“Daddy’s home!” shrills Master Four as my husband’s ute pulls into the driveway.
And it’s on. Daddy’s about to have four stories coming at him all at once. Mine included.
While I’m adult and I understand the kids are excited to see their father, sometimes I just want (need) his undivided attention. What I have to say is often important too.
However, I have learned that unless what I need to talk about is urgent, that it can wait. It can wait through the homecoming, it can wait through the dinner banter and it can wait through the bedtime routine. But there does come a time when I need my husband’s undivided attention. You know, to do the adulting.
My children’s time with their father is important, and I love the way he gives them his attention. But I do know that it is important for couples to have time to themselves and for children to know that that time is sacred. Children need to understand that they are not the most important people in the family and that all the other members of the family do not revolve around them.
There are countless studies and books about this topic. But take a step back and think of the simple logic here. If you raise a child to believe they are the priority, that they deserve all the attention, always, what lessons are you really giving them? If when they speak, you bow... what happens when they enter the real world and this isn’t so?
Of course we need to build our children up to believe they are important, they matter and they are SOME OF the most important people in our worlds. But thought for others, compassion, care and kindness come from working as a team. Even if you are the leader, the team works much, much better if you have respect for the other members.
So as parents we need to set aside time each day, each week, each month, each year. To connect as a couple and enjoy those things we did before children. We also need to come together as parents and make decisions on raising our children together. Making decisions away from the children helps us we stand united when the going gets tough.
How do we make time to be together as partners while still making parenting a priority? I know that for the most part, women are much more eager to sit down and verbally nut through problems on a regular basis - we love to talk, it’s the way we tick. Men, not so much. I’ve tried to overcome this by asking my husband and to sit down on a Sunday morning with a coffee while the kids are occupied. We explain to them that Mummy and Daddy need this time to talk and be adults together. It works about 50% of the time - the rest of the time I’m trying to work out how to maintain my husband’s focus and keep the children busy! While it might be easier to do this on a date night or when we’re all out of the house and the kids aren’t demanding our attention (eg at a park), these events don’t occur on a regular and predictable basis in my life. It matters to me that the children understand it is important for their parents to connect as partners, separate from their Mummy and Daddy roles, so that they can be better and happier as people - which benefits the whole family. So I make a point of having this time together while the children are present in the house. These chats work well when the topics are easy, but are much harder when they highlight different parenting values and approaches . If this happens, I often suspend the chat until we have a longer uninterrupted time. When the kids are in bed for example.
This one is a work in progress for me and I’d love to hear what works for you. As a fellow imperfect parent, how do you manage to spend time as a couple to connect and make parenting decisions? What do you think you are getting right already in regards to togetherness? What do you want to change?
My tip sheet for this week gives you some ideas to get started - if you'd like to get your hands on it, drop me an email or a comment below and I'll send it direct to your inbox!