Sunday, August 26, 2012

Maintaining meaningful friendships in busy times

With life being so busy and yet the friendships and relationships we build being so important to our emotional, mental and spiritual well being - finding a way to make it all work together can be a challenge.  I love my friends and I want to ensure that they know that.  I want to demonstrate my love for them and really be proactive in maintaining those relationships, even when I feel the pressure to just keep busy with family and life.

I have often written about friendshipsFriendships that I didn't build into enough and these friends now live on another continent, the importance of having strong relationships and all of these take planning and time.  Friendships can start out rather spontaneously but to maintain them, takes more!

I have a few ways that I maintain, build and grow my friendships:

1.  Schedule it
I schedule the days I will phone my friends.  I schedule an email to a specific friend.
If I phone a friend on Monday, I will schedule a date 2 weeks away to phone again.  (this is especially for my long distance friends) If I don't do it like this, weeks will pass like days and before I know it I haven't spoken to them in 2 months. 

2.Rather do a little than nothing
I sometimes just go to someone's Facebook profile and let them know that I am thinking about them.  I don't send long messages, just a quick note - but a reminder that I am thinking of them and care about them.  A BBM message, an SMS, an email- whatever you prefer.

3. Make appointments to see friends
Every week I plan ahead to ensure that I meet up with my friends.  I try to make it a minimum of one friend a week.  I also don't want to run around like a crazy social butterfly and schedule visits with friends every day of the week.  I would be exhausted and it would become more of a duty than a visit.  I normally plan a week in advance and choose a day that works best for our household (keeping in mind my husbands needs, homeschooling schedule and housekeeping responsibilities)

4.  Keep it short
I find that shorter visits are a lot easier to manage than lengthy ones.  A coffee rather than a meal.  A chat while our children participate in a sporting activity together is far easier to manage.  Taking a flask of coffee with some biscuits is just as good for times of friendship, as going to a local coffee shop.

5.  Visit after hours
I especially do this with friends who do not have small children or children who are not age appropriate for my children.  It also gives me the freedom to leave the kids at home with Sean, so I can have some time out.

6.  Focus on a few
I can't be a friend to everyone.  I have had to reflect and consider who I would call my friend.  I choose carefully because these are people I bare my soul to,  the ones I know who watch my back;distance, time, none of these change our relationship because they run deep.  These are the ones I want to build. 

7.  Let them join in with your program
I love having friends in my home but sometimes I have to make dinner, bake for an event or get things done in the kitchen.  I specifically have one friend who sits and chats to me in the dining room while I carry on in the kitchen.  She has become so used to me being busy while visiting that she now brings her own things to do like crochet or sewing while we visit together.  In between we drink copious amounts of copy and natter away while our children play.  It's perfect!  We get to be together even though life continues to happen around us.

8.  Listen to those promptings or feelings
Often the most important times for friends have been times when they have been on my mind and I have followed up with a call or email.  It's when they have needed me most, a word of encouragement or just a listening ear.  The times I haven't phoned I have regretted it, because I always seem to find out afterwards that things have been difficult.  God gave us friends not just for us but so that we can be His gift to them too and I love being part of his bigger picture.

What do you do to nurture your friendships? How do you priortise friends and fit them into your life?

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