Lately my kids have been asking if today is our Tea Party Day (Tuesday). This makes me so happy, we borrowed the idea from another local home schooling family and my kids are absolutely in love with it. As I was looking at our silver and china ready for Tuesday it got me thinking.
It is surprising to me how much my kids look forward to certain rituals and traditions we have. Some, like the tea party, are weekly and some, like Thanksgiving in 100 Mile, are yearly. Regardless of how often they happen I realized tonight they happen consistently, we prioritize them and we work hard to make sure they happen. Some involve logistics and planning like for travel we need to arrange for the dog, take time off work and put aside money to pay for it. Some just require energy and time, like our tea parties, involve me putting aside chores or other activities and spending time with the kids.
It got me thinking about rituals with my spouse, and the time and energy we put into those. Recently a girlfriend asked a group of us about how each of us do this and keep our relationship with our significant other a priority. I think it was nice to see so many different answers and also to hear that everyone struggles with this. We often think we put ourselves last, but I actually think in our house we put our time together last. I do not feel my relationship is less because of it, or that we do not love each other or respect and admire each other. I think Fraser and I have an amazing relationship, I love the way we respect each other and I think part of what is so surprising is that we spend so much time together and still enjoy spending time with each other. However just because our day to day is spent together and we are home at the same time doesn’t mean we spend quality time together. My guess is part of the reason I tend to put our time together last is because I feel so supported and loved that I don’t always think we need our time together compared to other priorities. However, I am aware just because something seems good doesn’t mean you should ignore it, you still water plants that are growing!
It got me thinking about things we might have done in the past that have kinda slowly slipped away (like giving cards for no reason, leaving each other notes just because or even just checking in with each other about ourselves not our kids and small kind gestures like picking up a favourite snack when at the store or making each other morning coffee/tea). I think with families and busy lives this is bound to happen but it is always a good reminder that everyone likes to feel listened too and appreciated.
I know for us we are not weekly date night people (or even monthly). We prefer a weekend or night away over a dinner out. We both would rather save up for a bigger/ longer time away then take small little nights out. With kids and life being busy and Frasers work schedule dinners out have been more of a pain than a treat. I find it hard to leave behind the “to do” list on a quick couple hour dinner out and Fraser usually has to work graveyards and should be in bed resting instead of out for dinner (trying to work on rest as a priority has been a struggle for him). Last years weekend in Tofino or this years cancelled kidless Hawaii is what keeps us going. The idea of time together long enough to unwind is something we both appreciate.
Covid has changed the way we can ask for help, or hire out things we need. Another way we used to be able to have quality time together was by hiring such amazing sitters for our kids but we haven’t done that in a really long time. I think it has reminded me to get more creative with our time, and to take advantage of the time we do end up together alone. We always loved trying to go out for brunch, taking the dog for a walk in between school drop offs and pick ups or even just shopping without our kids. Our new homeschool schedule has left us with more time with our kids (which is its own blessing), but means less time alone together. I think the new challenge will be how we spend this time and show our kids that we prioritize each other as much as we do them and ourselves.
Relationships take work, and I appreciate that even when times are hard (say like during a pandemic), or when we are frustrated with each other (never happens, because I am near perfect but if I was annoying FF) we still love each other and genuinely want to be together. I can’t imagine doing this life without Fraser.
It is always nice to hear suggestions from couples who have found ways to make time together or have favourite rituals. It has been a good reminder to just make time for each other, when we need to we can somehow make time for lots of other stuff so why not something as important as the person you are closest too.
I wonder if sometimes in life, like when your kids are little, your solo time will be less but that will change faster than you know it. Already my little kids are gaining more independence and less desire to be around us all the time. I am grateful that we still look forward to time together, and the idea of getting to travel or take time without our kids is something we enjoy. I like that we get to spend so much time together as a family so maybe our quality time doesn’t have to be without our kids but is instead with our kids, as long as we are showing them that they are not the only ones who matter but that Fraser and I do too!
Would love to hear how other families or couples have prioritized their spouses and have created rituals or quality time? Please share
For now I am looking forward to Thanksgiving in the Cariboo with our whole family. It may not be time away from the kids but it is time where Fraser isn’t working at night so maybe campfire drinks after we put our kids to bed will be our quality time for now!