Remember me? The importance of 'date' time away from your kids

With Valentine’s Day on the way, busy mother and blogger Beth MacDonald shares her tips on keeping the romance alive all year round.

I remember some time last year (yes, that vague - given the amount of children I have had) where Rob and I were at the end of a long run of sickness in the family. All three girls had had the same cold (round and round and round it went) for what seemed like months. We were tired, I was emotional and generally just OVER it. I was having a go at him about something totally not important. I actually think the problem was dishwasher tablets and how they weren’t dissolving because I exclaimed ‘THIS IS SO YOUR FAULT ROB’. Then I looked up at him from across the kitchen and said ‘Can you believe this is our life?!’. Then we laughed. And maybe I cried, but we mostly laughed. 

This is life with kids. 

It’s not always exciting or sexy. And it’s a million miles away from the lazy Sunday morning sleep ins and late nights and no plans and last minute plans and everything that came before THEM when it was just US.

One thing we have always tried to do since we had the girls is to make sure we have time just for us. But the more kids we’ve had, the harder this becomes. It takes a lot of organising but it’s worth it. The MINUTE you are away from your kids as a couple, the dynamic changes. Slowly but surely you’re reminded of the person that you fell in love with. 

We’ve been lucky enough to have lots of family support with the kids so we can have the occasional night away from the kids, we even had a holiday once! And later this year we’ll be going away for 10 NIGHTS without them. Oh my goodness…sleeping without clothes on, making no plans, walking without bribing, doing whatever we like, it’s going to be a once in a 'childtime' experience for us both.

Spending time together, alone, away from your children, away from all the normal distractions that can happen at night: phone scrolling, Netflix, work, emails - gives you the simple act of connection. 

THIS can be way more important especially when you’re in the trenches of kids. It can be more important than sex which sometimes gets added to an imaginary long to-do list. Talking, laughing, remembering… can help re-connect you with your partner and wipe out all the stuff that we think is ‘so important’ which really isn’t at all. Talking about a good holiday you took together, rather than dishwasher tablets or school notes or calendars will instantly help take you back to a place of YOU guys and not snotty noses or vomit.

There are lots of simple ways to do it even if you can’t get away from the kids or don’t have the cash flow for babysitters or trips or dinners out. 

Here are my top 4 tips for re-connecting with your partner:

1. Turn off devices 
The simple act of turning off devices and putting them away out of reach will help force you to actually TALK. Novel I know. But even in the 10 years or so that technology has really taken over our lives we have gotten into such bad habits. I know I am not the only one that spends most nights on the couch, side by side with my partner scrolling through phones while half watching and half talking…turn them off.

2. Get outside 
Put a picnic on in the backyard. Light a fire pit. Light a candle. A change of scene will help you to sit and talk. Once that ‘normal’ and mundane dynamic changes…so do you! 

3. Create a restaurant at home
We have done this a lot, especially since our littlest was born because it’s sometimes just easier to be at home rather than organising a babysitter. Get dressed up. Plan a nice menu with things you wouldn’t normally cook (I usually get Rob to cook too). Light candles. Put on music. Sit and talk. These are always my favourite nights…You can transform your normal home into something special with little effort (plus if the baby wakes you can deal with it and go back to dinner without worrying about babysitters).

Romantic table setting at home
4. Take a trip down memory lane
This is one of my favourite things to do. Play music from when you were first together. Get Spotify out and play your old favourite albums. Watch your favourite movie. Sounds and images will spark fond memories that instantly transport you through time. 

Once you take the time for this, hopefully everything else will flow on from there. It’s likely you’ll make each other laugh, remember the good old days and make plans for future ones. 

You start to LIKE each other again and from there? Anything can happen! Maybe even sex. Take out all the issues that surround life as a married couple with kids, and you might just remember and like those versions of yourself that seem long forgotten. They are never really far away… Promise!
Close up of woman laughing
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