Since getting back from our Burning Man trip this summer, I've been thinking a lot about family dynamics and all of the individual relationships that comprise one big family. Noam and I were away, just the two of us, for several days without our kids on the other side of the country. During this time alone, our own personal connection grew in new and exciting ways - in different ways, too, from how it grows while in our Dekel family dynamic with our three little ones. You may have seen my Burning Man article from the end of the summer in which I talked about this trip and our newfound love at length. We missed Yuli, Ori, and Romi dearly, all the while enjoying each other's love and the special time away. The overarching question that's been on my mind since the trip is what comes first: your kids or your relationship?
I know - it's a deep question, with so many complex facets and ways to approach answering it. There's nothing on the planet that I love more than my own children - they are my flesh and blood. I quite literally created them from my and my husband's beings. But, Noam is by far the closest human to me - my other half, the ying to the yang that are my soul and heart. Essentially, this is an impossible question to effectively answer. They say that kids are the most important aspect of a fulfilled life for a parent, and I can't disagree. But, if Noam and I don't find time for a weekly date night or one-on-one hang, I lose my mind and he suffers from it! :)
Happy parents make for happy kids, right?
So, the question then began to evolve into something more like this: how can we find time for each other, just the two of us, when we have zero family around to care for the kids on a spur-of-the-moment or last-minute basis? Since all (and I really do mean all) of our family is halfway around the world, we really do feel the absence of that priceless family factor - for example, dropping off the kids with a real family member to watch them for a few hours when Mommy and Daddy take time for themselves.
As I think about go-tos for effectively managing family time and parent-relationship time, I came up with a few suggestions and I'd love to share them with you (and get feedback from the rest of the mamas out there who may also be feeling like there aren't enough hours in the day and maintaining all of the family relationships is getting harder every minute!).
1) Call a Babysitter: It's worth it. I promise you this. If spending the money on a babysitter is out of the question ( sitters charge a fortune these days), then I suggest asking a nanny, if you have one that comes every so often, to adjust their hours - perhaps a bit later in the day or a bit earlier in the morning - so that you and your husband can find special pockets of time, albeit short ones, to enjoy each others' company. Noam and I try to do this (and forego the extra spending on a babysitter) and head out to early evening/ late afternoon snack and an adult drink. Win-win, all around. And, no extra money lost. If you have older kids at home who are willing to care for their younger siblings for a bit of time, that works too.
2) Seek Out Special Fun for the Kids: two weeks ago, for the first time since living in BK, there was a Halloween party in a small Gymboree in our neighborhood. I wasn't sure how the weather would hold up for the holiday, so I planned in advance to send both of our boys there with another mama friend who sent their kids to the festivities, as well. It was a drop-off style party and we essentially had three hours to ourselves. Although Romi was with us and we didn't do anything out-of-the ordinary re: fun (actually Noam was painting a second coat on our new all - yes we are still in construction and it drives me crazy!), but it was overall a great time hanging out, laughing, and talking, after putting baby Romi down for a nap. When I brought the kids back, they told me how much fun they had there. Yuli even said, in all seriousness, that he would go there "billions of times if he could!" Now that I know how much fun the kids had, I'll continue to seek out short classes or fun children's activities close-to-home that make for easy dropoff and pickup and provide the kids with loads of fun (and Noam and I with some parent time).
3) Take Turns with Other Parents: One of the best things about living in Brooklyn is the fact that we've met so many other wonderful families with kids close-by, around the same ages as our Yuli and Ori. We've developed close relationships with these families and our kids often have playdates with their kids. We love hosting the boys' friends over at our house, giving the other children's parents some time off to themselves, and equally enjoy taking advantage of our time together when the boys are playing at their friend's houses. All parents get it. And, supporting our friends and knowing that they support us is a huge asset, on both ends.
I would love to hear how you mamas carve out time for your significant others (check out the blog post I did about How To keep The Spark Alive!) , and balance all of the many familial commitments thrown at you every day. I am continually inspired by all of the mamas I meet - through events, the boys' school and extra-curriculars, the neighborhood, even social media! - and believe that we all have the power to help each other and inspire each other through how we live our lives and the creative ways we choose to parent.
Here are some kid free moments... not too many, but still documented!
Looking forward to hearing what you all think XX