One recent Saturday evening my husband and I were driving home. As we passed the homes in our neighborhood I imagined those people getting ready for an evening out. Maybe getting ready to go to a downtown restaurant, or just drinks and appetizers at a bar or meeting up with friends. And all of a sudden I wished I was doing the same. Instead, I was headed home to cook dinner, fold clothes, mediate arguments between a two and three year old, and spend two hours trying to get them to bed.
Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t trade my life for all of the nights out on the town in the world, but with two young children and a baby on the way, it does get harder and harder for my husband and I to carve out quality time together. Regular date nights are great, but paying for a sitter can get pricey, especially with the cost of the actual date. So how do my husband and I make sure we have time to reconnect and communicate in the midst of our busy lives without breaking the bank?
First off, in order to find any alone time together we have to be proactive about getting the kids to bed earlier. Sometimes this even means cutting their naps short to ensure they’ll fall asleep more quickly at night.
Once the kids are in bed, we can attempt to have an in-home date night. We usually shoot for once a week, though in reality it doesn’t always happen. During weeks where we’re both exhausted we usually just snuggle up on the couch and watch an episode of the latest show we’re into (most recently it’s been Suits), and on Sunday nights we have the tradition of making pizza and watching football. While the time near each other is definitely relaxing and enjoyable, it isn’t ideal either, as it doesn’t give us much time to chat and share our hearts.
So, when we want true quality time, we get out some snacks and play board games together (our new favorite is Pandemic) or just sit on the couch and catch up. Sometimes we pull out the book, “If Questions for the Soul,” which usually brings up unique and interesting conversations. Hopefully in the next few weeks, once our basement is complete, we’ll finally be able to put together this puzzle Adam bought me a few years ago with the specific intention of it being a way to have more quality time together. (With little kids we’ve just never had the space to put it together before.)
And finally in the past year we’ve made it a priority to go out on a real date once a month. However, since we’re living on one income, it can be difficult to swing. Instead, one thing we’ve done is set up a babysitting swap with another couple. Once a month they watch our kids so that we can go out and once a month we watch their kids so that they can go out. It has definitely made us look forward to going out more since we know it won’t be as costly.
For us, reconnecting really needs to happen in the evenings, but we know other couples who get up early in the morning before the kids wake and chat over their cups of coffee. Really, it doesn’t matter when or how a couple finds quality time, as long as it actually happens. Nurturing our relationships must be a priority if we want our love to grow and thrive, especially once there are children in the picture. Parents who love each other well is one of the greatest gifts we can give our children, not only because it gives them security, but also because it is through us that they will learn how to love their future spouses.