When I met my husband, he had a 4-year-old cutie who I fell for, hard and fast. Going on 4 years later, we are married, with a very busy 8-year-old. Now, in these last 4 years, I think I’ve come quite far, in a lot of ways. It’s not the simplest task, adapting to marriage and motherhood all at the same time – and it’s even less simple when I’m loving a sweet little munchkin whose first four years I missed. I know that it is what it is. There isn’t anything I wish were different, when it comes down to it, but there is a certain degree of adapting that has to happen when this is your reality; or mine, anyway.
What this meant was that I loved spending one-on-one time with my daughter and growing our bond, but I was always a little bit afraid of missing out if my husband was doing the same. Which is all well and good, most of the time (being together I mean) – but I have to leave the house occasionally. Not only that, but it’s healthy for a girl and her dad to have their own time, as well.
As evidence of my growth, tonight my husband and daughter went on a little date – and I said, Goodbye my darlings! I love you! Have the best time! And then I did a little shimmy back into the house and I am not angry about it, guys. I am in my pajamas after a long bath; and now I am watching trashy television all by my lonesome and I couldn’t be more thrilled. Tomorrow, the small one and I are going to a concert while Dad works late.
So the thing I’m learning is actually quite valuable – date your family.
Let me explain.
First, and most obviously, date your spouse/significant other/a guy or gal you’re excited to spend time and be adult with. Do it. Go out to dinner, see a movie, hold hands, laugh, drink, whatever. Be adults, and be together, and be present with each other.
Next, go on family dates. Make a plan to go get ice cream, see a play, or just have dinner together. Call it a family date. Be silly, be together, and be present with each other while you are.
Then, date your kids. Our girl benefits from being one-on-one with both my husband and I – time to be heard, to talk about what’s happening at school, to get attention from both of us on an individual basis. Our kids deserve that, need it, LOVE it, and thrive with it. I’m watching it in my very home tonight. So you can take my word for it. Be wherever, together, and present – on these dates especially.
We are SO. BUSY. Our calendar makes me LOL on a daily basis, like, oh, you wanted some down time? Not a chance! Enjoy trying to be 12 places at once! So, these dates don’t happen every week, ooooor every month, but it doesn’t have to be a big thing, or a lot of time, either. Find an hour after the kids go to bed. Thirty minutes between activities to sit at Chipotle. Find 10 minutes for a popsicle on the back porch. I can’t stress this part enough: call it a date. It differentiates it from any other chunk of time and makes it special – yours.
Be together, and be present for each other while you are.
If any of you are like I have been – feeling nervous about the others hanging out without you – don’t. Not because they won’t come back closer – they will. And when you have your turn, you will too. And you’ll all continue growing and thriving in relationships with each other and apart. I’m reminded as I write this, of a quote I’ve always loved; I think it fits appropriately here:
“How glorious the splendor of a human heart that trusts that it is loved.” – Brennan Manning
So, date your family. Not just for your kids, not just for your spouse, but for each and every one of you individually and together.