My husband and I met 5 ½ years ago. Pre-kids and post-college, we had the time and money to wine and dine, travel around the country, and go on dates regularly. Fast forward to the present: we have a toddler, a chronic illness, a mortgage, and for some ungodly reason, the universe has managed to significantly reduce the number of hours in a day.
Stuck somewhere between newlyweds and an old married couple (this fall will be our 3 year wedding anniversary), we have had to be creative in finding ways to still date each other. Sure, we’ve traded in vineyard hopping in Napa for Netflix nights in. No longer do we frequent Fleming’s, but now we steal kisses while the baby is entranced by “Elmo’s World.” How do we find time to date with a toddler, my husband working 9 hours a day, and us juggling my doctor appointments for my chronic illness (seriously, though, I need a punch card because I am pretty sure I am due a free appointment by now!)? We will let you know when we figure it out! Just kidding … we have found some things that work for us!
My husband and I set aside time most Saturday mornings for family time. This means just our little nuclear family of 3, no extra guests. We like to think of these as “group dates” (with our son), kind of like the group dates we used to take downtown to Boudreaux and Thibodeaux’s in our early dating days, only with less alcohol and more juice boxes. This could mean us going to the park together, letting the toddler burn off some energy at Lil’ Bambinos, taking him to get a haircut then walking around Towne Center together, or just playing in the backyard together (an added bonus: all of these group dates exhaust the baby, which leads to a great nap, which gives us some alone time!). Lately our Saturday morning family time has been spent at the baby’s swim lessons, so both my husband and I get in the pool with him and make it bonding time. So sometimes we kill two birds with one stone—a haircut or swim lessons + family time, because, while we want to have unlimited family time (complete with rainbows and butterflies, might I add), we also have real life going on!
My husband and I also try to have some one-on-one dates that we can do at home while the baby is napping or once he goes down for the night. We will do puzzles together (I swear, we are not 80 years old! This is great for promoting teamwork—I dare you to try it!), make a homemade pizza together, or watch a movie together. When Grandma is available and all the stars align, we do go on dates out of the house. But, we decided a while ago that, since we don’t always have that opportunity, we need to have little mini-dates when the baby is home, and family dates whenever we can.
Sometimes life happens—the baby gets sick so we can’t have a babysitter, I am feeling too tired because of my health issues and don’t want to go out anywhere, or the dishwasher broke and we spent our date night out money on fixing it—so we just sneak in a kiss while the baby is busy eating his yogurt melts, a hug while we’re loading the dishwasher, or a sweet text when the baby takes a break from trying to lock me out of my phone with failed passcode attempts.
Whatever little moments we can get together—as a couple, and as a family—we will take it. Napa wasn’t that much fun, anyway!
About Madison Stilson
I have a toddler, Matthew, and an extremely patient and selfless husband, Joe. I was a teacher for several years and am now home with my favorite student – my son (I’ve been told that it is okay to have a favorite student in situations like this!). I have a passion for writing, which has been very therapeutic for me in the past when dealing with tough situations from being chronically ill. I love to tell narratives and to make people laugh, and I get to do both through my writing.