If you look longingly at young couples who seem so in love and have no worries—you may be a 30 or 40 something, married with children. You still remember what it was like to be so young and in love, and while you still are in love with your spouse, things are different. More grown up. You have grown up worries, like a house, jobs, and retirement accounts.
Plus, you have kids. You have a family. Your whole life is consumed—in good way—to raising these little ones in your life. So perhaps it feels as if you are mostly focused on the children, or that you have almost no focus at all. You wonder, how do people do it all?
Even though you are married, maybe you feel as if you “miss” your spouse. Even though you see each other and even sleep in the same bed, you’re both so distracted and have so many other demands on your time. In a word, you feel unbalanced.
If things feel tipped, then here are 4 tips for balancing marriage and family life.
1. Date your spouse once a week
You probably hear it all the time that you need to “date” each other, but do you actually do it? Do you and your spouse get out of the house and do stuff, just the two of you? If not, make it your number one priority. You two need to connect one on one on a very regular basis.
You may think it’ll be too expensive, take up too much time away from your kids, or involve too much energy to plan it all. But here is the answer to all of those worries: it will be worth it.
Also, there are ways around all of those issues. If it’s too expensive to get a babysitter, find another couple to do a “trade” babysitting with. Then go on a cheap date, even just a walk or a drive. You can do it after the kids are in bed to lessen your time away from them, or you can do lunch dates.
At first it’ll take some planning, but once you are in the habit it will take much less time and energy to plan. Plus, you’ll see the value in it. You will love dating each other and wonder why you didn’t start sooner!
2. Be vigilant about your family calendar
Go to an office supply store, and buy the biggest calendar they have. A desk calendar is great because it has big boxes for each date. Hang it on a prominent place in your house—preferably the kitchen—and gather your family around.
Tell them this is for the whole family, to keep everyone organized. Write down soccer games (if you know when all the practices and games are, go ahead and write them all down now), oil changes for each car, PTO meetings, doctor appointments, and date nights. It may seem like a funny tip, but you won’t believe how much it will help you balance your relationship and family life.
When you are all organized and on the same page, things will just flow better. When you know that soccer is Monday night, you can get dinner in the crock pot earlier in the day instead of scrambling when you should be running out the door. In turn, that will help everyone be less stressed, which will definitely help your family and married life be happier.
The nice thing about plotting everything on the calendar is that you get to prioritize. As a family you get to decide in advance what the most important things will be, rather than just passively letting things happen. You know that hike your family has wanted to go on? Now that you have a calendar, you can quit talking about it and write it down for this Saturday, and do it! Being organized equals more family time, and more quality family time.
3) Cuddle,touch and be intimate with your spouse
When you date your spouse, you can connect emotionally. So now make sure you connect physically. Sometimes you are tired and just want to lay around together after the kids are in bed. That’s totally fine. If you usually just lay next to each other, start switching things up. Actually cuddle while you watch TV or unwind before sleep.
Actually touching each other helps you to connect in new ways, and it even releases tension and stress. You’re more likely to talk when you are touching, so that’s further reason to touch. And it goes without saying that cuddling can sometimes lead to more; who can deny that a great sex life helps make you feel more balanced and happy?
4. Turn of the screens for one hour a night
Family time is really limited when you think about it. The kids spend hours at school all day, and then they may even have other activities throughout the week. Parents typically work all day and then have the demands of running a household on top of that.
So prime family time on a day to day basis is really just dinner time and the short period of time before and after that. Unfortunately, what tends to be in our homes and cut into that time? Screens. Tablets, smartphones, TVs, video games, etc. While those are fun and can sometimes be our family time (Friday night movie and popcorn, anyone?), mostly they are a distraction from the most important people in your life, during your very limited family time.
So, every night, preferably around dinnertime, mandate a one-hour screen free time. It’s only one hour, and in that hour you’ll be amazed and how much quality time you can get in. Because when you are free from distractions, you can all think of stuff to do together. Perhaps a family bike ride, or just board games. You could even read a chapter of a classic book. Whatever your family wants to do! Even just sitting and talking.
It’s the little day to day moments that build your family and your marriage, and they are fleeting. Hold onto the moments you can get now. Date your spouse regularly and cuddle; get organized with a family calendar and mandate the no screen hour. You’ll be more balanced with your marriage and family life in no time.