I’ve met moms before who brag that they’ve never left their children (who may be a few years old!) with anyone else. I think they are expecting glory and praise, but I have to stifle my first reaction, which is always “I’m so sorry to hear that!”
I’m sure Frannie was only a few weeks old when we enjoyed our first quick dinner out, and only four months old when a teenager kept her so we could clean out my husband’s new classroom for a couple of hours. (Not exactly romantic, but time together nonetheless!) We’re fortunate that we can afford babysitters, and we go out at least once or twice a month without the kids. Sometimes it’s some sort of social obligation, like a wedding or work party, but more often it’s a date-standard like a movie. Either way, it’s some time away from our responsibilities. While the girls were infants it was more difficult, especially when breastfeeding a lot and sleeping a little, but we managed to get through on the ‘banked’ time we had previously invested.
We only go away overnight a couple of times a year, but that’s more than many parents, and of course only happens because we’re lucky enough to have Grandma and Grandpa who are able to keep the girls. Next on our list is to take an actual week away for the first time since our honeymoon (I’d like someplace touristy, but my husband’s insisting on rest and relaxation somewhere south) but that’s just not in the budget this year.
Code stresses though that it’s the little things that are the most important: everyone can’t do the whirlwind trips to Paris, and it’s the small, regular habits that make the biggest difference, like sitting on the deck and enjoying a glass of wine after the kids have gone to bed, or even while they watch a video or just play quietly in their rooms. Kids learn independence and problem-solving when they have to entertain themselves.
We often take advantage of afternoon nap time, and get a sitter or just enjoy a movie rental while the girls sleep. (Well, Maggie sleeps, and Frannie plays in her room.) That way we’re not losing out on valuable family-time, because the alternative would be doing chores or schoolwork while the girls have their downtime…tasks which sometimes need to be firmly placed on the backburner. (This is very hard for me! If I haven’t crossed five things off my list, I don’t consider naptime productive. Maybe I need to write down couple-time, so I have the satisfaction of crossing it off!)
A goal that my husband I need to strive for is to talk less about work during our time together, which will be easier over the summer holidays, but is a challenge during the year. We are both in education, so when we’re not talking about our own children, we’re sharing stories about our staffs and students and catching up on each other’s work lives.
Now, let’s be clear: we love our kids, are thrilled to be parents, and enjoy spending time with our beautiful daughters. But not every waking minute of every single day. I truly believe it’s healthier for our kids when we have some time together, and for that reason I’ll be reading “To Raise Happy Kids, Put Your Marriage First” this summer.
Then there’s alone time for mommy…a whole other topic, and fodder for a future post here at This Mom Loves!
How do you and your partner make time to be together? Do you get enough? Do you even see it as a priority when your children are young, or do you disagree with me (and the author) completely? Share your thoughts!