Friday, April 13, 2012

Friends with kids: A fresh start

This is the third and last in my series about the discussions my partner and I have had about the continuous process of making friends and moving while having a child. In the last two installments, I discussed how people with children have featured more prominently in our friend pool, how our schedules sometimes exclude socializing with young, night shifted professionals, how energy levels and candidate pools have effected who we socialize with and when. In September, we get to start over again in our new homes. Here I've listed a few plans to battle loneliness in the upcoming years.

As usual, comments, advice and stories from fellow educated tumbleweeds are welcome.

One of the mistakes we made in our current location is that we didn't activly befriend permanent people in my department who have children of the same age or slightly older than us. We mostly socialized with other post docs in the same position as us. The longer a person has lived in an area, the more likely they are to have a larger network of friends with children we can tap into. My partner has made friends with several such people at University E. We hope to encourage them to help us meet people.

These last few years, I have spent a lot of time trying to find other parents that may also be socially interesting to me. I have specifically shied away from socializing with intersting academics in a setting where I am a parent. This is my shortcoming, and as much as I may wish it away, it will not disappear by September. My partner, fortunately, does not have this fault. We hope to invite many people from his department over to our house for a weekend brunch or some quiet evening activity. As I look back, there are many people in my department who may have understood and/or enjoyed spending time with Epsilon, if we had taken the chance and expended the effort. Now may not be the time to start making this social gamble, but September almost certainly is.

As I will be living several hours away from my partner and Epsilon, near University F, my problem of making friends will be different. It will be easier in some ways. Without Epsilon around, I will not have a domain of my life while I am near my colleagues where I feel embarrassed to interact with them. I enjoy the part of academic life that involves going out for drinks and dinner after a seminar. I look forward to taking full advantage of these occaisions. I need to make sure that I aggressively insert myself into the social life of the department.

In this discussion, I should note that there are multiple reasons why I am not thrilled with the physical location of University F. Without Epsilon to aid in my intergration into society outside of the university, I will probably be isolated outside of work.  My only other socialization will be when I come home near University E. Past experience has taught me that not having any part of my life outside an academic setting makes me very grumpy. This is a problem I will have to tackle.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like you've already come up with several good solutions. The only other thing I can think of is related to your desire to meet people outside of academia by Academia F. If you have an interest (language class, hobby, exercise class) you've wanted to pursue, this might be a good opportunity for you to take an hour for yourself and give you a platform to meet people.