Parents Night Out or In: The Importance of 'Date Me'
Couples easily fall into the void of monotony; babes, don't do this.
My friend told me that from the moment their first child was born, they instituted 'Date Night'. Logistically this seemed like a stretch for someone who didn't have Granny living next door or 24-hour help. "But how do you always guarantee you get out on a date?" I asked. She explained that this is about time and space and that the expectation of 'date' needs to be managed. She told me that it is so easy for couples to get wrapped up in the new baby/children, resulting in them just barking orders at each other. One of them usually spends all day with the dependent little human attached to them, constantly engaged in caregiving but not having a single adult conversation. The other may have spent all day in the office in a constant barrage of adultness. One is starved for adult interaction and the other one just wants to veg out to Netflix. Hence, any time my friend and her husband get a little barky at each other, they call a truce by invoking the essential parent password: Date Me.
Getting out was easier with the first, she told me. It was easier to leave the baby with the new eager grandparents, but when number two came along, a new born and a two year old were harder to shift to broody friends or a sitter.
Still, they didn't let Date Me go, they just adjusted expectations.
She told me they nicknamed the second child the "Peace-Maker" because they realised quickly, 'Okay, we are evenly matched now, it is us against them. They will divide and conquer.' Their trick was that they knew they were stronger together. Instead of hitting the town, they put Toddler to sleep and Baby Number Two would roll around the living room floor as they sipped a glass of wine and nibbled take-out sushi over a game of backgammon. (FYI they re-named this period, "Floor Date.") They just made time to enjoy each other.
Waging war over household chores and counting score on daily tasks only works against the family's fluidity. If in the midst of everything you think to yourself, we are in this together, and with a simple "I love you, I want you", your ability to cope with the stress of parenting is fortified. We are stronger together.