Let’s face it: If you are in the trenches of raising kids, life is just plain busy. Between carpool duties, work projects that bleed into family dinner time and household chores that never seem to end, finding time to connect with your significant other can be downright challenging.
Though my husband and I have two teenagers, our lives feel even busier than when our kids were small. And news flash: Teenagers don’t have bed times like toddlers do, so it feels like my husband and I never have the opportunity to connect without someone butting in on our conversations.
If you are eyeing your partner across the dinner table with a “I just want five minutes to hear about your day” look, here are some quick ways to reconnect for even the busiest of relationships.
Schedule a date night in
We all have the best of intentions when it comes to scheduling a date night out, but the reality is that babysitters and a pricey meal out can put a strain on your budget.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t still plan to have a nice evening together. One member of our Offspring Facebook Group, Stephanie, says she and her husband occasionally schedule a night where they allow their son the rare treat of watching TV with a carpet picnic while they enjoy an adult meal, a bottle of wine and a game of cards in the dining room.
Find creative babysitting
When our kids were small, my husband and I used to take advantage of the free child care play area that our grocery store offered shoppers. We’d drop the kids off at the play zone and we’d spend an hour either doing our grocery shopping together or, more often than not, we’d head to the grocery story café for sushi and conversation. Our kids had a blast doing crafts and playing games, and we could enjoy each other’s company knowing our kids were supervised.
We also loved taking advantage of the child care at our local community centre. For a small drop-in fee, we could leave the kids for an hour and get a run in on the treadmill together. Or sometimes we’d cut our run short and sit in the community space and catch up on our days (or compare calendars for carpool duties, but still).
If your kids are too old for child care/play zones, consider heading to your local community centre anyway. Often, you can rent basketballs or other sports equipment for the kids to play with in the gym while you and your partner sit in the bleachers and chat.
Or head to a local track and bring some equipment from home. Let the kids run free in the grass zone in the middle while you walk laps with your partner. It’s not candles and romance but it works during a busy week. And bonus: The kids will be exhausted when they get home.
Go for a walk
When our dog joined our family a few years ago, my preteen kids were all in on walking her daily. Until they weren’t. At some point, that responsibility fell on my shoulders and I quickly realised it was a golden opportunity for some alone time with my husband.
Almost nightly for the last several years, my husband and I take an evening constitutional, as he calls it, with our pup. Always after dinner, we leave the dishes and clean-up to our teens, and we sail out the door to take a half-hour walk. The dog gets to stretch her legs, we get caught up, and we come home to a (mostly) clean kitchen.
Take an improv class together
It’s hard to be stressed when you are laughing with your partner, right? Offspring group member Jaime tells us that she and her husband take a weekly improv class together to stay connected.
“It challenges us, we laugh and it’s not ‘dinner and a movie,’” she says. “And honestly, it’s the best because even when it’s bad you’re still laughing.”
Use nap time for adult purposes
If I had a dollar for every time someone told me to nap when my baby was napping, I’d be rich. While I quickly figured out that nap time was ideal for catching up on chores, work projects and the occasional TV show, I also figured out that nap time can also be time to get intimate with my partner.
If clothing-optional time isn’t in the cards for a busy Saturday afternoon, there’s always the lesser-utilised “smooching in the closet” option.
If all else fails...
Connecting as a couple in the midst of raising kids is hard. Despite our best intentions for romance and deep connection, there are days we will fall short of each other’s needs. And that’s ok.
If you are having a day in which all other connection efforts have failed, do what group member Sara and her partner do: Tag each other in meaningful or funny memes on social media.