My husband and I have been married for nearly 20 years. We will celebrate our 20th anniversary next fall with a trip to Italy. We have already lined up my parents to stay here with the kids in our home. We will also secure backup sitters just in case something goes wrong and they need help or in the event that they need to cancel at the last moment. We are fervently praying that nothing like that happens and that all will go well in order for us to make this trip happen! We have never done anything quite like this before, and we certainly have never taken a two-week trip out of our home country, just the two of us.
You may be asking the question, If you are a homeschool family like ours, how are you managing to find the time to take this kind of vacation? Or maybe you’re wondering how we have saved the money while homeschooling 5 children! The latter is more my husband’s territory, but the answer to the first is be intentional. If we do not make dates a priority, then they will not happen on a regular basis.
It was much easier to find alone time with my husband when we were newly married and even after our first two children entered the picture. We have never lived in the same town as either set of our parents, or any family members for that matter, but we have lived close enough to leave the kids with them for a weekend on occasion. We have also developed great friendships over the years, so we have often had a few trusted people in our lives with whom we felt comfortable leaving our children. This has allowed us to take a few hours together here and there to see a movie or grab dinner. Until very recently, however, we did not schedule time to date one another. It has always been pretty haphazard. We have always heard that it is a good idea to date your spouse, yet we had never made it a priority.
My husband and I are involved in the marriage ministry at our church. In this class, from Jimmy Evans of Marriage on the Rock, we have learned about priority and pursuit, setting boundaries, parenting our children, dealing with our own parents in a healthy way, financial issues, sex and communication, our relationship with God, and so much more! One of the things that we decided during a night of discussion for our weekly meeting was that we were going to make dating one another a priority after all these years. We already had time set aside for the class each week anyway. We also already had a babysitter lined up for our younger kids, as our eldest child is now 16 and very capable of handling things for a few hours. We pay him a few dollars each week, and he is happy to be the responsible one. It’s a win-win!
So what are some steps you can take to be sure you find the time to date your spouse? Try these!
- Enjoy a date night in. If you do not have a reliable family member or other option for someone to stay home with your children, you can still plan a date. This may take a bit of creativity on your part. But some ideas are: enjoy a picnic dinner in the basement, try some nice music and dancing, enjoy an evening of stargazing in your own back yard, or watch a movie and enjoy coffee and dessert together mid-way through.
- Ask a friend if you can borrow her babysitter (or her teenage son or daughter). Seriously. This may sound a bit silly, but we recently did just that. As part of the marriage ministry in which we are involved, we meet with a small group of 3 to 4 couples each week. Over the course of the session, we get to know one another fairly well. It’s a great way to make new friends and to develop an accountability group. We were discussing our need for a new sitter, as our church is moving the high school services to Sunday evening, which is the same night our marriage group always meets. One of the couples mentioned that her husband finds college students….he works with the sports teams at a local university and knows many young people….and she ‘vets’ them, so they have quite a list of possible sitters. Recently, we asked our friend for a name and ended up asking her to keep our two youngest girls. She did a fabulous job, even washing our dishes while we were gone, and our girls loved her! We already have her scheduled to come stay with them for an important date night out in January, and she is also lined up to come each week during the next marriage ministry session. Would this option work for you?
- Petition a family member. As I mentioned earlier, since we have been married, we have never lived in the same town as any of our family members. We have not been able to choose this option on a regular basis. I know that not all family relationships are good ones, but if yours is, try it. Many grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, or siblings would be thrilled to spend a few hours with the younger members of their extended family while you get away with your husband.
- Barter with a friend. If I know mamas, then I know that there are many others out there who are in the same situation as you. It can be tough to find quality childcare providers. We want and need to know that our children are safe, loved, and well-taken-care-of when we are not with them. Why not make a deal with a close friend to take turns watching one another’s children? Maybe you can go out on Sunday nights and she and her husband can go out on Saturday nights. You can choose to go to her home or have her bring all of her children to you, or some other combination that works best for you both. Not only will each couple be able to spend quality time together, but your children will grow that much closer as well!
Are you one of the blessed wives who regularly takes the opportunity to spend alone time with your husband? I would love to hear how you do it! Your ideas will help all of us mamas to find some time away with our husbands and to then come home refreshed and ready to pour ourselves back into our children!