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I'm a little bummed. I got a text from a faraway friend who is going to be in my city next week, but it happens to be on a day I will not be around. It is one of those spontaneous meetings that just didn't work out and I am trying to take comfort in the fact that I will see her again in a few months for our twice-a-year gals getaway.

That missed opportunity made me think about my time with friends: It is special and precious and memorable. It also made me realize that my son has reached an age when he doesn't need me around as much and for the first time in ages, I have my own free time again.

What to do with all that found time?

One smart option would be to spend more time with my friends. A series of studies researching friendships and health over time have found that friendships have a stronger affect on our health as we age than family does.

It's important to remember that the effect goes both ways: So toxic friendships can stress us out and affect our health adversely just as easily as happy friendships can give us a boost in our lives when we need it the most.

Most parents have a hard time mixing friends into the mix of their new families - it's difficult to balance baby and work and sleep and time with your spouse and friends. Because of that, friends fall by the wayside...but they are still there. True friends are still there for when you are ready to pick up right where you left off.

How do you make time for your friends? Tell me in the comments.

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