Hey, what if in addition to Sunday brunch, May brought us mom’s a night out without the kids—or the hubs? Sounds good, right?
I don’t know why I’m just hearing about this now, but apparently, for the past four years, National Mom’s Nite Out (also known as National Moms’ Night Out, among other interesting variations) has been gaining momentum and attention as millions of ladies and their playground pals get some much-deserved “we time.”
I mean, sure, you can do this other evenings in other months, but isn’t it nice to have it codified and encouraged for once? Kinda sets the tone for the rest of the year, if you do it right.
Don’t think of it as deserting your family. Think of it as your own just desserts.
Here’s what we love about Mom’s Nite Out: When we get to refresh, renew, and have a little fun, we are better moms. It’s only natural that we spend our days putting everyone else’s needs above our own—that’s our job, and we knew it when we signed up. But even the most indefatigable mom needs to recharge. In a world where a solo trip to the grocery store feels like a vacation (amirite?), taking a few hours with our friends, with nobody interrupting or tugging on our clothes, is a life-sustaining act.
Here’s what we maybe don’t love so much: What are we supposed to do with ourselves? We all saw what happened when Leslie Mann and Catherine Heigl tried to go clubbing in Knocked Up. I, for one, feel both ancient and bored at Happy Hour, and crave a livelier get-together. If that’s you, too, here are some ideas that’ll keep the “whee!” in your “we time.”
Hire a Fortune Teller
When her husband went out of town, my friend Suzy seized upon the opportunity to infest her home with her lady-friends and hired a fortune-teller for the evening. She tried to create as dramatic an atmosphere as possible: A table with two chairs was set up in a sun-room, and the rest of them parked inside the living room, where they could watch, but not hear. One by one, they went in; meanwhile, as each came out, they sat around with large glasses of wine debriefing each session. The point wasn’t whether she was right. It was the conversations sparked by her insights, and the feelings inspired when she seemed on point. “Of course it was hooey, but it was memorable hooey,” Suzy says.
Find It: Gigmasters and Gig Salad are national sites where local performers like mentalists, psychics, and tarot card readers list their services. Though if they were really so good, wouldn’t they just know to show up the night of your party?
Paint the Town Red
Remember the respite of going to art class when you were in grade school—or later? Admit it: Sometimes when you’re watching your kids express themselves through a project, you just want to grab the paintbrush and do it right. Sure, you could sign up for a local class, but for $65, you get an experienced teacher, supplies, canvases, and the encouragement of the rest of your group—in a lovely bar setting with drinks at the ready, should you need a little liquid courage. After two hours, you’ll walk out with a finished painting (that’s the theory, anyway).
Find It: Paint Nite and Pinot’s Palette are national, but you should also check Groupon for local deals. And yes: Paint-your-own-pottery studios often have ladies’ nights, and that is my outing of choice. Now you know.
Call it what you want: pub quiz, trivia night, trivia quiz—it’s all super fun. You gather your troops, you sign up, and you just hope that you don’t make the same mistake they made on The Office—naming yourselves The Einsteins and then missing the one question about Albert Einstein. The competitive component adds a big zing to your hen party, as long as you don’t have that one super-competitive friend who keeps urging everyone to take it seriously. (Wait, that’s still pretty funny.)
Find It: Start by doing a Web search for “trivia night” or “pub trivia” and the name of your town. Something is bound to pop up! (Karaoke night is similarly fun, but you already knew that.)
You’re probably used to smoking your friends (or being smoked—I might be projecting) at online Scrabble or smartphone Words With Friends. But how good are you when you don’t have a browser at the ready and you do have all the time in the world? Board game get-togethers aren’t the sole provenance of Jane Lynch and NBC (Hollywood Game Night? I kind of can’t believe that’s a show either, but whatevs).
Find It: San Francisco has a specialized board-game store that hosts game nights—for families, sure, and also for us Olds. You can search for one on your local Yelp or just bring Scrabble to your bar of choice.
Well, sure, you can all get matching tattoos—but that’s a pretty big commitment for the PTA moms, no? Instead, search your local area for “airbrush tattoos,” “body painting,” “henna tattoos,” or “adult body art,” though that last one is going to expose you to some annoying spring-break photos. An evening spent choosing and adorning yourselves with delightful designs, especially empowering ones related to your friendship and the challenges you’ve faced together as moms, is an evening well-spent indeed.
Find It: The above search will let you know of local practitioners, or you can do a group-buy of a kit, such as the ones available at G Body Art, Henna Mendhi, or Earth Henna, and take turns playing artist.
They’re popping up all over: table tennis clubs. Well, sure, you could also play pool, go bowling, hit the batting cages, or—if you’re lucky—a “trampoline park” like House of Air in San Francisco. The point is to try something physical, that’s not a Zumba class (I would die), where you can be goofy and laugh while waiting for your turn to not-shine. If you’re the gym-going type, then you don’t need an excuse to go out with friends—you probably already meet them for spin class three times a week, and also shut up, I hate you. If you’re an overwhelmed lady who needs to blow off some steam and hit stuff, you want something less organized and more forgiving. That’s the goal here.
Find It: A good place to start is the USA Table Tennis organization, which has a map of local chapters.
Craft Night: The Craftening
I feel terrible for the recipients of my crafted goods, but there you go: For me, noodling around with my fingers is immensely satisfying and keeps my hands too busy to bring the wine glass to my mouth as often as it seems to want to. The trouble is, I either have too many half-finished projects to commit to or not enough to hold my attention. For our next mom’s night out, my friends and I hired a crochet expert to take us through the basics and then teach us amigurumi, the art of making cute stuffed animals. I’ve also taken one-day classes in needle-felting at my local craft museum (they love hosting events like this, because you’re bound to buy something in the gift shop as well).
Find it: Yelp and Google are your friends, as is the local YMCA and museum, if you’re lucky enough to have one in your town.
Late Night At The Museum
Most museums have a First Fridays, After Dark, or other twilight extravaganza designed to showcase their collections alongside great music and terrible wine and cheese. Time Out has lists in their cities, but you can call your favorite museum and simply ask which night they’re open late. Even if you don’t know a Picasso from a Pissaro, the sheer joy of looking at pretty things without having to explain them—unless you want to—is priceless.
Amy Keyishian fled the east coast for the sunny climes of California, where she spends her time kvetching about how much better New York was. She has been a staff writer at Cosmo, a sex writer for Drill, and an everything else writer for everyone else. She has kids and pets and stuff.