Since we do have seven children, people ask us sometimes how we manage to get time alone together. Lots of ‘experts’ advise date nights, where the couple gets a sitter and goes out to dinner and a movie together. This wasn’t a real workable idea for us because when our children were younger, I was never very comfortable leaving them with a sitter, and anyway, I’ve personally never seen why going out to dinner (interrupted by the wait-person, seated near strangers you care nothing about, spending good money on something you’re just going to flush in a few hours) is so idea. Furthermore, that was usually out of the budget.
I will say that especially since our last move this is an area where I could be doing more to meet the Headmaster’s needs and desires, so this post is really by way of reminding me of an area were personal improvement is needed. I always have trouble adjusting my schedule and routine to a new move, and since I’ve known since we got here that we’ll be building a new home and so moving again, it’s been hard to settle into a routine. I’m still working on it. Meanwhile, these are some ways for those with small children and a smaller budget to work out some alone time together.
If your children are small enough to stay in a stroller (and preferably doze) then you can take them with you and have some ‘alone’ time on a walk around the block. You could plan an early morning cup of tea or coffee together at home while the children sleep.
You can team up with another couple and have a picnic at the park, planning that one couple will visit alone but in sight for a specified period of time while the other keeps an eye on the children playing, and then trade places.
Try reading a book aloud together (I am sure one of our infants thought Shepherding Your Child’s Heart was a bedtime story, because the Headmaster read it aloud to me while I was nursing the littlest one before bed) after putting the children to bed.
Plan one night a week to put the children to be a little earlier than usual, permitting them to play or read quietly in their beds while you and spouse have a quiet game of cards or play a board game.
Once our oldest children were old enough to be alone with the younger children,
we spent some of the nicest times together in our car in the carport right
outside the open window (so I could hear if I was needed), sipping a cappucino and
having some quiet conversation. Because I had a breastfeeding infant I hated to be too far from him in case he needed to nurse, and really, I was still concerned about the oldest children being old enough to be responsible for our lot, including as it did the Most Dangerous Toddler In The World, the multiply handicapped but still able to open a child-proof bottle of medication Cherub, and a newborn baby.
For a while we had a laptop that played DVDs. Actually, the Head Girl had it, but she let us borrow it. Once a week we’d get a DVD for us and a movie for the children. We’d fix snacks for all, but then take our portion in to our room and lock the door. The children were then old enough and cooperative enough to manage on their own, and the Headmaster and I could watch our DVD, talk about it, visit together, and know that short of bloodshed, we would be completely alone until morning.
There are other creative ways to find time to talk together without spending money.
The important things is to remember that the point is being with somebody we love(and that includes our children) not the mere location. Married people managed, after all, to live and love through decades of marriage centuries before they had the option of going out to dinner for the evening.