Friend Therapy, on the cheap.

At the first sign of warm weather, my girlfriends and I announced to our families that we'd be having a day off.

We sent out an email to our extended group of women friends, inviting them to sit on one of our patios and have margaritas for an afternoon. Kids were welcome, but not encouraged. Not because we don't like having kids around - we actually really do - but because we figured this one was about the moms. So much of what we do on a daily basis is about the kids, we wanted everyone to have a day off, and that's hard to do when your 7 year old is complaining of boredom or your two year old is taking a dip in the koi pond.

We told people to bring either a dip or a bottle of tequila, or just themselves. I made a crock pot full of taco meat, and picked up a bag of tortillas.

Throughout the day, probably 30 women came and went over many hours. It was estrogen heaven.

I don't think anyone spent over 15 or 20 bucks for those hours and hours of peaceful sunshine and entertainment. No way could we even have gone out to lunch for the price we paid for that day. We didn't go overboard trying to have a million different food offerings, or fancy decorations or party favors. We just had a pitcher of margaritas, some non-alcoholic drinks (Crystal Lite, etc.), and a few taco fixings on hand.

As the weather gets warmer, I'm getting really excited about the social opportunities in store for us. In days of yore I'd have been looking forward to The Replay patio or the front porch at The Free State Brewing Company. I'd have fancied myself having a margarita on La Tropicana's patio or tooling around shopping districts in Kansas City.

These days, though, nothing gets my heart pumping like the prospect of a back yard gathering. Kids or no kids, they're the perfect way to release some stress. Let the kids run around, then put them to bed or let them collapse in a sun-beat pile, and enjoy your adult friends. Save your entertainment dollars by cooking your gourmet burgers at home, and save yourself the agony of waiting for a table to open up at your favorite bar. Other bonuses to the back yard: No one will likely throw up on your shoes. No one will likely overcharge you for your beverage. You can sleep on your friends' couch if necessary, and you might even get fed a good breakfast in the morning. You can pour your drinks how you like 'em, and fix your food to your specs, be they vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free, or raw.

It doesn't take much planning, time, or stress to pull off a back yard of happiness, and people are usually more than happy to participate, in my experience. Life is busy, and it's hard to prioritize "downtime" and friends sometimes. But without the effort to make sure friends remain friends, quite frankly, they just often don't.

Do I have time to take a Saturday afternoon off to play with my friends? No. Do I occasionally do it anyway? Absolutely. I think that kind of thing is as important for my health as eating a balanced diet and getting exercise. My husband can attest that regular Friend Therapy makes me a happier, healthier wife and mother. Which is good for all of us.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.