Last week I asked you guys for questions, and Kalen asked about tips for having quality adult time while parenting very young children.
Wait… What’s quality time?
For us the answer has really been shifting what we think of as quality time. Once upon a time, I might have balked at how we do things, but it does seem to work for us. It’s a lot easier to have some perspective on this since Ava was four when the twins were born. By that time, the girls were going to bed at 8, and we had a glorious 2-2.5 hours between bedtime for the girls, and climbing into bed ourselves.
That felt like a lifetime of free time to talk to each other and enjoy each other’s company. And then, ya know, twins happened. In the early months of twins it felt like we would sometimes go an entire week without talking to each other (other than the obligatory “this one’s hungry, and this one needs a diaper change.”). It was a whirlwind of getting the bare minimum complete. We basically got everyone fed and clothed and sometimes we slept…mostly not though. So yeah, not a lot of adult time was had.
It really helps to know that these super intensive times fade and we will fall into a less hands-on, constant parenting routine. Anyway, what I was trying to say is that we’ve changed our perspectives on quality time. When we have time to do something, we just take the kiddos along. If we want to try a new restaurant, they come with us. If we want to go to a coffee shop. We go. All of us. I will say that we tend to prefer restaurants with outdoor seating (so that we don’t feel like we are so much under the feet of the staff). And we don’t just sit for hours like we did before at cafe’s. In addition, we always have an exit strategy in case our outing doesn’t go as planned. All of our children enjoy live music…and so do we, so we’ve been seeking out more opportunities to enjoy that together. But, we also tend to head to the park and let the children run around while we get to talk. Or, we fix dinner together while we chat about the day.
Any time we get in the car feels like quality time to me. With all four kiddos strapped in their carseats, we can just talk about what we want to talk about *usually* without interruption.
Tommy and I are big on doing just about everything as a family, but there are times when it’s nice to have an uninterrupted conversation, or sit down to a meal without having to get up to cater to a little someone…and I’m sure we’ll do more of that in the near future. It’s a lot to ask anyone to watch four kiddos.
We’ve never done the regular date night thing. I’ve heard good things about date nights, but it just isn’t our style at this time in our life as a married couple. Most every evening we do spend about an hour together where we do what the adults want…to an extent. just the two of us, or just the two of us plus the babies.
It’s not that I’m down on date night. That would be nice too, but it just feels impractical at this juncture. Planning a time when we can go out sans kids sounds exhausting to me (this is partially because I am not a natural planner of events.) Setting up a sitter, deciding where to go, setting aside the money for the outing and the sitter, etc. So, figuring out what feels relaxing to the adults and is still fun for the kiddos has been quite a fun adventure.
When we had a toddler and a young baby, one of our favorite haunts was a Mongolian grill. Kids under a certain age ate free, and there was virtually no wait time between being seated and getting to eat something, and there were a myriad of cut up finger foods for the children to eat. Also, one adult could sit at the table with the children while the other adult got their food, and then we would switch. That way no one had to go through the buffet line while holding a baby or toddler.
Another place that we frequented was a coffee shop and bakery where there was a children’s playroom with a baby gate. We could actually sit and talk in a coffee shop while the girls played on the floor and with toys. Marvelous. We just recently went back there, and it worked well with all four kiddos as well.
One of the most rejuvenating forms of adult time for us is getting together with other families. It’s like getting a babysitter, but the kids just go off and play…Finding other families that we “click” with has probably been the greatest sanity saver that I can think of. Finding people who parent the way that you do (or close enough) was especially important when we were very new parents, and those bonds have lasted. We did a lot of game nights with our friends when we were newer, younger parents…come to think of it, we really need to do more of that these days.
At this very moment in time, the twins are going through an interesting sleeping pattern that keeps them up until we are ready to go to bed. We’re working on getting them down to sleep a bit earlier…it’s rough with wanting to do lots of summer activities with the girls, but still needing to have a nap time during the day for the boys…anyway that’s a story for another time. So right now, the boys are usually awake when we watch a show in the evening, or sit and talk, or have a before bed snack, etc. But Tommy and I do try to have at least a few minutes together before going to sleep each night.
To us that’s quality time…and it’s enough. At least for now. When the babies are a little older and not up until we go to bed, we’ll get that time all to ourselves again. It’s all about seasons, right?
What are your thoughts on quality adult time?