How to Be a Good Girlfriend (When You're a Busy Bee)
You're firing off emails, scheduling calls, writing blog posts, trying to be present on social media, making dinner, sweeping floors, and still trying to sleep at night. How do you fit in a social life when you feel like you're buzzing around like the very definition of a busy bee?
How do we invest in and prioritize our relationships-- with our family, friends, and significant others?
In short, how can we be good girlfriends when we're busy bees?
Here are a few practical tips to make sure our people feel loved and appreciated in the midst of the busyness of everyday life and business.
send a quick message
We might not have half an hour for a phone call to catch up in between all the appointments and to-do's penciled into our planners, but we can send a quick text to see how a friend's doing.
This works for friends we haven't seen in a while and friends, family, or significant others we see several times a week. Everyone likes to know that they're being thought of!
Even just a simple, "Hey! I was thinking about you this morning. How have you been?" communicates that we care, that we haven't forgotten our friends, and that we want to know how they're doing. It also opens the door for further conversation and the possibility of planning an in-person get-together or phone call later on when we do have more time for it.
make note of birthdays
One of the easiest ways we can show our people that we care is to remember their birthdays!
Making note of someone's birthday is such a simple way to build and strengthen a relationship. Consider the difference between having only your parents, sister, and best friend wish you happy birthday compared to having ten of your friends call or text you with best wishes. There's a big difference, right?
Birthdays matter. We like to think they don't sometimes, but they really do. And other people's birthdays are an easy way for us to show how much we care.
Depending on a handful of factors like the type of relationship we have with them and geographical distance, we might celebrate these birthdays differently, but there are several ways we can show love to our people on their birthdays.
We can send a card.
We can send a text.
We can call.
We can simply show up (whether they're expecting it or not).
We can throw a party.
set reminders to message people
It might sound too rigid or unnatural, but we can also set reminders to message or call our people. Of course, in a perfect world, we wouldn't need reminders. We would call our moms and message our college roommates regularly just because we're thinking of them and want to stay connected.
But we all know our world isn't perfect. Our lives are incredibly busy, and sometimes we need reminders to keep the most important things top of mind. There's no shame in using reminders (either written or digital, like through an app)!
One of my favorite ways is to utilize the "call/email" section of the weekly page in my planner each week. I love that there's a specific space dedicated to that each week! If that's not the case for you, you could easily make a note in the margin of your planner or calendar with the name of someone you want to connect with that week, too.
I like to write names down for a few weeks ahead so I always have someone to connect with and touch base with. I often write a few names for one week because once I get started, it's hard to stop! Connecting with one friend brings me so much joy that I want to connect with them all! But I also know that writing down just a few each week is more sustainable.
ask for prayer requests
Reaching out with text messages to ask someone how they're doing is great, but sometimes we need it to go beyond small talk. Asking friends for prayer requests is a great way to accomplish that!
One of the best ways my college roommates and I have managed to stay in touch since we graduated and went our separate ways has been to ask each other for prayer requests and offer up our own.
We have a group message going, but we don't typically just update it with tidbits of life or everyday conversations. We do, however, share big milestones in the form of praises for ways God has been moving and providing, and we share struggles and challenges with requests for specific prayers.
Not only does this keep us talking regularly, but it keeps up a deep level of connection as we dive far beyond small talk with each other and work to maintain a level of intimacy similar to what we shared when we lived together and saw one another every day.
It's definitely not the same as seeing their faces regularly, but it's a close second!
plan regular get-togethers
Life is busy. We all know that. And it doesn't seem like it's going to be slowing down anytime soon. So if we want to truly invest in our relationships, we have to be intentional with them. We have to plan time to spend with our people.
If we don't make plans and put them on our calendars, the chances of them actually happening plummet to the ground. "We should get coffee sometime!" becomes nothing more than a sweet-sounding sentiment.
It's nobody's fault; we all meant to grab coffee, but if we don't pick a day and coffee shop, we'll let the busyness of life take over, and we'll be stuck making our coffee at home or going through the drive-thru on the way to our next meeting or yoga class.
To make plans we'll actually stick to, we need to get them on our calendars. And if we're looking to build strong friendships (which I think we all are, am I right?), it helps tremendously if those plans have some sort of regularity to them.
I've been a part of a community group through my church for over four years, and while the members of the group have changed some over the years, it's been one of the most wonderfully consistent things in my life. Those friendships have become so strong and deep as we've continued meeting, and that wouldn't have been the case if we hadn't all been committed to showing up every Thursday.
I also have regular family nights with my parents and sister on Mondays. What we do varies with the seasons, but we've been setting aside our Monday nights for the last several years as a time to reconnect. Of course, we're not going to really go our separate ways, but since my sister and I moved out, it's proven to be a good way to stay involved in one another's lives.
These regular get-togethers of ours don't have to be weekly dinners. They could be monthly coffee dates or bi-weekly walks around the local park. They could even be Skype dates or phone calls. The way we connect with our people isn't as important as choosing to connect and to do it regularly.
do regular things together
Sometimes it feels like trying to engage in relationships with others is just one more thing on our never-ending to-do lists. I hear you. I'm willing to bet most of us don't have room to add another thing to our plates.
Allow me to suggest a different option.
What if we simply invited people into things we're already doing?
Now this isn't my idea, but I'm a big fan of it. I love engaging with my people, but I don't always have time to schedule a coffee date or a girls' night.
Sometimes my time with friends looks more like this: find a recipe that sounds good, each of us picks up half the ingredients to cobble it together with things at my house, we start half an hour later than planned because one or the other of us lost track of time, we catch up while we cook, we savor the delicious food and talk some more about life and work and faith and good food and how summer's ending too soon, and then we end the night short because we're grandmas and go to bed early.
Sometimes it looks like grocery shopping together. Other times it involves going for a walk together so we can get in our exercise for the day. It might mean going to a class at the gym with a friend for you, or taking a cooking class, or weeding your garden, or going for a bike ride, or shopping for a new dress.
If there's something you have planned that you could invite someone else to join you in, that's the perfect opportunity to invest in relationship in the everyday moments of life!
One of the simplest and best ways we can all be good girlfriends to all the people in our lives is to be present when we're with them.
Whether we get to spend as much time with our friends, family, and significant others as we'd like or not, we can give them the gift of our full attention.
If we're running through tomorrow's schedule or our grocery list in our heads when we're eating dinner with a friend or significant other, we're not giving them the attention they deserve.
One way I've found to practice presence better is to put my phone away. It's often close enough that I can check it to know what time it is and make sure I haven't missed any urgent calls, but I don't reply to text messages or emails or scroll through social media when I'm with my people. I can do that on my own time. I want to make the most of the time I have with them because it seems like there's never quite enough of it.
My family has been trying out a "no phones at the table" rule for dinner, and I'm loving it! Instead of being interrupted by buzzing and chiming, we're free to engage in conversation and laugh at each other's stories and jokes. Our attention is much more devoted, and we all feel like we're better connected without our phones being the center of our focus. Maybe a similar approach would work for you, too!
Consider the answers to these reflection questions so you can be a great girlfriend!
Who can you send a quick text message to today?
Who has a birthday coming up that you can join in celebrating?
How can you make regular reminders to engage with your people?
Who can you reach out to this week to ask if they have any prayer requests?
Who can you make regular plans with?
What are you already doing that your friends could join you for?
How can you practice presence around your people?