No time for friends as a working parent? Try a new concept called ‘bundling’

In the chaos of managing a career, keeping the house clean, family schedules, nd the overload of parenting duties it may seem impossible to find time for meaningful adult friendships. Well, research says stop that!

Whether you are parenting toddlers or teenagers or welcoming your first baby, it can seem like a daunting challenge to balance work and family life let alone throwing a friend-life into the mix. Friendships rarely make the cut. But, basic research in psychology indicates that’s a big problem! According to the Association for Psychological Science, friends are a key contributor to not only the mental well-being of working parents but to their career success as well.

Friends are important. Friendships provide a safe haven to share secrets, create a network of people we can count on during an emergency, and offer an escape when one is needed. This abstract from the Springer Linkindicates close friendships allow us to find stronger emotional well-being. Friendships are so important to our well-being that they even affect our physiology. For example, if we have a reliable network of friends we are even less likely to catch a cold.

And for those of you looking for the benefits directly related to advancing your career, consider the value in having someone you can turn to for an ‘outsiders’ view of your internal work situations or to escape your workload and/or other stressors and enjoy a calming happy hour.

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Unfortunately, even with so much research done on the topic, it seems as though prioritizing our relationships with friends continues to decline as we get older. The priority peeks in our teen years and declines the most when we enter our 20s and 30s, which is coincidentally the time frame in which many begin having children.

The Solution

Friendships are often created and nurtured by enjoying shared experiences. This can include doing a yoga class together, having coffee dates regularly at your mutually favorite coffee bar, or attending your children’s sporting events together. And we know how well events such as paint and sips and wine tastings seem to do.

Well, the Harvard Business School, the inspiration for and original publisher of this topic, is exploring new scholarly research they are deeming ‘bundling.’ “Bundling is the creation of shared experience by way of combining or bundling together two friends’ mundane life tasks,” authors explain in a recent article. Researchers indicate the idea is that instead of trying to find time for a book club in your already hectic schedule, you instead attempt to pick a task that you are already doing on your own, like shopping for groceries, cooking dinner, or even reading bedtime stories.

How it Works

The authors indicate the idea is then to reach out to your social circle and find out what friends are doing the same thing. So, when it’s time to shop for groceries, head to the same place as your friend at the same time, and talk to them while you shop. Or, as they further outline in the article, when you are gearing up to cook dinner, connect with your friend via Facetime and chat while you both are preparing meals. Connect via Zoom when each of you is reading stories to your kids and let each other listen in.

Harvard authors add, “Bundling allows us to include friends in our messy lives. Unlike a happy hour, bundling doesn’t sacrifice any of our precious free time and you don’t even need to leave the house.”

with the abundance of technology in today’s world, it makes the idea of ‘bundling’ even more realistic.

For more ‘bundling tips’ and to read the full article published by Harvard Business Review, visit here. 

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