It’s 8:30 p.m. I’ve just come downstairs from putting the kiddos to bed. My husband is in the kitchen doing dishes. I walk through the living room and pick up the last of the toys and the books from the day before wiping down counters, putting away the last remnants of supper, and checking to be sure backpacks and coats are set out and ready for the next day. Then I grab a dish towel if needed and help with the last of the drying. About 30 minutes later we close up the dishwasher, one of us puts the tea kettle on the stove, and we finally get a few minutes together at the end of the day.
My husband and I have joked that at this stage in our lives we build our marriage in 90 minute increments. That time after the kids are in bed and the house is picked up but before we ourselves hit the pillows for the night is very important. We’ll watch a little television, talk, maybe play a game, and sometimes I admit I fall asleep on the couch before the end of the 10:00 news.
I know it won’t be this way forever, but for now, with two active kids and both of us working outside of the home, it’s just the way it is.
I’m sure many of you can relate to this scenario. Between supper, homework, evening activities, violin practice, and squeezing in those precious minutes of quality time between the hours of “after work” and “before bed,” there isn’t always a whole lot of time for meaningful connection with your spouse or partner. It is easy to let that relationship slide in the name of things that seem so much more important at the time. But for us, those 90 minutes allow us to reconnect with each other, to address issues that have come up during the day, to talk about plans for the day or week to come, to dream big dreams, and to draw on each other for support in stresses and disappointments.
Sometimes we joke and laugh, and sometimes we are serious or sad. We try to be intentional during this time, leaving phones and technology in the kitchen when we go downstairs so that we can actually focus on doing something together. We have our own rituals, like a cup of tea and an episode of House Hunters before the evening news. He’ll give me a kiss, and I’ll snuggle next to him on the couch with the cat on the other side. All these things keep us connected, and help us to remember who we were as husband and wife, long before special little people started calling us Mommy and Daddy.
So, to all of you moms and dads out there who are carving out time for each other even when it isn’t easy, keep up the effort.
Remember who you were before you were Mom and Dad, and what is special and important to you. While you may not be able to put all of those things into the 90 minutes you get at the end of the day, a few things like a cup of tea or a favorite television show can be vital in the connections that strengthen the family as a whole. Even if you do end up falling asleep on the couch before the end of the evening news.