and see if that is sufficient. IF they say no, send a goodbye gift and move on with your life.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 3:37 PM on December 27, 2013

Phrases like "concealing something" and "signs of anything sinister" concern me, and "mostly sensible otherwise" actually seems quite insulting.

But what most struck me in your post is the sentence, "I'm really trying not to meddle, but I need to fix our friendship."

The friendship is different now. Parenthood changes friendships.

I'm being blunt about that because I think you need to hear it bluntly, not because I think it's no big deal. It is definitely a big deal to have much less contact with someone you care about and not fully understand why.

All we know of this situation is your post. But in your post I hear disapproval, assumptions, and even suspicion. Those wouldn't have made me *more* interested in going out of my way to spend time with someone as an exhausted mom, honestly.
posted by kalapierson at 3:37 PM on December 27, 2013 [33 favorites]

This is not only couple-dependent, it is also child-dependent. One of my kids was terribly overstimulated by crowds, noises, even small gatherings from the time she was an infant until she was over two. (The other kid is a party animal, but is a terrible sleeper, so we are thrilled to go out and socialize but we do not mess with bedtime, ever.)

We tried to be the family that took our kid everywhere and kept our old social life, but at times it just didn't work and it made all of us miserable. That was the first thing I thought of -- they might know from hard experience that waking the baby up to take him to a Christmas brunch will mean hours of crying, or that even if he is fine at the party, he's going to be overstimulated and unhappy for the rest of the night.

Does HE seem miserable or are your concerns mostly about you? I don't mean that in a bad way, it is not a small thing to lose your best friend, but it sounds like this situation is harder on you than it is on him.
posted by xeney at 3:39 PM on December 27, 2013 [7 favorites]

Babies are exhausting. Until you have a toddler! There is nothing fun about taking a toddler out into the world. You spend your whole time chasing them in an unfamiliar environment. You say you have a quiet room for sleeping but do you have a crib? There's a certain amount of gear a toddler requires. It's so much easier to stay home.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:43 PM on December 27, 2013 [5 favorites]

As the mother of a 16-month-old, I get where your friends are coming from. Until 3 months ago, my kid was a terrible, terrible sleeper. I literally had no free time, and napped when he did. Going out with friends was very low on my list of priorities. It took everything I had to be a good parent, take care of basic bodily needs, and keep the house from becoming a total chaotic mess.

Now that he's sleeping through the night, things are a bit easier, and I make it out about once a week for two hours to see friends, and that seems luxurious. Like your friends, we only go to major events, as that takes up all the time and energy we have. It's more planning that you can imagine to get a toddler out of the house. And keeping my son's schedule is paramount, so anything I do during the day must not interfere with nap time.

I am a laid back, pseudo-hippie mom, not into making my child the center of my life. I strap him to my back and get on with my day, or hand him some raisins and tell him to butt out so I can do some dishes. But I will do ANYTHING to avoid being as sleep-deprived as I was for the first 13 months of my son's life. Unless you've done it, you have absolutely no concept of how raising a small child can affect every aspect of your life. If I were a nervous parent, or perhaps dealing with another culture's expectations of me as a parent, I think I might be pretty freaked out about taking my child on outings.

I will say that your friend not responding to texts and emails is disappointing, but I think it has nothing to do with you and everything to do with your friends being new parents. My advice to you is similar to that above: back off, offer to come by and spend time at their house if you want to see him. If one of my friends decided to have a come-to-Jesus talk with me about my lack of socialization with the attitude you've got, I would get really pissed, and me spending time with you outside my home would drop even lower on my list of priorities.
posted by Specklet at 3:53 PM on December 27, 2013 [15 favorites]

What are you imagining the 15 month old will be doing while his parents are at your house socializing? Sitting quietly and listening to the conversation? Sleeping in a parent's arms like a newborn? What 15 month olds actually want to do is walk or crawl around nonstop grabbing everything that looks like it might be interesting. They don't like to sit still for long. At that age it was hard to get mine to sit in a high chair long enough to eat. They have short attention spans. (So it's not like you can just give the kid a toy and expect him to sit and play with it for an hour. You'll be lucky if he stays with it for 10 minutes.) Is your house baby-proofed? Probably not, if you don't have kids, which means one of the parents will have to stay right next to the baby every second to stop him from grabbing things that can hurt him or things he might break (or ruin by sucking on them or mauling them with grubby hands.) If you don't have kids, you probably have no idea how full of dangers and breakable things your house is. And the baby's going to get pretty frustrated about all those things that look interesting that his parents won't let him touch. (Which means crying.) Many kids that age also dislike being around strangers or even familiar adults who aren't their parents. As a 15 month old, my daughter would very likely have cried if you had gotten close to her and looked at her or tried to talk to her.

You're asking your friends to bring their baby to a place where he can't have any fun, where he may damage things or disturb people by crying, and where they can't have any fun because they'll have to watch him every second, and you're wondering why they don't seem eager to accept your invitations? As your friend says, you'll understand when you're a parent.
posted by Redstart at 3:55 PM on December 27, 2013 [71 favorites]

If you really want to salvage this friendship then you need to ask your friend this question instead of us.

Call up the friend (not around the kid's bedtime) and say look, I miss hanging out with you and I know things are different now but is there something we can do together that would work for you guys? Can I come over and bring dinner, or can we all go to the park?

Then you have to abandon all expectations that anything you arrange will happen on time (kids just don't do "on time") and not think it's about you if they call off the plans because the kid hasn't napped yet this morning or something.

If you are round their house, tell them to be sure and throw you out if they need to do bedtime or something and you aren't getting the hint.
posted by emilyw at 4:01 PM on December 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

So I my daughter will be 15 months next week and I can understand where your friends are coming from. Since having her, my time with friends who don't have kids have dropped substantially. And I have a good kid who has slept well for a long long time. So why?

My daughter goes to bed at 630. I know it sounds crazy but she wakes at 630 because that's when I get her up when I have to go to work. 630 PM is when my non-kid friends are starting to think about going out. Now, she is a good sleeper so I can probably put her to sleep in a stroller in someone's house but then I need to wake her to get her in the car and wake her to get her to the car to bed. Doable, sure, but it's not going to be a regular thing. You don't mess with a kid's sleep.

I tend to hang out with other parents because they get it - when my kid cries, they reach for her because they know I can use a break. They have toys for her to play with. They have other kids to entertain her. They help me pack at 610 when they see her rubbing her eyes and don't give me a hard time or think I am concealing something.

And yes, to the point above, is your house child proofed? Because I can tell you, you don't realize how much needs to be put away or locked up until you have a kid. That nice wine rack? Bottles get pulled out. The media cabinet? Doors pulled open and DVD player out. Stairs? Oh god, stairs, do you have a gate? Sharp edges on coffee tables or fireplaces? Oh are your kitchen cabinets and drawers locked? My kid broke a drawer because she opened it and SAT IN IT. You don't want that happening at someone's house. And god forbid you have a dog, she will cry unless she is in my lap. It is stressful.

So, why can't they get a babysitter? To be blunt, for me, I don't have family around to watch her, so if we are going out, I am laying out 15 bucks an hour. Five hours is 75 bucks. I am only doing that for special occasions. And no, I am not shutting down the bar because 15 bucks an hour! And she wakes at 630 am, whether it is during the week or Sat or Sun, so I need to be rested and not hungover.

You want to see your friend, I respect that. So go THERE. Is it more important to see your friend or see your friend on your terms?

Again... I say this as someone who has a good kid, who sleeps well, eats well, and doesn't often cry.
posted by polkadot at 4:10 PM on December 27, 2013 [27 favorites]

Call your friend, tell him you miss him. Ask is it would be easier to get together at his house, maybe even on a Saturday morning/ early afternoon so his wife could run errands or otherwise go out. Or go over once a month with a couple beers and watch a movie.
posted by theora55 at 4:18 PM on December 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Mom of a 19 month old here. Keeping this short because she's in the tub (drawing with bath crayons). I agree with what the other parents said, plus -- Xmas lunch? At what time? 16 months old typically nap from 12:30 or 1 until 2 or 3 or even later. A formal lunch is pretty badly timed for a toddler. Naps are SACRED. An unnapped toddler is a MESS, no fun for anyone.

That said, there's no obvious reason ONE parent couldn't have come, leaving baby at home with the other.
posted by kestrel251 at 4:20 PM on December 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've tried to ask him about it, but I get an answer along the lines of "you'll understand when you're a parent", or "that's just how he is".

I understand why you're frustrated. "You'll understand when you ______" is a useless, condescending non-answer to anything.

People do cut people out of their lives when they have kids. It's happened to me and it's unpleasant. However, there were other problems in that relationship anyway. To hazard a guess, he answers that way because he wants to come to these things and his wife doesn't. I agree with trying to get him alone and seeing if you can get him to be a little more straight with you and work out a way the two of you can spend time together, even if his loyalty is always going to go to his wife and kid first.
posted by drjimmy11 at 4:24 PM on December 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

Things that will make it easier, once you are in the position of getting to hang out with your friend: You definitely have to accept that your friendship will change. Even on the occasion that you get to have dinner your story about work or whatever will be interrupted with "GET THAT OUT OF YOUR MOUTH!" or "Sorry, I have to go change him, hold that thought," or "Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!" or small fingers snatching at your glasses or going up your nose or spilling milk on your shirt.

If you want to stay in their lives, accept all of that. Be patient, help with the kid where you can do so without stepping on toes, and try to get to know the kid on his or her own terms. Ask them questions about the kid and show interest.

Question: are you just inviting them to large social events? You might have better luck with something small and low-key, and being open to going to their place as suggested above.

If historically you have been more likely to communicate with your friend in person - not sending emails or calling to chat, but saving it all up for when you meet up in person - considering adjusting that. Maybe he would be open to talking on the phone now and then.

And if your friend is just too swamped with parenthood to have a social life ... take a step back. You don't want to be seen as the guy who is always hounding him to get a beer while he is exhausted and overwhelmed and too embarrassed about the apple jacks crusted onto the sofa cushions to have anyone over.
posted by bunderful at 4:37 PM on December 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'm the parent of a two-year-old.

Here are things I probably will decline to go to:
* Anything that occurs between 1 and 3PM, as that's nap time.
* Anything that starts after 4:00 or 5:00, as I will have to leave too early to make it worth going out.
* Anything that requires me to be out past 8:00 or so, because bedtime.
* Anything that's set in a child-unfriendly location, which includes any house decorated in breakable things.
* Anything that's not likely to have any other children at it, unless this is your house with just a few friends.

Here are things I will probably try to go to:
* Things in the morning, like from 9:00AM through lunchtime.
* Things in the afternoon, like from 3:00-6:00PM.
* Things where my daughter can play with other kids.
* Things that are hosted at kid-friendly places. Kid-friendly places include most houses in which other kids live.

If you want to invite me to anything in the top category, you need to tell me in advance so I can have plans for someone else to watch my daughter.

Children are not accessories. They are little people, with emotions and feelings. You want to keep them happy in the same way you want to keep a significant other happy. Yes, they're childish and sometimes you have to tell them "no", but you're not going to drag your kids to places that either A) they don't want to be or B) they require constant unwavering attention to keep from hurting themselves or destroying things, because both of those things are not fun.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 4:37 PM on December 27, 2013 [37 favorites]

I suggest calling up your friend and saying, "I'd like to grab some take out from (his favorite restaurant) and bring it over and hang out and eat dinner with you. You tell me what time to arrive."

You'll likely be astounded at how early it'll be (dinner at 7 is ridiculously late with a kid and would mess up the whole evening). You'll also be amazed at how much easier it is for the parents if you go to their house, which they know is kid-proof for their kid.

You asked us what advice you can pass to your friend, but I think the better thing to do is to realize that your schedule, as a non-parent, is likely to be more flexible. You might try asking him when and where you could meet if you really want to meet out of the house. How about hanging out at the park while the kid plays? Is there a coffee shop with a play area? How about going for a walk?

When my first son was around that age and we went out to a restaurant, it was our goal to get in and out as quickly as possible. When the waitperson asked for our drink, we were ready to order. When they brought they food, we asked for the check. There was no time to linger no matter how much we liked our dining companions.

So ask your friend for advice and let him set the time, place, etc.
posted by bluedaisy at 4:50 PM on December 27, 2013 [4 favorites]

I agree with all the other parents of toddlers who have answered above. I have a 12-month-old, and I can count on one hand the number of times I've been to a party with or without baby. There are many, many reasons for this, and a lot of them are unique to my baby. I'm not happy about the current state of social affairs, but shit happens - my friends have mostly disappeared because I have mostly disappeared. Here is what I wish my friends would be happy to do:

* come to my house and:
-> head out with me and the little dude when he's eaten/woken up for a walk around the neighborhood/to get coffee/to run errands/to the farmers market/to get other food able to be eaten by one hand (note: this option is currently on hiatus until the snow melts)
-> bake or cook something with me - I love to bake/cook, but I can't do it with a toddler hanging onto my legs and screaming. But together we could make something, talk to each other, and entertain the little dude, and then we could eat it.
-> drink tea/coffee/beer/wine and just hang out
-> garden with me while my husband hangs out with the baby - we can talk and do something with our hands and feel like we've accomplished something, and I can still be around in case the baby gets hungry (note: also on hiatus until the snow melts)
-> eat dinner with us after the baby has gone to sleep around 7:00

I'm able to do this with some friends, and I truly cherish their flexibility on this. I feel lame for repeatedly asking them to come over, so I love it when people offer it on their own. I have not seen other old friends in months because they are so overscheduled that they can't handle my baby-related schedule ambiguity. These are people whose weekends are booked due to travel plans, weddings, yoga classes, etc. - I have no idea what my kid's nap schedule is going to be in 4 weeks when they have a Saturday morning opening, so why go through the hassle?

Anyway, I'm glad you want to be a good friend. Go to them, bring munchies and an open mind, and listen to them when they tell you how things really are (it might take a couple visits to get to that conversation).
posted by Maarika at 4:58 PM on December 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

In addition to so many of the good points above (specifically - post-partum depression, sleep schedules and parental exhaustion) I have couple points.

Imagine your friend broke his leg really, really badly. He is in pain, foggy from drugs, and finds maneuvering around with crutches almost impossible. And then you want to keep the friendship going: "a broken leg can't keep us apart!" So you invite him to a pick-up basketball game, rollerblading, climbing the stairs of the CN tower for charity, etc, and he declines due to his broken leg. So you invite him to easier things like a walk in the forest and dancing at a club that only has three steps at the entrance. You guys used to dance all the time; what's wrong with him that he won't put up with three little steps so you can dance?

That is how I interpret the pretty tone-deaf invitation to a formal brunch. A newborn might endure a brief one but a toddler is completely out of the question unless all the invitees were parents themselves and could act appropriately and proactively prepare for a toddler. (Did you have the food on tables with table-cloths? Can you imagine the mess after a toddler pulled it? Did everyone at the party keep they food and drink well out of reach of a toddler - so no putting plates or cups on tables or in their laps if they were on the chesterfield) I took all three of my children out to social occasions a lot because I believed it was important to socialise them in that manner, and they had the innate temperament for the weddings, funerals, and formal restaurants. None of this was fun for me though; it was bloody exhausting with very little immediate reward for me or my children.

The other part of going out in public is the huge amount of judgement, especially from non-parents. It is really tiring to have to validate non-parents feelings about your child too ("your child cried when I tried to play peek-a-boo! OMG, tell me your child is deficient in some manner and tell me I did everything right before you even think of comforting your crying child! Really, why would you bring out such an un-fun child? Clearly you don't play with your child in the right way!"). Shit's hard, yo. And no fun for child, parent, or clueless non-parent.
posted by saucysault at 5:01 PM on December 27, 2013 [9 favorites]

Ummm... my sister and her husband have 16-month-old twins, the husband is new to parenting, and there's never been any kind of nonsense like this. Never occurred to me with any of my four, either, even when I was parenting alone. Of the dozens - hundreds? - of people I've known with little ones, I've never run into anyone behaving like this about a 15-month-old. Now, maybe a 5-week-old...

Sounds like high-maintenance parent(s) creating an equally high-maintenance diva child... probably not the kind of people that are enjoyable to be around, anyway. Since the assumption would be that dad is not like this, or you'd already be aware of it, sounds like mom is running the show - and setting them up for plenty of difficulty in the meantime.
posted by stormyteal at 5:05 PM on December 27, 2013 [4 favorites]

Wait till all your other friends have babies and your entire social life goes down the pan. Pretty much everyone we know has a kid under three and we see them for occasional coffees and nights out about 3 times per year. We used to have a big weekend away about this time of year, 2 years ago 16 of us had a big 2 day party in a sprawling house. Last year we had a dinner party -everyone left by 6pm. This year we didn't bother. We still like hanging with our friends when we (they) can but they are overstretched, overtired and most importantly, have other priorities. Stop being a whiner, it won't change what they can do it will just make you look whiney. Instead figure yourself into their new set of priorities and see how you can get some decent time in there, this will mean planning, possibly different activities than previously (people who get woken up at 5am learn to avoid heavy drinking or late nights) and probable disappointment for you on some events if they have to cancel, because sometimes they definitely will.
posted by biffa at 5:07 PM on December 27, 2013

Going out may be too stressful for your friends. I only accepted invitations from other parents, unless I was able to leave my spouse at home with our kid and I rarely did even that. Mornings were often tricky till our kid was about 1, because he napped 10-11. Then he napped 1-3. And bedtime was around 7 and we had all the prep before that (feeding, bathing, changing, reading, nursing). This left us with lunch time or from 3:30 or 4 till about 5:30 unless we wanted to trade off one of those things. If your friends have a more challenging baby, they may have even less time. Naptime may be the only time they get a break or sleep. Their baby may wake up if they do anything.

But, more than that, is your home babyproofed? My sister would sometimes invite me over and going there was incredibly stressful. She had stuff all over the apartment and a lot of it was low hanging and none of it was anchored. A toddler climbs, explores, pulls and more. Going there meant spending all my time chasing my toddler, keeping him from harm, telling him no, etc. If you babyproofed your home and provided a range of toys, you might be able to get your friends to visit. Even if you babyproofed one room and provided a couple of toys, they might be able to visit. But, for me, visiting the homes of non-baby-possessing people was sooooo stressful.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 5:09 PM on December 27, 2013

Thanks for the much-needed perspective, everyone. It sounds like everything is going normally for them when I was worried it wasn't (though post-partum depression could be in the mix). What is left is about me, and my grief for our old friendship - but you've given me some great ways for working on that too, and certainly better than the kind-of-weird confrontation that I was contemplating.

Yes, my place is deeply un-childproof (a-ha! a clue!), and I have been hounding because of my own anxiety. I'll take a step back and readjust my expectations. I see much more clearly how I can show up as a friend.
posted by cogat at 5:23 PM on December 27, 2013 [21 favorites]

I hate to parrot what others have said, but this doesn't strike me as all that unusual.

Some friends of mine, one of whom was very socially active prior (the husband), had a baby and though they made frequent, brief outings with the baby, 'hanging out' pretty much stopped. Mutual friends noticed the frequent declines to hang and stopped extending invites. I, admittedly, have done the same.

Despite being reassured that bringing the baby along was fine (and everyone was prepared for baby noises, sounds and smells), I have a feeling they still stress over the impact the baby's presence will have. Perhaps this is the case with your friends?

Of course I have also noticed my friends' interests have shifted -- children and parenthood have dominated their focus, making it so much harder to have things in common anymore. I suspect they may avoid hanging out simply because they're no longer enjoying or focused on the same things--they are enjoying parenthood and may find it easier/more beneficial to hang out with those who are enjoying the same.
posted by stubbehtail at 5:24 PM on December 27, 2013

My advice: call him up, say "I miss you and [wife]; is there a Saturday night coming up when I could bring over some snacks and a bottle of wine after kid goes to bed and we can just hang out and catch up without you having to get a sitter? I'll bring everything."

It's possible that even that will be an issue for them if their kid is a nighttime hellraiser (and there are some like that; and 15 months actually can be a tricky time - some kids are in the middle of bedtime training around then.) But there's at least a chance that might work and be a nice time. I know I would have been delighted if my friends had done this when my kids were little toddlers.
posted by fingersandtoes at 5:30 PM on December 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

As the eternal not-baby-having friend, my offers to socialize are always "you tell me where and when and what I can bring - anywhere is fine, any time is fine on days X/Y/Z, and I will happily pick up sandwiches".

I don't invite myself over, though, because I don't want to obligate them to clean to whatever they feel are company standards. If they want to invite me over, that's up to them, but I always ask about a child-friendly public destination.
posted by Lyn Never at 5:35 PM on December 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

I dunno, OP. I've tried most of the above to no avail. I was Queen Flexible-Childless-Friend. I had many a breakfast at McDonalds. I've sat through dance practices. I brought food to houses. About 1/5 of the time it worked and we stayed friends. For the other 4/5, they already had made friends-with-kids who took precedence. That 1/5 also made efforts to remain friends with me, too -- like leaving the baby/toddler with a sitter/spouse once every few months. And I'm not seeing that effort from your friends in your question.

And it's different now than it was when you and I were kids. (If his brother's over 40, we're around the same age.) Today, parents cocoon more. That's neither good nor bad, by the way. It's just different.

The baby is 15 months old -- I'll lay money that your friends *are* being social, but with new parent friends that they've made. So pull back a bit. Stay in touch via email/text, still offer on occasion to meet up, but realize that it just might not happen. And it's not your fault.
posted by kimberussell at 5:37 PM on December 27, 2013 [11 favorites]

To add another possibility -- my kid had terrible diarrhea for most of her first year, and it is not entirely uncommon. It's also not something that people necessarily want to talk to you about. Anyway, the idea of bringing all the diapering supplies and changes of clothing necessary for a couple of hours out and changing their kid on the bathroom floor (in addition to all the good points above) -- it's often too much, especially when it's your first kid and you're still navigating everything else about being a parent.

That said, I hope you don't give up on your friends and I hope they are able to figure out how to communicate what kinds of things WILL work for them soon.
posted by freezer cake at 5:37 PM on December 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Also, it gets better. While I don't have a great social life now, things with my 5-year-old are much better. It is easier for one parent to escape.
posted by k8t at 5:51 PM on December 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

A new child is a lot like your drunk college roommate. They eat your food, crap in odd places, don't clean up their own mess, require excessive supervision, stumble around a lot, pants=optional, are loud, rude, and are completely oblivious to the havoc they are creating. But, for some strange reason, they are the life of the party and everything centers around them. The good times role as long as they are kept mostly upright and functional.

Does your friend have a back porch, because one of the best first days with company as a dad I had involved a friend bringing over some beers, us getting to chat, and about a metric ton of jingling toys, keys, and what have you. It lasted maybe an hour and a half, but wow - getting to see other adults is fun. My friend was into it. The kid wasn't an accessory, the beers were. The conversation was good, but once again - a lot of it was kid-centric - as that was all I knew, and my friend helped me out by asking questions about the whirling dervish that is my child.
posted by Nanukthedog at 5:54 PM on December 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

In my experience, most babies that age do not deal well with changes in routine. They are mobile enough to get into massive trouble, and can't communicate well enough to keep from getting frustrated. Add a strange place + strange people + disruption in sleep schedule and you basically have a guaranteed meltdown.

Part of being a parent is treating your children with empathy. That means avoiding situations that you know will make them miserable unless absolutely necessary. We've done all our casual socializing at breakfast, early lunch (11am), early dinner (think 5:30pm), or after bedtime for the past 3 years. Luckily, we've got friends who have gone out of their way to accommodate our senior citizen schedule.
posted by snickerdoodle at 6:01 PM on December 27, 2013 [3 favorites]

Sounds like you've figured out what the issue is with the Christmas lunch, but just to give you an example:

One of the worst afternoons I've ever had was taking our then-20-month-old to a party for a dear friend in a city an hour away. Our kid had been invited, we were told there would be other kids fact there were no other kids there, and the apartment was not only totally not childproofed, it was essentially anti-childproofed, in the sense that in addition to the usual hazards of childless houses, the hosts had a large collection of vintage toys that were on display all over the house on little tables. Since it was too cold to go outside and play, I spent a couple of hours shooing my kid away from the toys, trying to keep him out from underfoot, and trying to distract him from running all over the house with the books and toys we had brought with us, which were old hat and not nearly as interesting as the forest of vintage Pez dispensers arrayed alluringly at ideal grabbing height. All around me people were having interesting and sophisticated conversations that I would have loved to join into except that devoting my full attention there for more than 20 seconds would inevitably have meant greasy handprints on the wall, a broken little glass figurine etc. The kid and I were both frustrated and unhappy. The hosts, who are lovely, lovely people, had issued the invitation in the kindest of spirits but really just had no idea a) how 20-month-olds act, or b) that their apartment was a total minefield. I love them to pieces, but seriously, I will never go there again with a child under 7 under any circumstances.

We still love our childless friends, but our ability to socialize has changed a lot. We like to go to things together, but going without our kid means hiring a babysitter, which needs to be organized in advance, costs $15/hr, etc. If it's during the day, it also means giving up valuable time with our kid, since we both work and have limited time during the week to spend with him. So it's much easier to do things where he can come along, but as someone said above, it's no fun for anyone to be constantly riding herd on a kid who isn't having a good time, so it's much easier if you do something they would also like to do in a setting where they are unlikely to hurt themselves or break things.

We are lucky that we have some childless friends who have really made an effort to socialize with us in a way we can manage. Some of the things we've done together include:
- they stop by for a meal or just to hang out, and the household routine goes on as usual in the background with one spouse or the other taking turns socializing.
- they invite us to group events that will be fun for our kid even if everyone else there is an adult. Some examples have included pumpkin carving, walks to look at the department store holiday displays, visits to the zoo, picnics in the park, beach trips, easy hikes. Drop-in events work much better than sit-down meals or anything with a specific schedule.
-the occasional important birthday/celebration where we get a babysitter and see them for a civilized dinner, for which we are pathetically grateful, but which requires substantial advance planning and financial outlay. We are delighted to do this when someone invites us to a special occasion, but drinks and dinner at 7 on Friday night are just out.

15 months is an especially difficult age since some kids that age nap twice a day (usually morning and afternoon) AND have an early bedtime and seriously, WOE BETIDE YOU if you screw with the sleep schedule, because then your child will be an unpleasantly cranky screaming mess by bedtime, instead of just being cheerfully frenetically active and a constant menace to self and others.

The good news is that 15-24 months is probably the nadir in terms of how difficult they are to take out--they drop the morning nap and become more reasonable and articulate creatures who are less prone to putting themselves in immediate danger--but the bad news is that your friends may then have a second child and reset the cycle.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 6:23 PM on December 27, 2013 [9 favorites]

Ask your friend if he'd like to go hiking or walking -- a few miles in the fresh air in a stroller will tire out a lot of kids still in strollers, and if their toddler is now toddling, a (very very slow) mile on a hiking trail out in nature will exhaust their child for an excellent nap and he will think it's great fun looking at dirt and sticks. Small children are EXCELLENT walking and hiking buddies, and you get lots of time to chat with your friend while you guys mosey at the speed of toddler.

Indicate your willingness to tag along to the playground or zoo, too; you can be an extra pair of hands, and it's pleasant to hang out in the sun on a park bench chatting while kids play or look at monkeys with an excited toddler.

Bring goldfish crackers and you'll be a hero.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:42 PM on December 27, 2013 [13 favorites]

I have two friends with babies that were born a week apart who will be a year old next month. One friend just rolls with things as they are. If the baby's nap gets skipped, it's ok, man, she'll sleep longer tonight. She gets sitters to go out on occasion. She has a (very) part time job. The other is absolutely chained to her kid's sleep schedule. If your event occurs anywhere near nap time or bed time, she's not coming or will bail very early to make it home for the sleeping. She absolutely Can Not deal with a squirrelly baby that is off her schedule. She isn't comfortable with sitters that aren't family, and her family lives 4 states away.

Parents deal with their kids differently. And some kids have different needs. It's the nature of the beast.
posted by chiababe at 6:44 PM on December 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

For some babies, perhaps, missing a nap means sleeping longer at night. I find that for my baby (and I know that this is true for a good number of other babies as well) that if she takes long naps she will sleep at night like a champ - she generally does 12-13 hours straight.

If she misses a nap or only gets a short nap during the day, she has trouble falling asleep at bedtime or wakes up in the late evening and cries. Babies are paradoxical sometimes but there is a reason why "being overtired" is a Thing for kids. If you have a baby who doesn't need naps then I say great, but I wouldn't judge anyone's parenting on whether they need to get their kids to bed or not.

My baby also sleeps poorly if I try to put her down at someone else's house, even if I bring all her sleep stuff, Pack and Play, swaddle blankets, white noise machine, etc. (which is a pain in the ass and I look forward to the day that all she needs is a quiet room to sleep in). Anyway, you sound like a nice and reasonable friend and I hope that once your buddy makes it through toddlerhood alive he'll be able to keep up his side of the friendship.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 7:47 PM on December 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

Our boy turned 1 year old this month and (a) we would TOTALLY blow off a specific arrival time for something like a party over naptime running early/long/whatever because sleep-disturbed baby is make-everyone-miserable baby and (2) we don't let him be a reason for us to not have a life we enjoy.

But as folks above have said, that's us and that's him. He's a good sleeper, we don't have a crazy early bedtime, he's very social and has never had stranger anxiety. You want to hold him? Here you go! We've got a good support structure and are comfortable leaving him with a sitter/family/friends. Some people don't leave their kid with anyone else for years at a time.

We were not those people.

Even with our flexibility there were a lot of new constraints, whether it be places that would be too loud or the times would be a naptime issue or they were too far in the car with a kid who didn't love being strapped into the seat. Maybe your friends have a lot more constraints. Maybe they're just prioritizing differently.

In our friendships, back when we were the last ones to spawn, we'd just bluntly tell someone we hadn't seen them in forever and it bummed us out and we'd like to make something happen. We'd also call bullshit on anyone who gave us a line like you'll "understand when you're a parent." Well, maybe so - but I'm asking you right now, so how about you give me a real fucking answer instead of devaluing me with that dismissal?

But we're also not conflict-averse people in that way. In our current life we've told people "man, I'm sorry but there is just no way we have the energy for that this week with little doctor woke-at-midnight here." We have suggested dinner at our place after the kid went to bed, and even at times volunteered other people to bring it.

Is there a cultural thing preventing your friend from doing that? Are they prouder about the state of their home than we were? If they're not comfortable "pleading baby" then maybe they don't want you in their bottle-strewn home. We've had other friends do the fade and only hang with other parents that some above have cited.

I don't know what your friendship is like. If you can be plain with them - without making them feel like shit for whatever baby-imposed as well as self-imposed restrictions they have - then that's the best thing. If they are not ever going to level with you if they're cutting you off... then you're just going to have to make your best effort at helping them make it happen and just shrug at whatever rolls out.

tl;dr - they have a burden on their time and energy that is somewhere between notable and constantly exhausting, so they could be fading you out or they could be legitimately unable to find time. They for sure have the energy to be frank with you about it, but whether they have the willingness and tools to do so is unknowable to us. Make an effort and accept the result.
posted by phearlez at 7:58 PM on December 27, 2013

I see much more clearly how I can show up as a friend.

I like this phrase, because it does, actually, involve you physically showing up.

Not uninvited, mind you -- but for my husband (and for a lesser extent for me) the childless pre-child friends he's kept come to us. They come over and watch the game. They come and hang out in the back yard. They come over at 4 and help make dinner. They came as a group this spring and helped us build the most awesome clubhouse ever for my kid to play in. They are unafraid to get down on the floor and play with my son .... who is 7 now and thinks of these male friends of my husband as his own friends as well. They play board games with him, show him science experiments, and don't freak out when he wants to try the drums in rock band. They are role models for my son every bit as much as my husband is, and it's because they started by being willing to show up here, at our house, and spend time with our family at time when it was almost impossible for us to go to them.

One thing I notice from your question is that you say he's your best friend -- but you have no idea what is actually going on in his life. You say you've made an effort to reach out, but what, from your end, does that reaching out look like? When you are a parent, your friends are either other parents, or people who are willing to let you talk about this new person in your life all the freaking time. All the time. Because every day is new and different and the baby has stolen your heart away and s/he is all you want to talk about in the world.

So, reach out to him again. Say you want to bring over a present for them and the baby, and bring over something nice and age appropriate (ideally that isn't plastic and doesn't make noise) for the kiddo, and for them, bring over something small that acknowledges them as a new family together. Then, be willing to do nothing but ask questions, play with the baby, and listen.
posted by anastasiav at 7:58 PM on December 27, 2013 [3 favorites]

One perspective I haven't seen represented here is that working parents really get a very small number of hours per week to spend with their kids, and each one is precious. I've definitely turned down invitations because I didn't want to spend an hour-plus of my painfully brief time with my daughter sitting on the freeway to get to the other end of Los Angeles. Parties are fun, but getting there and back sometimes feels like way more trouble than it's worth.
posted by town of cats at 8:14 PM on December 27, 2013 [5 favorites]

Also, just as a note, Christmas is fucking hot as balls in Australia. It is a VILE time to travel with a child. When my daughter was about 18 months we did Christmas up here, travelling hill and dale to get to family gatherings and see friends and all that.

We ended up with an over-tired, over-stimulated, allergy-induced-rash toddler with drivers sunburn and none of us got enough sleep. Oh, and she was constipated in spite of feeding damn near constantly because instead of a proper feed she'd get two minutes in until someone wandered over to talk (or popped their head in to see how we were doing/"make sure you aren't isolated dear, it's bad for you") and disrupted it AND everyone just loved feeding her whatever junk they had in their hand (regardless of her allergies/intolerances/age). She's one of the 'sleep begets sleep' kids too, so the missed naps meant horrible bedtimes and early wakeups. For an entire week.

A week where everyone seemed intent on telling us how we're doing it wrong, we should let them babysit so we can go to the movies/do adult things/hang out with them how they want to hang out. Because we're in danger of losing ourselves in parenting...

(Post-birth, if my 'friend' insists a babysitter is necessary to continue the friendship I tend to think they want an image of me, not the reality which is that I am a dyad with my child for 2 years or so - I'm much happier to go out on my own now, but the first 2 years or so it wasn't fun at all to go out without her, and the people who forced it in a misguided attempt to help actually made it worse and damaged my relationship with them)

My best friend is a hard-drinking, graveyard-shifting game nerd who smokes, swears like a sailor, can't keep house, and wears amazing clothes. My daughter LOVES her, and since she was a wee baby the three of us have hung out at cafes whenever we were both awake, or at our house (including while I pumped), or on Skype. I've since stayed at my best friend's house (sans child obviously) and got my drink on staying up too late and being a nerd, but that first two or three years needs an adjustment of expectations and routines and if you cannot manage that, the death of a relationship is not just the parent's fault. If she'd refused to meet me where I could get to (cafes were a short walk from home, my house was obviously more comfy) then we would never have survived that first few years. Most of my friendships survived because we were content to let them lie fallow while I dealt with parenting, then build them back up when I could - because I'd done the same for mental illness, new jobs, whatever.
posted by geek anachronism at 8:22 PM on December 27, 2013 [6 favorites]

Hey, I am really glad this thread helped change your perspective and is hopefully making you feel less intentionally sidelined. I would just add one more thing, which is sleep deprivation. I know the child in question is 15 months old, but there are many, many babies who are crap sleepers and still waking multiple times a night. The result is completely exhausted parents with genuinely neurologically impaired functioning. The amount of energy needed to plan and execute anything other than the most routine household leaving can seem (and is, for those parents) incredibly difficult with so little stamina and such foggy brains. Given the choice between 10 non-taxing minutes at home with a sleeping toddler and going to collect 10 million dollars in lottery winnings, there are parents who would skip the lottery winnings.

My niece is two years old. I have had to schedule phone calls with my sister since her birth. And sometimes the proposed schedule is "Well, you could call on Thursday between 2:30 and 3 my time" and I'm all "Dude, I don't even know what day of the week today is, let alone if I'll be awake / working / drunk / shagging / paragliding four days from now in a specific 30 minute window" and it drives me fucking insane that it has to be this way right now. But I suck it up because my sister has it way harder than I do, I want to maintain the relationship on whatever terms are available, and I trust that she's doing the best she can. And, really: life is long and this, too, shall pass.

Anyway, I totally get that this is hard and sucks for you and I just wanted you to know that. You're a good friend to ask about this instead of just slow-fading.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:46 PM on December 27, 2013 [3 favorites]

This essay titled "How To Stay Friends When Your Friends Have Kids" really resonated with me.

Key takeaways: your friendship has now expanded from you+him to you+him+baby. Expect to move your friendship interactions from bars and clubs to, primarily, his living room for the next seven to ten years. (This is not necessarily true of all parents but it appears that your friend has a more homebody parenting style.) Be prepared to adjust if you want to maintain this friendship.

When my first close friend had a baby it was really hard for me. She withdrew for a while and I felt the loss keenly, perhaps as you are doing right now. I eventually had a come-to-Jesus talk with her and she said that she cared a lot about me as a friend but didn't really feel like she had much in common with me post-baby. Our friendship survived, and years later is now stronger than it was pre-kids. But if I were to do it all over again, I would have focused less on feeling wounded and more on how I could support her during this new life transition. You gotta meet new parents where they are if you want to continue to be part of their lives.

This is an opportunity for you to express to your friend how much you value his friendship. Some posters above have suggested that your friend may be purposely moving away from you. I have no way of knowing if this is true. But I do know that telling your friend (and showing him with your actions) that he and his family mean a lot to you can only serve you well in this and future friendships.

Good luck.
posted by whenbynowandtreebyleaf at 8:53 PM on December 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

Excellent, excellent, excellent answers in this thread and I concur with just about every one. The point about mother and child being a dyad for at least the first two years is an important one, because it means that dad is oftentimes doing all of the other stuff around the house that mom simply cannot do, by virtue of having to constantly be with the child. It doesn't work that way in every household, but I bet it works that way in more households than you would think. Your friends are TIRED.

The one thing not mentioned in this thread is avoiding the possibility of illness. I'm not a super fanatic about germs and illness, but some people are. If you are constantly inviting them to public places or things with large groups of people, that could be one (or one more) reason why they decline.
posted by vignettist at 9:38 PM on December 27, 2013

Many great answers here. I can totally relate to The Elusive's anecdote above. My worst party memory involves the "child friendly" house with cactus plants artfully displayed on the floor. Wonderful people with good intentions who did not have a clue.

I had much success meeting child-free friends in child friendly cafes. Ones that have hemmed in play areas with tables around for observation are excellent. Maybe suggest breakfast?

My two closest friends don't have kids and over the years both of them have made and continue to make real efforts to be involved with my family, not just me. I'm lucky to have such understanding friends.
posted by Cuke at 8:00 AM on December 28, 2013

Nthing everything everyone has said. Baby echo is 7 months old and I love meeting friends for a late breakfast or early lunch between naps, or late afternoon for coffee. Really, it's all about the nap time - I am definitely one of those parents whose baby needs to have her naps or will be a nightmare to put to bed.
posted by echo0720 at 2:38 PM on December 28, 2013

Parenting is hard work. Be kind to them, and above all don't place obligations on them - their world is all obligation right now. Echoing what others are saying about meeting them on home turf, and letting them set the time. One or both parents might have to disappear from time to time on mysterious sleep and feeding related missions, be cool about that.

Later on sitters are a wonderful thing, but probably kind of a special occasion thing, so make sure when you drag them out it's something special.
posted by Artw at 7:53 PM on December 28, 2013

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