Each evening after getting Emily to bed, Rob and I were spending way too much time cleaning up and preparing for the next day. By the time we got everything done we were both worn out and unmotivated to do anything else on our to-do list, or to even spend quality time talking to each other, so we’d end up crashing in front of a TV show to unwind before bed.
Emily is getting older, so she goes to bed a little later. Rob gets up so early for PT that he doesn’t want to stay up super late. As a result of this “husband & wife only” time window getting smaller, I felt like I was really missing out on personal communication between myself and my husband.
Don’t get me wrong – we were talking. In fact, we work amazingly well together as team and I am so incredibly blessed to have a husband who is truly my partner in every way. He’s awesome at helping with cooking, cleaning & parenting – even after a full, long day at work. As soon as we’d get Emily to bed, we would jump into gear working together like a well-oiled machine getting everything done.
Breakfast prepared for the next day? (Rob takes both breakfast & lunch to work since he leaves so early) Check.
Lunch made & packed? Check.
PT clothes set out? Check.
Regular uniform ready for changing into after PT? Check.
Dinner dishes done & kitchen cleaned up? Check.
Anything else that needs to be packed & prepared for the next day’s activities? Check.
I know it doesn’t look like much, but it just felt like we were go-go-go when we wanted to relax. We both work so well together that we got it done, but it felt more like a job than it did fun interaction with my husband.
Each night, we make a point of having a family dinner at the table because it’s important to us to have that quality time as a family – often playing a fun board game or even watching an episode of Iron Chef while eating. After dinner, we’d have devotional time and bedtime story time with Emily where we read a story a chapter at a time (just finished The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe) followed by Emily’s favorite ending to the day – an “elephant ride” on Daddy’s back – all the way to bed. Once in bed, we do bedtime prayers, hugs & kisses and tucks before saying goodnight. It’s a fun routine and I’m going to enjoy it as long as she’ll let us do it – but once it’s all over, I’m ready for some quality time relaxing or having fun with my hubby. Instead, we were spending the next hour or so cleaning up, packing & preparing for the next day. We hadn’t included Emily in this part before because by the time we got everything else done, it was her bedtime and we just didn’t think about it.
The Simple Solution?
Recently the thought occurred to us – let’s have some family time in the kitchen after dinner before starting the bedtime routine! Emily LOVES to help in the kitchen and around the house (another thing I’m enjoying while it lasts!), so why not include her at night? She already helps with many chores around the house during the day, so let’s include her in the process to get things ready for the next day.
Now she unloads the dishwasher (and puts the dishes away!) all by herself, while Rob gets his uniforms ready and I prepare his meals. It’s a beautiful picture of teamwork and is a definite “win-win” for all of us. We get extra time together as a family without extending her bedtime by much and by the time Emily is tucked into bed for the night, Rob and I have plenty of time and energy to enjoy some quality time together. We read together, play a game together, work on a project or discuss those important things that need to be discussed. We still watch some TV at night, but only after we’ve had our quality time.
I cant believe we didn’t do this sooner!