Growing up with brothers, I never really understood the concept of sisterhood. It seemed to me that my friends with sisters were always fighting, competing and annoying each other, so I never felt that I was missing out on anything.

And then I had children.

The women I needed after giving birth were my mother and mother in law, who fussed over me in those early days with a newborn and helped take care of us in those first weeks. As the baby stage quickly morphed into toddler-hood, my girlfriends became indispensable, as we commiserated over tantrums and why sometimes you really do cry over spilled (breast!) milk. It was often the need to get out of the house and speak to other adults whose vocabulary consisted of more than the word “no.” As my kids entered the preschool years, the women I met at groups and at morning drop-offs became cherished and invaluable, as we helped each other juggle pickups, spelled each other off for play dates, and just generally provided each other with affirmation that we not in fact a bad moms because our older child pushed the baby down the stairs while we stood 10 feet away (hypothetically, of course). The realization that “ALL-KIDS-ARE-LIKE-­THAT-OH-THANK-GOODNESS-IT’S-NOT-JUST-ME!” is a relief like no other.

We all need other women in our life: to love, support, nurture, fuss over and make us laugh until we hurt. And just as we need time to connect with our partners and families, we also need that precious time to connect with those ladies who really get us. It can be a challenge to navigate initially because with so many people at home needing things from us, it’s natural to feel guilty for stealing time away for people who have never spit up in your hair. But that in itself is the very reason it is so essential. Your “sisters from another mother” have been there too.

Four ways to make time for your girlfriends

At home playdate: The simplest way to get together is to invite a friend or two over for coffee. Don’t worry if the layer of Goldfish crumbs disguises the real colour of your floors. Nobody will notice, and if they do, it will only be to briefly think “oh good, I’m not the only one.” A few hours of adult conversation while the children sing the entire score of Frozen to each other (or even nap!) can be a welcome respite in a monotonous day.

Take the show on the road: Whether you go to the playground for a picnic, an indoor playground to escape the weather, or letting your kids rearrange the packaged coffees at your local coffee shop (of course I’m not endorsing this, ahem), this is another great way to get away with a girlfriend when you can’t escape your broods.

But when you can leave the kids behind…

Dinner with the girls

Going out for dinner with the girls is always fun and definitely worth the effort!

A Date! A pedicure & lunch or dinner & a movie, it doesn’t really matter what you choose to do. It’s infinitely satisfying when you can take a few hours out of the day to catch up without interruption. My personal favorite is the pedicure because I fall asleep instantly in the theatre sitting in the massaging chair, gossiping with a girlfriend while someone else makes my feet look pretty is awesome. Having a meal that you don’t have to prepare while dodging toddlers or eat while dictating manners makes it that much better!

Girls Weekend! This is the Holy Grail for any mom. The moment when the stars align, we kiss our kids goodbye and escape to spend time away with our favorite friends. I recently returned from a girl’s weekend to Sparkling Hill Resort & Spa, where 12 of us lived almost every mom’s fantasy. We were lucky to find this gem of a place conveniently located within driving distance of the four cities from which we converged. No sooner did we get there, we started contriving ways to come back. It was as epic as it sounds and even more so than we imagined. Three lovely days spent steaming, swimming, wine touring and pampering. And because some things never change, we ate lots of snacks, braided each others hair, painted our nails and spent hours in our rooms talking about boys. It was like high school all over again, but without the drama!

Room party

Ultimately, it’s essential that we carve out two hours or two days, in a living room or a in rose-scented sauna, and take time to nurture ourselves and our relationships with these women who will help us wash our child’s vomit out of our hair and somehow make us laugh about it.