How We Do It: Organizing Our Relationships

20 February 2018

Hi friends! Today in our How We Do It series we’re talking about relationships! I know what you all really want to know is how I maintain friendships without text messaging or getting together with girlfriends, so let’s start there! :)

To catch up any new folks: Nancy Ray and I are writing an eight-part series every Tuesday in January and February covering “how we do it” in eight different areas: the rhythms, habits, and routines that help us get things done and make the space and time for what matters most. You can read more of the backstory here.

How We Do It: Relationships

To be clear, as I clarified on the first post in this series, I do both text and get together with girlfriends – just on a more limited basis than I perceive my peers do. First off, I always reply to texts sent to me :) In general, though, texting just doesn’t seem to be the main way my friends communicate (I’m more likely to send longer-form emails). And, as much as it gets a bad rap, one of my favorite ways to keep in touch with faraway friends is through Instagram! I think it can be an amazing way to be a part of the mundane parts of each other’s lives that we wouldn’t normally think to discuss on, say, a phone call.

A few years ago, I started two practices that made a huge difference in some of my closest relationships. Every Monday on my drive home from work, I call my Mom. We’ll talk or FaceTime at other times throughout the week, but even if we don’t, I always know we’ll connect then! Similarly, every Tuesday I have a Google Hangout with my two sisters. We’ll occasionally miss a week, but having the standing date on the calendar means we chat more weeks than not. Both have been easy habits that have paid dividends in these relationships!

On the girlfriends (and really, friends in general) front, I’ll say this: I am a major quality over quantity person. I don’t really have that many, but the ones I do have are a treasure to me and get extra doses of my love and affection! Our close couple friends we try to see at least once a month. Most of the remainder of my girlfriends live in my neighborhood or on my street, so I get together with them casually just being outside without organizing specific “nights out,” etc. I do have two structured get-togethers each month, which are easy for me to plan for and organize: Articles Club (of course!) and a neighborhood book club.

Here’s one thing that can be a bit difficult, both organizationally and emotionally: getting more than one couple together. For example, we wanted to have three husband and wife pairs over for a game night for my upcoming birthday. I swear, it took no fewer than 25 text messages between the four ladies to figure out a mutually agreeable date from the eight options I originally proposed. Since we don’t have a million close friends, we can’t just throw out a general invitation for something like this and expect anyone to show up, but feeling so dependent on so few people can leave me feeling self-conscious or inadequate, especially around special occasions. In the end, though, that’s just the type of people John and I are, and these friends are worth it :)

A tool that I sometimes use for gauging the best date for larger gatherings: Doodle! I’ve mentioned it before, but it can be a great timesaver when organizing with a bunch of busy folks.

perpetual calendar

I keep track of birthdays in a pretty perpetual calendar, which I keep out on our counter and reference during my prep days. MY PREP DAYS! They are another key to keeping things organized in my personal life. When I thought about what had stopped me in the past from doing kind and fun things for the people I love, it wasn’t a lack of money or time, it was a lack of preparation. Starting last year, I designated one day a month (the last Sunday of each month, usually) my prep day, and I take about two hours to walk through a few steps to prepare for birthdays, holidays, events, date nights, etc. You can read more about them here.

On those prep days, I always have blank floral cards on hand from Rifle to use for birthdays, anniversaries, congratulations, or condolences. I usually buy a few packs on Black Friday, which cuts down on having to run out and buy a card for every occasion!

A few final tips around holidays: I keep all of my mailing addresses in a Google Doc (I know a lot of people use and love Postable, too!). I keep track of past Christmas and birthday presents (only for John and June) in other Google Docs. Future present ideas go in my Notes app so I can update it on the fly!

As always, I feel like there was so much more I could cover under the very general “relationships” heading, so if there’s something you’d like for me to tackle in a future post, please let me know! Can’t wait to see what Nancy has to share today, too! :)

P.S. I didn’t really touch on tending to my marriage in this post because I feel like I talk about it fairly often – for more on that topic, check out this category!

The rest of the series:
Time: Em’s post and Nancy’s post
Finances: Em’s post and Nancy’s post
Home: Em’s post and Nancy’s post
Personal Lives: Em’s post and Nancy’s post
Work: Em’s post and Nancy’s post
Relationships: Em’s post and Nancy’s post
Kids: Em’s post and Nancy’s post

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[…] post and Nancy’s post Work:: Em’s post and Nancy’s Post TODAY: Relationships – read Emily’s post here! February 27: Spiritual Life March 6: […]

February 20, 2018 8:11 am

I love this so much and have truly enjoyed this series so much, Em! You’re one of the most intentional, inspiring people I know and I feel so lucky to know you in real life too! :) So many great nuggets here that I’m filing away!

p.s. I really loved your post before on making friends in your neighborhood and while it sort of seems silly to go so in depth with these things, I’d love to hear how you cultivated your deeper relationships with 4 couple friends over the years! (Especially since I know you were new in NC a while back too!) xo

February 20, 2018 11:04 am

I love this post, Em and treasure the rare chance I get to connect with you on the phone or in real life :) Xo

February 20, 2018 8:04 pm

I delight in thinking about how much money we’ve saved since we started buying boxes of “generic” cards to use for birthdays/anniversaries!! Add to that the fact that there are few places Charlie hates more than the greeting card aisle, and it is just a win-win :)
On another note, I love that you Hangout with your sisters every week. My family has a group text, which is wonderful, but it sometimes gives me the illusion that I’ve “talked” to one of my siblings more than I actually have. Definitely need to work on that!

February 23, 2018 9:32 am

Hello. A question that I have would be kind of about relationships: How do you organize emergency planning? I am a stay at home mom to three little kids ages 8, 6, and 3. I homeschool them and have responsibility for most home and family things. But, what happens if there is an emergency? Specifically, I am battling a mystery health condition that might leave me with an emergency surgery. There are very few articles that I found helpful on how families handle emergency situations or mom’s that have to suddenly be hospitalized. Any advice would be helpful and much appreciated!

February 28, 2018 10:51 pm

THANK YOU for sharing about your prep days! I just did a March prep day and I’ve never felt so ahead of the game heading into a new month. I bought birthday cards for our seven close friends and relatives celebrating this month (March is our big month!), planned one daughter’s classroom birthday celebration and family party, bought everything for Easter baskets (technically April, but I didn’t want to put that off), organized a date night, and booked a Mommy and Me class to try with my toddler. This idea is so up my alley and I’m so excited about. Can’t thank you enough for sharing about it.

March 2, 2018 12:44 am
Reply to  Em

I have two preschoolers and a baby – the older ones are each getting a chocolate bunny, jelly beans, an Easter-themed Pez, a pastel rubber ducky, a sticker activity book, sunglasses, and glitter jelly shoes. (It’s basically a basket of stuff I usually say “no” to!) The baby is getting a rubber ducky, plastic keys, and a couple of sensory bottles. Fresh sidewalk chalk and bubbles are also good go-tos!