Parents are busy, whether their kids are in a brick and mortar school or if they are educated from home. Some of us have healthy children, while some parent medically fragile children. What might seem like “easy peasy lemon squeezy” to a Mom with five, six, or seven kids may be daunting to a Mom with one or two. Regardless of our role, our circumstances, whether we are working inside or outside of our homes, life can get busy. I’ve worked part time, full time, stay at home, and work at home. My children have been healthy, but there have been seasons in our life where we have exhausted our minds, bodies, and spirits fostering and having temporary guardianship of children who were physically abused, abusive, and emotionally unequipped to function in or process typical family life. During the entire time, I’ve had a spouse who easily worked 40-60 hours a week. Whether you look at all that is this life as a joy or a burden, it’s safe to say your time, like mine, is sometimes eaten up by various commitments and activities. Your life might look like an entirely different life from the one you imagined when you said “I Do.” More likely than not, there are little people (or bigger people) that call you Mom or Mommy and they need you…a lot.
I’ve been married to my husband for twenty-four years. We have basically raised two children and are on our second “wave” with our eight and nine year old. We are also knees deep in paperwork, wading through the licensing process in our current state to foster and potentially adopt an infant to three year old. One thing I think we have done well, is finding time for each other. It’s non-negotiable and necessary. It is worth the time investment and the prep work on both of our parts. It might not always look like long periods of time alone. In fact, in the last three years, there was only one weekend trip where we were completely alone. I remember it well, because our flight home was delayed and my youngest was having a meltdown at home and my oldest couldn’t comfort her or assure her that we would indeed return. Before that trip, it had been two years since we had a weekend away, and then two years before that. I’m sensing a trend as I write this and we are OVER DUE for a weekend alone.
When we chose to homeschool, the first thought they crossed my mind was that we would have zero time for each other and I would have zero time to myself. I prayed a lot during that decision making period and felt in my heart that if I was dutiful and obedient in my calling to take my kids home and teach them, God would take care of the rest. I truly believe that He was as faithful to me as I was to the strong tug on my heart to homeschool my kids. I have received an overflowing of blessing because of it. As a matter of fact, we have more time as a couple now, than we did when the kids were in public school. I know that sounds impossible. We just made a plan out loud to invest more time in each other. We are not in this union JUST to nurture, love, and grow these children. It is important to nurture, love, and grow this marriage and commitment to each other (and to God.)
It’s such a misnomer, the “we don’t have time for dates” self and marriage sabotage message that we tell ourselves. Consider this a message of hope for implementing date days and date nights into your own daily life. There is time. There is a place. You can find childcare. Stop making excuses, Mama. Start loving on the man or woman that you decided to raise this family with. Oh, and take care of yourself, too. Just like the instructions during an on-flight safety briefing. You need to put on your own oxygen mask before helping the person beside you.
You may ask…what does that look like? First things first. Let’s start by taking care of ourselves. I am awful at follow through on this. I have learned that doing anything for 21 days is supposed to imprint that practice as something more permanent. So, for the next 21 days I am promising myself the following:
- Drink more water. I have a stainless steel bottle I love. It’s pretty and functional to my preference (no straw, flip top, handle and carabiner clip.)
- Take a daily multivitamin. I use a commonly sold, basic vitamin geared toward pre-menopausal or menopausal women, by One A Day.
- Go to bed and wake at the same time (within the hour). We wake naturally and try to respect our bodies and minds by getting to bed at a decent hour. It’s not always perfect, but I have made it a point to go to bed with my husband every night. Work can wait. Chores can wait. I love falling asleep beside this person ❤ It helps that we just bought a ridiculously huge and comfortable mattress a few weeks ago. We switched bedframes, too.
- Get outside every day! We have been walking in our neighborhood, at a near by park, and spending time in our own back yard (where we soon hope to do some gardening.)
- Find a Mom mentoring group near you, similar to MOPS, Moms Next, Mom 2 Mom. They are usually located at a local church. There you will find encouragement, friendship, good food, hot coffee, childcare, and camaraderie.
Simple enough, right? You’d think! I can’t give myself more than four or five things to do or I will get overwhelmed and ruin it with my “all or nothing” attitude. So, I’m keeping it simple. I’ll add more in 21 more days! I do a much better job at taking care of others. Nurturing is in my nature. Even as a child, I played teacher, Mom, and Caroline “Ma” Ingalls from Little House on the Prairie. Since my husband and I started a keto diet plan and intermittent fasting, I have been much better at self-care.
There is one weekday evening that bridges the gap between being parents and being human beings that crave time together. That beloved day gives my husband and I a connection point when we feel like we are swimming in a sea of family business. During the evening, when the kids are well cared for by people we trust (and this was hard for me…to turn over my precious kiddos for an activity I don’t help with) my husband and I go on a date. It is completely dreamy. It. Is. Necessary. Our time together sparks the most creative ideas. We do our best team work. We just listen to each other. Often, great things are revealed and we grow our relationship. I look forward to it every single week. Maybe this isn’t a season where you can physically leave your children in the care of others for a period of time? Regardless of your situation, here are a few pointers for carving out couple time:
- Don’t make all of your conversations center around the children’s day, behavior, schedule, or antics. Talk about how much you missed each other. Make it a point to have a goal together,
- Make it a point to greet each other when one comes home. I know that might sound antiquated, but hear me out. Even on your cruddiest day, everyone can muster up the strength to brush their teeth, give a genuine smile, and exchange a hug and a kiss. Imagine shifting the focus from two people colliding with “my day has been horrible, empathize with me” to “some parts of today sucked, but I’m glad we are in the same suck place now, hugging…with fresh breath.”
- Have some guidelines in place for things that are “must haves” for keeping caught up around the house. This is a joint effort. In our home, whoever is coming home, comes home to a freshened up space and calm family. It’s something our kids are also accustomed to. They help whichever parent is on the receiving end. I think it’s part of our love language, each of us working to make the other have a little easier time of it. We like to call it “setting each other up for success.”
- Make meals together! Oh my gosh, has this been a saving grace in our household. We are both pretty good cooks! We crank up the music, dance around, sing, include the kids if they are interested, and we prepare meals together.
There is a lot of busy in each of our days. My job during the day currently consists of teaching our children, writing, and running my blog and homeschool coaching service. Right now, my husband’s office is about 4 miles away. During the day, we are each working. In the evening we come together (why does this feel like the intro to PJ Masks?) and we work for our family. That reframe has done wonders for both of us over the last twenty-four years. It’s not my job to do everything within the walls of this house. It’s not his job to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders providing for us. We build each other up, encourage each other, love on each other, and show our kids what a healthy marriage and partnership can look like. Whatever season you are in, work together to find the joy in it.
All these years later, we work hard to make time for each other. It might mean sacrificing extra work time, commitments to other activities, or the opportunity to volunteer for a group or club. We are each worth it to ourselves and to each other to make the time, to work a little harder ahead of our date night to have things in place FOR our date night. We practice self-care and we care for each other. Those are all non-negotiables. The payoff is exponential. We are oozing love…for Jesus, for each other, for ourselves. It spills over into our kids lives, into our work, into our lifestyle, and really…is there any such thing as too much love? What are you going to do to implement date day practices in your own relationship? I’d love to hear your ideas!