Do you ever feel that after years of marriage and raising kids, you and your spouse will have to introduce yourself to each other again? As time goes by, we all change as we experience new things; both good and maybe not so good. Raising kids is such a rewarding experience and an honor in our lives, but let’s face it, a great amount of focus is on the kids that there is not much extra time or energy for our spouse.
Most people did not get a chance to take a parenting class when they were in high school. If they did, it probably did not prepare them 100% for being a parent. Parents are occupied trying to learn what needs to be done, adjusting to new schedules, making bottles, changing diapers, and catching a few naps where they can when the kids are babies.
Then the toddler years come and parents are spending their time trying to keep up with them. I don’t know where the toddlers get their energy from. Then the school years come and there is that thing called “homework”. While the homework is designed for the kids, parents are also very involved in it. They have to make sure it is done, check the homework, and assist with questions related to it.
As they get older, more after school activities start. This is a great way to keep them busy, learning, and interacting with others, but parents are usually going in different directions to get them to and from activities. I don’t know how some parents do what they do. It takes a great deal of planning and coordinating to achieve this.
Dinner has to be made too after working in or outside of the home. There is never such a thing as all of the laundry being done and put away, well maybe there is for about 30 minutes, but not much longer than that.
It’s Prom time and if you have a daughter there is a lot of shopping that needs to be done to find that perfect dress, shoes, and jewelry. It is a little easier with boys, but there are still many choices for tuxes to decide from. Then it is time to pick out graduation rings.
Before you know it, they are walking down the aisle with cap and gown and switching the tassel to the other side of the cap as they graduate from high school. Next they are moving away to college or to live on their own.
The house is empty. There is no place to bring the kids, there is less laundry, and dinner is simpler now. It is as if you are not sure what to talk about anymore. You and your spouse have been talking for years, but most of the conversations have been centered around the kids.
It is so critical that couples do not lose track of who they each are and more importantly, who they are together. While there may not be enough time, energy, and money to go on dates together, it is vital that some time be set aside for just the two of you.
Dinner and a movie is a great deal of money, and if you have to pay for a baby sitter too, there is just not enough money in the budget for this. Think outside of the box. If you have family close by, it may be easier to get a free babysitter, but if you don’t, there are still options available.
You can make time as a couple once the kids go to bed. Check out what is on cable, Netflix, or Redbox, to watch a movie and pop some popcorn. Board games and card games can also be played and do not cost anything.
Another possibly includes alternating with friends and watching each other’s kids. This can be a win-win, especially if the kids enjoy being with the other kids.
If you are able to have a date outside of the house, search for free events in your area. Many communities have bands that play outdoors on certain days and you bring your lawn chairs, listen, visit, and dance to the music. There are beautiful parks around that are great for dates too.
There is nothing wrong with talking about the kids, but during date time, this should be dedicated to just both of you as an individual and couple, without discussion of work or kids.
Can you answer any of these questions about your spouse?
- Favorite color
- Favorite chips
- Favorite candy bar
- Favorite cake
- Favorite cookie
- Favorite childhood memory
- Favorite TV show growing up
- What is on their bucket list?
- What are their hopes and dreams of the future?
- What age do they want to retire?
- What do they want to do after they retire?
If you can’t answer these questions, it is time to start with date nights. Some couples try to have one night a week for date night, but if that is too difficult, try every other week or at least once a month.
Find that time during the years of raising kids to get away as a couple so that you continue to know and learn about each other. Don’t wait until the nest is empty to start doing things as a couple.