If you’re like most parents, you’ve spent a lot more time than normal with your children over the past few months. And you probably didn’t get a lot of kid-free time with your partner.
Things are now starting to open up a bit more. (At least as of this writing — who knows if cases shoot up again?) But you still might not feel comfortable sending your kids off to camps or childcare unless you have to.
So, what can you do to increase the amount of quality time you get with your partner? You have to use the resources available to you. But we have several suggestions.
Encourage Sibling Play
If you have two or more kids, now is the time to help them realize how much fun their brother or sister is. This may take a bit of hand-holding at first if your kids aren’t used to playing together for long stretches. But the second things start going well, you should make yourself scarce!
The more often they play together, the better they’ll get at it. Even better, it’s a great way to help them continue to socialize at a time when being around other kids may not be on your radar yet.
To help them get better at it, don’t rush in immediately to negotiate disagreements. Unless you see bullying behavior, consider kindly but firmly telling them to figure it out by themselves.
Utilize Your Backyard
In our world of endless screens and games and dolls, it can be easy to forget that one of the best “toys” for children is simply to set them loose outside. Seriously. It’s an amazing way to get kid-free time. Even if you don’t consider your child “outdoorsy,” you might be surprised by how quickly they take to exploring their own (literal) backyard.
If they need a little help to get started, give them supplies. Permission to use the hose. A bucket of dirt. Sports equipment. Paint and brushes. Here’s a messy but fun one: cans of cheap soda that they are allowed to spray at each other.
If you don’t have outdoor items already and are on a low budget, look for a local “Buy Nothing” group on Facebook. You may be surprised by what people are ready to part with that your family can enjoy.
Forgive Yourself for Going Over on Screentime
We know, we know: advocating screens is taboo. And we’re not saying you should just let your kids sit around all day in front of a screen.
However, if you’re ever going to let it slide a bit to keep them entertained, this is a good time to do it. And if there was ever a good reason for this, your relationship certainly qualifies.
If it makes you feel better about it, look for educational programs and games.
Stop Making Bedtime a Suggestion
With no work or school for many people, it can be all-too-easy to let routines fall by the wayside and ease up on things like bedtime.
But don’t do it. Especially if you have younger children, going to bed early is not only better for them, it provides you and your partner with a few much-needed hours of kid-free time before you turn in for the night.
Want more ideas on keeping your relationship strong during this time? Get in touch with Norene Gonsiewski and Tim Higdon.