How to Find Bonding Time with Your Partner as A Parent
Human beings are social creatures so it’s important to spend plenty of time with your kids and bring the whole family together often. But as they say, too much of anything can be bad. It’s normal to yearn for some time away to rekindle the magic with your partner from before the little ones came along.
Never forget, you have your own identity, and so does your adult relationships, and they should be distinct from being a parent. It’s actually important to remind kids of this. They observe and learn from everything you do, so if your behavior is always about them wouldn’t they expect that to be your whole identity?
Get back to your roots and reinvigorate yourselves with an old passion. But where to find the time? It can be surprising just how many opportunities there are to get together and reconnect, and not all of them require paying a babysitter for the night.
Don’t Feel Guilty
Life coaches, counselors, and therapists hear this phrase pretty often: “I feel guilty leaving my kids.” But downtime is important for you. Think of it this way. Children should develop social skills and relationships with adults besides their parents. It opens their horizons to different ways of life, just like having a diverse student population at school and a well rounded education.
It is also a fact of life that sickness and accidents happen. Don’t let your kids’ very first sleepover at their grandparents’ house be because there were no other options in the midst of some crisis. Your friends and relatives probably want to spend more time with the young ones, so let them do it now and use the time for little date night. If you want to just get away entirely, then opt for something more significant like a three day weekend vacation. Recharge your batteries, have fun, and come back refreshed for a family reunion.
Mark Your Calendar
Quality time means just that. If you feel your life is too hectic for time together, it’s probably not so much finding the time as making the time. Budgeting and scheduling are essential skills of all successful people so take a page out of their playbook. For example, make sure the kids know they have to go to bed early next Friday night because you and your partner have to do “boring tax stuff.” Put a calendar on the fridge and highlight that day. In reality, “tax stuff” can be whatever you want. How about a romantic movie with drinks and dessert?
It doesn’t have to be an evening thing either, especially if you feel exhausted on Friday nights. For instance, do the same thing: mark the calendar, tell the whole family, but go out for breakfast on Saturday instead of dinner Friday night. If you live in a busy city, it can be amazing how quiet the world is on a weekend morning. Head to a park and soak up the sun before the crowds show up. Come back with food and the kids will be all smiles.
Use Sports Practice Or School Time Or Field Trips
Can you and your partner take a long lunch from work and meet up? Does your child have sports practice in the evenings or a field trip on a certain Saturday? Libraries and community centers offer free weekly kid events where you could network with other adults and swap child watching duties. Any of these are prime spots in your schedule for couples only time.
Maybe preschool is when one of you gets all the shopping done. Next time, just meet your SO for a lunch date at the office. It’s OK to blow off chores or other responsibilities in favor of a Summertime hike or ski day while your kids are off on a museum field trip. If the field trip costs you money, compare that to the cost of getting a babysitter for a day. If one makes more sense, jump at the opportunity for a couples spa day or just a wine and dine-in with no distractions.
Making The Most of Inclusive Daycares
There are a plethora of specialty daycares popping up across cities. Some of them are truly amazing, complete with activities, juggle gyms, classes, and more all in one big indoor fun zone. Book a time and head to a concert, musical, or film fest for a fancy night out with your partner. To save money, you could always swap babysitting gigs with a friend.
Alternatively, research department stores, malls, hotels, and vacation resorts that have free daycare centers, or steep discounts. Anything “family friendly,” is a great place to start. Book a daycare, and go do some wine tasting together. Off season prices and AirBnB’s can cut your costs in half. Combine that with a work conference and it’s a win-win-win. Make sure to do something with your partner that you both love, whether its a sports, food, entertainment, or all three.
Finding The Quality In The Time
Don’t use your date night, whether its at home or downtown, as an excuse to dress down. You should actually do the opposite. Dress up, get fancy, and show you’re serious. Doing so will not only up your own confidence but it will also represent the importance of your mutual time. If you meet somewhere and get there separately, it will be even more thrilling.
Plan to meet at a certain time at a certain bar. Do some roleplay. Introduce yourself to one another all over again. Have honest conversations about who your are, what you do, and how you feel. You can do the same at another venue too, like an art museum on a free night. Comedy clubs and shows are another option for a way to blow off the work week and childrearing stress. If the two of you are competitive, challenge another couple to a tennis match, take on other folks at a pub trivia night, or battle for the high score at an arcade. Don’t be afraid to schedule alone time during a social night with friends. It’s OK to do something, just the two of you, as a pre-game or a nightcap.
Involve The Kids
Every parent knows kids get jealous of attention. Sometimes it can feel like the bathroom is the only place you can go to get away from them. But you can use that attention seeking to your advantage too. Have a family pillow fight or run around in the park together. Once the kids are exhausted, you and your partner can put them to bed or down for a nap, and use the downtime for yourselves with a cup of tea or coffee.
Another great idea: make everyone write a letter to one another talking about what they are thankful for. Some families keep a permanent gratitude journal. The idea is to boost our positive reinforcements which should happen more often than negative criticisms by a rate of about 5 to 1. Positive feedback can be severely lacking in social atmospheres that always seem critical or demanding. make sure your home does not fall into that sort of environment.
Do you remember the last time you thanked your partner? Write him or her a thank you note, or a love note. You could email an affirmation video too. Whatever you choose, never forget the power of love that comes from the little things in life.