Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Working Moms: Make Time for Date Night (or Day)

Over the years, Date Night has somehow turned into Nonexistent Date Night. It's a problem many working parents face, but instead of trying to make time when we're exhausted after work, we decided to date during the day.

On a recent national holiday, as I was scrambling to figure out how I was going to juggle work and childcare, I realized that I didn’t actually have to drive in to the office that day and, for some reason, my kids’ daycare was actually open.

My husband didn’t have to drive in to the office, either. But he’s so used to having to catch up on work from home, and I’m so used to having a big bunch of freelance irons in the fire, that it took us a while to see the potential in the situation: Work (optional) + daycare (open) = pre-paid childcare and time to ourselves. Alone.

He did the math more quickly than I did; when he asked me if I wanted to go to the movies after I dropped the wee ones off, I almost told him that I had been planning to work from home that day and wouldn’t have time. Sad, isn’t it?

When you and your partner are both working and juggling all the time, its easy to let your relationship simmer along on the back burner. When we first started dating and everything was new and shiny and the angels sang each and every time we gazed at each other over the candle-lit dinner table, we were sure that we’d always make time for Date Night. It was easy then; even though we already had kids (from his first marriage), when they were with their mom, our time was ours to divide between work and play as we saw fit.

As life got more hectic and we got married and added our fourth child to the family, Date Night was still a regular thing, it was just rarely outside of the house. My husband worked nights, I worked days, Friday and Saturday nights were the only times that we both had off, so making time to be together was a priority. We’d tuck everyone into bed, turn up the baby monitors, turn down the lights, crack open the wine, pop in a movie, et voila – Date Night.

Then our schedules shifted again. The end of maternity leave with child number five coincided with my husband taking a job on the day side. Money got even tighter once we had to pay for childcare (before, the kids were with my husband while I was at work, and vice versa). I took on more freelance assignments. His new job required him to do so much that he often brought work home with him. The office hooked him up with a BlackBerry, and suddenly he was double fisting the workload, laptop on the table, infernal CrackBerry by his side.

More and more often, Date Night morphed into Both-of-Us-Working-in-the-Same-Room-with-the-TV-On-Night. And, after a while, we weren’t even in the same room.


So, when he asked me if I wanted to go to the movies that day, my first thought was, “But I have so much work to do!” (Thank goodness, I had already had some coffee, and my second thought followed quickly: “A date! Say yes!”)

I said, “Yes.” We caught a movie, and rediscovered how cheap a matinee can be. We drove past a new restaurant and stopped and had lunch and rediscovered that we actually had more to talk about than work. We got home and rediscovered how quiet the house is when the kids are all at school.

By the time we picked the kids up late that afternoon, we had rediscovered the importance of “Date” — and that the “Night” part was optional.

How do you stay connected?

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