It's commonly accepted that parents don't get to go out at night. This is such a cliche that it's a staple of TV comedies and it seems like most Americans accept it as a commonplace: you have kids, and thus have no adult social life (barring occasional date nights if you are lucky enough to have a reliable babysitter or family close by).
This is totally not true for me. I go out all the time with my friends. Looking back at the last month, I went out at least once a week (and often more): dinners, cooking class, drinks, book clubs...If anything, I go out more now than I did before R was born (because I want the mental break more after baby wrangling all day long; plus we have more money now so I don't have to be as conscious of my recreational spending). And in this I am typical for expats here (obviously, since I'm not going out by myself); in fact, I go out less than average.
Partly this is probably a function of the special childcare situation here: most people never have to worry about finding a babysitter (since they have a full-time, live-in maid) and are thus free to go out every single evening if they feel like it. But after all I have no maid, so I don't think that's really the full explanation.
For me it's incredibly simple. R always takes a bath with B directly after dinner, he changes her into pajamas, I read her 1-3 books and then lights out and into her crib. The bath can take quite a while (it's their bonding time so they play all sorts of games in there) but everything else is about 10 minutes, so anyone could do it (let alone highly capable B). When she was younger and still nursing as part of the bedtime routine, it was more complicated (I had to pump and leave supplies: what a hassle; plus she disliked this and would cry a lot), but that was really only for the first year. After that, though she was still nursing, she could have cows' milk as necessary.
So all that's seemingly required for an active social life as a mother is an agreeable husband. (I know some people lack this--single mothers, for instance--but that doesn't explain the near-universal cliche of parents staying at home all the time). Why don't all mothers go out? Even if your husband works late or travels, it's the rare person who isn't home at least half the time.
Maybe it's just a cultural expectation: Americans expect both parents to stay at home and give up virtually all their adult social lives, while expats (most of whom here aren't American) don't? Maybe B is just a really indulgent husband? If I go out more than twice in a week he gets a bit grumbly, but otherwise doesn't mind, even when I come home drunk at 1 am (this happened once, don't worry!).
I feel like I'm missing something.