As gratifying and life-affirming as raising a child can be, sometimes couples need a little time to ... well, themselves.
Here, five couples explain how they squeezed a little 'us time' into their hectic schedules.
MAKE A STANDING DATE
“Before our twin girls arrived, a close friend said: 'Whatever you do, book a date night each week. It’ll save your sanity and quite possibly your marriage.' That’s exactly what we did … Thursday night is date night without fail. We hire a babysitter, go out for dinner, and try hard not to talk about the girls—and always fail.”
“One thing we've learned is to never let a friend babysit. It's cheaper, but we spent the whole night worrying we had to get back. At least with a proper babysitter, they're earning money, so they don't care if it gets late."
Paul Glendenning, dad of Emily and India, aged 18 months.
LESS IS MORE
"Looking back now it seems pretty mundane, but whenever we got the chance to have a night off, we'd simply play Scrabble with a glass of wine and then have an early night. It's not news to say that being a parent can be exhausting. Making sure we were rested and ready for whatever the next day brought took priority over a wild night out!"
Nicky Hull, mom of Lucas, aged 7.
TAKE A WALK
"Going out on a proper date night was never possible—we didn't have family to call on, and it was an extra expense. So we kept it simple. Whenever a friend offered to sit with Sam while he was asleep, we'd just head out for a walk. We tried not to talk about Sam, but it was impossible not to. And that didn't matter. Just getting out brought us back to who we were and made us appreciate everything far more."
Tony Dear, dad of Sam and Madeline, aged 13 and 10.
LUNCH TABLE FOR TWO
"We never had the time to take a whole night out. Plus we had twins, so we were always too tired. Instead, we met once a week for lunch while the boys were in kindergarten. Every time was a new restaurant, close enough for us to get to from our offices. We only had an hour, and we were at work so we didn't drink, but just having that hour to ourselves felt like a throwback to before we had kids and we had that freedom. That's what you learn, that you just have to take whatever opportunities come your way!"
Sarah Burdett, mom of Louis and James, aged 9.
JUST GO FOR IT
"To us, 'time off' from the kids only really counts if it's during the day when you're already looking after them or an evening and following morning. Because a late night is painful at 6 a.m. the next morning—particularly if a small person is pulling your eyelids open.”
“What you actually do with your time off doesn't really matter. Go out for dinner or to the movie theater, cook a meal at home, and watch more than one episode of your favorite show for a change. Even just get a really good night's sleep. Whatever it is, just make sure it re-energizes you."
Louis Massarella, dad of Lola and Bruno, aged 5 and 3.
"If you have a health spa close by, I can't recommend enough that you take advantage [of it]. We used to sneak away for a few hours when we could. It was lovely to just be together and step off the new parent rollercoaster for a bit. It was nice to remind ourselves we were still the same people who enjoyed so much together, just more tired."
Karen Trudgill, mom of Eva and Issy, aged 7 and 5.