I shared this past weekend that we were celebrating our eighteenth wedding anniversary. We had 24 hours alone, away from normal life, to mark that.
We made it to a fairly big number. We have two years til we hit the big twenty. We plan to head to Las Vegas with the kids, to celebrate me turning 45 and our wedding anniversary. I am trying to persuade the husband that we need to get “remarried” in an Elvis chapel, but so far he’s not going for that.
To celebrate our anniversary, I organised (and semi surprised the husband) a weekend away. Some very much needed time alone. Very kind friends, un-phased by the idea of a small boy who may not sleep well, in a strange place, helped us out, by having him to sleep over. They have a dog, he was as happy as could be (and is now nagging me to get him a dog as WELL as a leopard gecko) and we slipped off for 24 hours alone, at a rather fancy, and very grown up seeming hotel, in Surrey for the weekend. We literally wanted to sleep, eat, possibly go for a walk, and read or watch tv. We didn’t want action, drama, activities or anything that required effort, other than towards each other.
It was an amazing weekend. We laughed, we argued about current affairs (in a good way) we ate an amazing meal where we were staying, we slept, we fell asleep during a movie, we drank a lot of coffee together, and we just re connected a bit.
Parenting, working parenting, parenting a child that needs that bit extra, being a normal family with everything that comes our way, managing busy jobs, being part of our local community, is all demanding and tiring. We kind of manage, for now on a sort of coffee fuelled, tight diary scheduled sort of plane. Lots of people do this, we are not alone. We don’t have the advantage of grandparents that live locally that can have our children for us, to give us a break, and paid weekend childcare is outrageously expensive so we don’t often get proper time alone. We would like to have more, but for now, we manage with very rare times away. Our small son doesn’t particularly cope well with us going away, even if he did have a blast at the time, the after effect for days when we return is a lot to manage.
But this weekend has made us realise that despite our marriage being pretty strong, and having survived a lot during being together for nearly 20 years, we are not good at making time for each other. We don’t get enough time together. We are tired and the effort of date nights, or just eating a meal alone, feel like harder work. They are harder work. It was pretty hard to try and organise a weekend away, at the end of a busy working, parenting, homeschooling day, I don’t want to make more effort for another human is hard.
But we need to do it.
Our children will leave home. We will be alone together again, and the deep fear for me, is that when that happens, that we won’t want or like each other any more, if we don’t work hard now. Make an effort to enjoy each other’s company, make time for each other.
Regular meals alone, even if it’s just at home.
Trying to go out, if we can.
Making a way for us to have a little bit of space at the weekends, that don’t involve bribing the kids to leave us alone, with screen time (sorry, TMI, that works a treat when you need a little adult time but don’t rely on it for a long stretch of time 😉 )
Turning our phones off, and focusing on each other.
Taking time off work when the kids are at school or at activities.
Asking grandparents nicely when they are in the country, to babysit for a night so we can get away.
Doing things we enjoy together.
These things are not a surprise or novel ideas. They are basic things we have let slip.
The first thing we need to do is get bedtime for our small son under control. He struggles at bedtime, and it can take a long time. That eats into our evenings and robs us of time. We also need to be firm with our delightful tweenager that whilst we love her, that after 8pm, her presence is not required and she isn’t missing anything. We have been slack and we need to claw that time back.
Baby steps. But 24 hours alone has motivated us. Our marriage is important. We need to work harder to keep it that way.
*I would love any tips or suggestions, that you think work for you, or that might also help. Please feel free to comment*