Time is one commodity that is unchanging and can’t be multiplied. We can’t cultivate more time, we can only use the time we are given in a meaningful way. At the beginning of our marriage, we thought quality time was essential and could make up for quantity time.
After 16 years, we came to realize we need large amounts of time set aside for our marriage, kids, extended family, and friendships. Mike & I can’t just live the weekdays working, teaching, and growing our side hustles with two weekend days set aside for relationships.
The idea of eating dinner together each night sounds wonderful but it just isn’t going to be our reality. Between Mike’s commute and the girl’s evening events we would not all be able to sit down for a meal until well after 7 pm. Family time is still a major priority for us and we are intentional in developing ways to connect with each other and our kids.
Dates with Parents
The girls love having time with Mike & I all by themselves. It is important to spend time with the girls one-on-one. Even just driving them to their evening activities, the girls will hash out their day with us and reflect on life in a different way than they do with their sisters around.
They each have very different interests so it is fun to see what activity they want to do during their one on one time. Some of the activities they enjoy are:
- Laser tag
- Painting pottery
- Coffee dates
- Tea parties
- Ice cream runs
Not all the dates cost money. It is just about spending time with the girls individually and creating space for them alone so they don’t compete with one another.
I have had to start scheduling free Saturdays. There are so many great things happening in our area. Between invitations, cultural experiences, church happenings, appointments and other miscellaneous activities our Saturdays get booked up quickly.
This February we had only one weekend home as a family. I am not sure how our calendar filled up so quickly. Even the free Saturday that we were home had a lot of great events happening. It is hard to say no to personal invitations but this year we are intentional about carving out time just as a family. That means saying no to good things.
One question that helps me more easily decide about what to specifically put on the schedule for a Saturday is: Does this build up our family? Family time is such a precious commodity and time moves so quickly that it has become essential for us to practice saying no gracefully.
To make Saturdays meaningful, we spend time doing things we all enjoy:
- 1000 piece puzzles
- Playing our favorite games ( Catan, Ring Fit Adventure, Ice Cool)
- Day trips
Just us two
Now that our girls are older, it is much easier to get away for a few nights every few months. Thankfully, we have a great support system in our area and built in babysitters since we live so close to family. The biggest obstacle is ourselves and just carving out the time together.
Chicago makes it so easy to unplug and enjoy a show, fantastic food, or the museums. These quick and easy overnights give us uninterrupted time together. We use this time to enjoy one another’s company, make goals for the next few months, and recharge.
We have to prioritize time with just us because it doesn’t happen on its own. When we sit down to figure out the next few months of our calendar, we talk through date nights and set up when it would work best for my parents to watch the girls. Most of our date nights are planned out months in advanced.
Date night in
On Thursday nights, Mike & I have a date night in. This means that I feed the girls at an early dinner time, closer to 5 pm, then pick up sushi or Indian food for Mike & I to enjoy when he gets home from work.
Thursdays are a night with a different pace. The girls don’t have any activities on Thursdays so we are all home and able to unwind. The house and kitchen are cleaned up since I am just picking up food for us. We have time on Thursdays so we are able to be present and benefit from one another’s company. This is my favorite night of the week.
Our girls are early risers, so we wake up even earlier. We make sure we are up early enough to have at least an hour of time to ourselves. Working out, reading, and sipping coffee are some of our top priorities in these early hours.
I would not have considered myself a morning person until a couple of years ago. Now mornings are a time that fill me up and I don’t even need an alarm to get up by 5:30am. The morning hours are not interrupted by kids and a perfect time for Mike & I to connect before the day’s happenings begin.
Busy is not a way that I would describe our calendar. It is full of rich, meaningful events and activities. Mike and I are intentional with what goes on the calendar so it isn’t just meaningless busyness. Our days are full, our time is precious, but in the margins of life we use our time to cultivate a close family.
How do you use your time to cultivate closeness?
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