The concept of “adult time vs family time” is one that can leave new parents marveling at how different their current life is from the one they had before. The second you cross over into a life with kids, it becomes painfully obvious that finding time together with your spouse one-on-one is like finding a unicorn. Sure, you can get a babysitter but remember when you didn’t have to pay someone or ask for a favor just to be able to go to the movies? When the kids are in their young years (which everyone says go by fast but can also feel like an eternity when it comes to certain things), being able to freely wake up on a Saturday morning after sleeping in til 9 and stroll down to brunch is something that’s now only normal on vacation (one where you left the kids at home, of course)… which is a whole unicorn in itself. Yet, more than ever, when you become parents is exactly when it’s the most crucial to feel connected and on the same page as your spouse. That’s why for us it’s been super important to make sure there is both family time AND adult time in each day…
The mornings are natural family time. We wake up and try to have some quality book/play time while also working together to get everyone fed and ready for the day. We did a whole post about morning routines with Real Talk With Real Moms, which you can read here. The adult time is harder to find. Ian comes home from work around 6:30 or 7, which is in the middle of Sailor’s evening routine of dinner, bath, and bed. So he either jumps right in and takes over with her while I try to finish watering the plants outside (sprinkler system problems), clean up, and start dinner, or we switch. If we’re lucky, we fit in a family walk. Then we put her down around 8 (well one of us does while the other one finishes making dinner), and only at that point do we get to relax as two adults. But unlike the days when the night was young at 8, we get to bed by 10:30 on most nights so we can be ready for the 6:30 human alarm, and do it all again.
We usually spend these two hours eating dinner, talking about our day, and continuing with a show binge (right now it’s The Handmaids Tale – OMG, have you watched?). So, we ALWAYS eat dinner as adults after she goes to bed. This is partly logistical, but also because we see dinner as a sacred grown-up ceremony of sorts (VERY poorly chosen word, if you’re watching the aforementioned show). This time to just sit and relax together is a lot shorter than it used to be, but that makes it count even more. What’s hard is when it doesn’t really work out. Sometimes we’re exhausted, making dinner doesn’t even get started til after 8pm, and I’m still needing to get some work time in before the day is over. Those are the days where our adult time is eaten up by other things, and the whole day feels out of balance.
Right now my current mom challenge is to be extra efficient with my time during the day, to make SURE that our adult time is solid. That means getting Sailor’s ducks in a row for the evening needs to start around 5:30: dinner, plants, bath, and our dinner started all before Ian gets home. It can be a tall order when also trying to get my work stuff done for the day and everything else going on, but we notice a HUGE difference in how balanced the day feels when these things happen. It just makes the evenings less stressful. Making it a priority and carving out the time makes us better parents, and recharges us for the next day. The next parent challenge: schedule more adult vacays. Even if it’s just a weekend somewhere an hour away, that time together just us every once in awhile is non-negotiable!
And what about adult time with friends? I’m a big believer in double date nights, Bachelorette night with the girls, and lunch dates sans kid. They may not happen quite as often as we’d like, but I try to take as many opportunities as I can. I genuinely feel that it’s not possible to give your friends the attention they deserve if you bring your kids, unless they also have kids that can play with yours. After she was about 7 months old, I stopped bringing Sailor to lunch dates because I know that it would turn into the Sailor show whether the adults like it or not. She’s at an age where she is all consuming (frankly just not a great lunch date). So I wait for the days I have someone to watch Sailor to set up friend time. I know my friends love Sailor, but trying to catch up over lunch doesn’t really work too well with a toddler in tow. If my friends want to hang with Sailor too, I’ll have them come over to play with her on a day where we can also leave some time for the adults to chat during nap or after her bedtime. I find it incredibly frustrating to constantly be dividing my attention or trying to talk over a child’s yelling, so even if the friend doesn’t mind, I do mind, and I prefer to be present for one thing at a time.
So what’s your philosophy on kid time vs. adult time? I’d love to know how other families balance their time! I’m excited to read how the other moms do it too: