While starting a family means a lot of “mores,” there are quite a few “lesses” for parents as well. Not as much time or communication. Minimal sleep. Less money. And hardly any privacy.
Despite busy schedules and the needs of your children, you and your spouse should find alone time. It builds intimacy, strengthens your bonds, and opens up communications. Plus, you are setting an example for your children. As they grow older, your healthy partnership will be one they will look back on as they enter their own relationships.
Alone time sounds ideal but how do you make it work in the real world? Start with a plan. Set aside, even days in advance, a certain time, evening or whenever you can for some moments alone with your spouse.
The easy thing to do is ask your nanny to stay late for an evening or call up a babysitter and get out of the house for date night. That may be something you can do once and a while but has some drawbacks. There are plenty of times, even with crazy schedules, for you and your partner to find yourselves alone together. It may be easier than you think and doesn’t necessarily mean hiring a babysitter.
When you do find alone time with your spouse, enjoy it! It’s not the time to vent about work, complain about your friends or even discuss the children.
Here are eight ways to get alone time with your spouse.
1. Meet Each Other for Lunch
It may be easier to find time during your work schedule than when you’re home with the kids. Treat your lunch like a first date and get to know each other all over again. Express your hopes and dreams with no “kid talk.” Discuss the book you’re reading or movie you’d like to see. If it’s hard to get together for lunch, schedule a time to call your spouse during the day just to talk.
2. Share a Quiet Evening Together
Make it a point, at least one night a week, to spend the evening together after the kids go to bed. No work. No cell phones or electronic devices. Leave the dirty dishes and unfolded laundry for another day. Try this on a Saturday night and make it a “dinner and a movie” date. Once bedtime stories are read and the kids are tucked into bed, enjoy a meal and a movie that doesn’t involve cartoon characters. Make it more romantic by adding wine and candles and even getting dressed up if you’d like.
3. Use Trusted Relatives or Friends as Free Child Care
Paying your nanny overtime or hiring a babysitter can get expensive after awhile. If you have family close by, ask if the kids can spend the night. Or invite them to spend the night at your house with the children and you and your spouse can get away. You can also set up a babysitting swap with friends or neighbors. Your friends will watch your children for an evening and then you return the favor.
4. Make Chores Fun
“Divide and conquer” is a popular strategy for many families. Each parent takes a list of things to do and goes their separate ways. Try doing a chore together whether it’s washing dishes or doing yard work. Any number of mundane tasks may suddenly be more joyful if you share the duty with your partner.
5. Turn TV Time into Your Time
Yes, screen time should be kept to a minimum, especially with young children. But, if they have a favorite show and will be ok watching it by themselves, take that 30 minutes and bask in your spouse’s company … somewhere out of earshot of the TV.
6. Enjoy Breakfast for Two
This one may not seem realistic but could be worth a shot. Get up early one morning and make a nice breakfast for just you and your partner. Savor the quiet time (and maybe some bacon) together before you start another crazy, hectic day.
7. Get Physical
Some gyms offer on-site babysitting services at a minimal cost. You could play a sport together like racquetball or run side-by-side on treadmills. Alone time can be healthy for you mentally and physically.
8. Go Undercover
Many parents, after dropping their kids off at a dance or swim lesson, will take this child-less time to run errands or go grocery shopping before returning to pick up their little angels. But what if you took that time to meet your spouse for a coffee or quick bite to eat. No one needs to know.
What about my Alone Time?
While finding time alone with your partner is healthy so is wanting time just for yourself. It’s normal and necessary. It doesn’t mean you love your partner any less but you do need time to be your own person and for the other things in life that bring you joy. You may just relax or explore other interests. It’ll give you new topics to share and talk about with your partner. They’ll get their personal time too so you’ll hear all about their activities as well. This will help keep your relationship fresh and fun. Both you and your partner will be less stressed and more able to enjoy each other’s company when you get that alone time together.
Before pursuing your own alone time, talk with your spouse and agree on how much time you want to spend together and apart.
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