It’s hard to create a good work-life-family balance. Even when you have all of the right tools, things get pushed off until later and, a lot of the time, the things that you push off because they seem frivolous or indulgent are the things you need to do the most, just to stay sane.
Nowhere is this more true than in your primary relationship. So many parents put off all of the fun “couple stuff” of their relationship in favor of the parenting and home running parts of their relationships, but here’s the truth: simply being under the same roof at the same time is not the same thing as spending time together. You need to make time for each other as humans or all of the other relationships in your life (including the ones you have with your kids) will suffer.
One of the best ways to make sure that you and your partner connect is to institute a regular date night. If you’re lucky you’ll be able to have date night once a week. It’s okay if you’re not that lucky. Just make sure that you have a date night at least once a month.
What Makes a Great Date Night?
Here is what you need for a perfect date night: alone time with your partner. Yes, you love your children and pets but they do not belong at date night. In the beginning, it’s good to set up date nights like actual dates. Go out in the evening. Leave the kids with the grandparents or a sitter and go have dinner and maybe take in a movie. Make sure that the movie you see is not a family film. Now is the time to indulge in the movies that you never get to see anymore–the ones for grownups (have you seen the trailer for Fifty Shades of Grey yet? Talk about a date night movie!).
Over time you’ll get used to the idea of taking time just for yourselves and you can get a little bit more creative. Whatever you do, don’t skip it just because you’re tired. Go out even if you’re tired, just choose something low key!
Graduating to Staying In
When we say “staying in” we aren’t talking about skipping the date! We just got done telling you not to do that! What we’re talking about here is staying home alone, without the kids. Set up a sleepover or a weekend with relatives or friends for your kids and then just, indulge in a staycation for yourselves.
The key to a great kid-free staycation is to take care of all of the chores ahead of time. This way you won’t send the kids out the door, turn around, and feel like you immediately have to start cleaning or doing laundry. Pack that stuff in to the days leading up to the weekend so that all you and your partner have to do is relax.
A staycation is great because it gives you the chance to do all of the things you don’t get to do anymore because, as much as you love them, the kids and their very definite opinions and high energy levels divert your attention elsewhere. Read a whole book without being interrupted. Play video games that don’t involve children’s cartoon characters or learning games. Take a bath! Cook the food your kids say smells funny or is gross tasting. You get the idea.
The point is to make time for each other. Studies have shown that couples who let their relationships slide have more problems than those who make time for each other regularly. And, since we’re on the subject, make time to connect with each other every day. Take time before falling to sleep to talk quietly or…other fun things. Even a quick hug once a day is better than nothing!