Finding Time to Connect as a Couple with Kids
How do you stay close as a couple when you have little kids that need you nearly 24-7?
Sometimes, stay-at-home-parents forget how to adult. But it’s important to take breaks and come back refreshed for your kids.
Finding a Regular Time Away
We kind of accidentally started a tradition of overnight staycations.
Every Thanksgiving, we go to our in-Laws who live just a couple of hours away in Indy. Our first couple of years as a married couple, we got a hotel for fun. We’ve continued doing this every year, leaving the kids with their grandparents for the night.
Our tradition has become booking a hotel the night before Thanksgiving in the downtown Indy area, just minutes away from the in-laws. We hang out with them and help prep the house for Thanksgiving, then we head to the hotel and get a quiet night sans kids. The next day, we checkout at noon and head over to help with the holiday prep.
Just a Short Time Can be So Refreshing
Sleeping in a few extra minutes without worrying about taking care of the kids, or eating a meal without having to remind kids to eat 87 times, can feel absurdly free. Even driving somewhere and not toting kids and extra bags can make you feel like a singular person again. I absolutely love being a mother, but having a few moments every year to ourselves is encouraging.
Breakfast of Champions
One thing we are sure to do each year is eat breakfast! While I’m not normally a breakfast person (I often don’t eat until noon), on Thanksgiving things are different. We typically don’t eat until the afternoon, so eating a good breakfast gives us energy to meet the kids and help prep for dinner.
This also gives us a chance to spend a little more focused time before we check out. Normally when we first get up, I work or shower while he works out in the hotel gym. So breakfast is a good cap to the stay. Some of our hotels in the past have provided breakfast (which has been amazing), but we always make sure there is at least a good breakfast option close. Starbucks is one of our favorite options.
Finding Time to Connect as a Couple with Kids
Of course, our situation is probably unique to our family. We don’t have grandparents in town who can take our kids overnight at any time. So, we look for a few times a year when we can make those overnight stays happen. The kids love it, the grandparents love it, and we love it. It’s a win, win, win.
Not everyone has parents they can do this with. You might have to be creative. Perhaps you have another relative or friend that could keep your kids for the night. We do a lot of our times together with our kids too, even though that’s not quite the same.
Conversation Starters for Your Spouse
We get into routines and it’s hard to get out of the rut sometimes. It can be fun to find new ways to connect as a married couple.
36 Questions for Your Spouse
One time we took turns answering “36 questions that will make anyone fall in love” from a study by psychologist Arthur Aron. The 36 questions put forth in the study are broken up into three sets. Each set of questions is supposed to be more probing than the last. They are long. Honestly, I think we only got to question 20ish. They are all very open ended, so that is as far as we got over one meal. To give you a taste, the first three questions are:
- Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?
- Would you like to be famous? In what way?
- Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?
Love Language Quiz
Another interesting topic to discuss with your spouse, is how you love. There are five ways to show love and receive love, according to Gary Chapman. This isn’t the end-all, be-all of relationships, but it really helps you understand where you might be missing each other.
When you speak two different love languages (like Knick and I do), you can really feel like you are speaking different languages. I might feel very unloved without even the most basic forms of physical touch or verbal affirmation. But Knick doesn’t naturally turn to those things to show love. And if I try to just give him a hug, it doesn’t feel like spontaneous love to him—it feels like I’m poking him or needing something from him. I highly recommend taking the Love Language quiz as a couple to give yourself new insights into how you tend to operate.
Experience Something New
If you aren’t really the talking type (or couple), you can always go for a new experience. We’ve ridden horses on the beach and watched new movies together. You could go rock climbing, do an escape room, take a walk on a new path (we play Pokemon Go together) or try a new local restaurant together. New things will get the conversation going in a new direction. The goal is to get out of the daily routine enough that you can feel refreshed in your time together and not the same.
When we stayed in Indy this time, we walked a few blocks to try out a local Pizzeria that had the game playing, rather than watch it in the hotel. It was a really fun time and the food was amazing.
Remember the 80/20 Rule
I don’t know where, but somewhere I heard about the 80/20 rule with marriage and it really resonated with me. It mentioned the majority of people cheat because their spouse is missing 20% of what they want, but they fail to realize they are giving up 80% to chase the 20%.
“The 80/20 Rule is simple. In a healthy relationship, you get about 80 per cent of what you need/want from your partner. They are caring, respectful and share a lot of the same interests as you, but then you meet someone who catches your attention for an unknown reason. It may well be because they fulfill the missing 20 per cent in your relationship…”
Basically, no one is perfect and we really need to be careful how we are judging our significant other. If the other person has 80% of what we want in a mate, then we need to be really careful how we crave the other 20%, because no one is perfect.
If you start looking around to see who has the missing 20%, you might end up leaving for 20% or even 40%, when you already had 80%. Maybe this doesn’t hit you as hard as it did me. I certainly wasn’t looking at cheating or considering a divorce, but it really made me consider my perspective on our relationship. It also made me think about the 20% I was lacking for him—and how subjective it all was! Always challenge your natural instincts because they are often biased, selfish and unfair.
Hopefully, a good date, conversation or night away will have you ready to take on the world together once more.