I Think Parents Should Skip Work Sometimes to Keep Their Relationships Healthy
By Natalie Ruskin
Photo © Boris79/Twenty20
Dec 11, 2019
Ah, date night.
The oft-touted yet seldom heeded counsel for modern-day parents.
Without scheduled date nights, I feel dragged through months of long work days, rushed bedtimes and overscheduled weekends without truly connecting with my partner in a tender, meaningful way.
I know how important emotional intimacy is for us in our parenting partnership.
Read another mother's perspective on finding romance after the baby comes here.
And I know how much we enjoy date night when it actually happens.
And I know that the only way to make it happen is to plan for it.
Like pre-booking a massage or yoga class, the seemingly unromantic scheduling of date nights feels like the only way to protect this much-needed piece of intimacy without the predictable tsunami of endless and pressing needs. With date night in the books, babysitting secured and restaurant reserved, I am setting up a no-fail solution to hang out with my beloved in a connected and special way.
Except, this isn't the only way to have some healthy alone time with your partner.
Why Day Dates Are Where It's At
For the first few years of babyland, nights out for me felt really challenging. My children are early birds — our three- and five-year-old kids still rise regularly at 5:15 a.m. — and I found it really hard to stay alert and engaged beyond 9 p.m.. That’s why date days are where it’s at — for us.
With kids in school or daycare, we take a day (or even half-day) to hang out together without the cost of securing babysitting, skipping the kids’ sacred bedtime or feeling exhausted after 8 p.m..
Yes, I get that date days are not possible for everyone.
Some of us have daily commitments that don't make it easy to play hooky.
But I think there is value in taking more restorative days off of work.
Working on You
Some of us overachievers favour the comfort of overworking and fear what others will think of us if we miss work beyond an absolute emergency or planned vacation.
For perspective: When you reach the end of your career, will you look back and regret the extra few days a year of work you missed or will you regret the fact that you could have spent more quality time with those you loved the most?
If you work in a corporate setting, there are unofficial mental health days (or, if necessary, sick days) which we can make use of. Your boss doesn’t need to know the details of what you will be doing that day.
Whether it’s seeing a therapist, getting to the spa, or going on a date day, the result will be the same: a more productive and engaged employee returning to work the next day.
Working on Your Relationship
Oh, I can just feel the eyes rolling and the skeptics chiming in on this controversial suggestion to skip off work for the day.
But, when it comes to our primary relationship as a parenting couple and what’s required to make this core unit thrive, sometimes I have to get controversial. Sometimes I have to pull out all the stops and come up with unconventional solutions to find the space and time to nurture our love.
Because relationships take work.
As a modern, urban working mother, I wear multiple hats. I need to become really savvy about preserving my spousal bond — a sacred and primary anchor in my life. When the taproot of this relationship is healthy, everything else in my life is healthy. Whatever it takes, I need to take a stand for this relationship and see it as an ongoing, living and breathing system.
So, if mental health days are not an option at all, then a vacation day is the way to go. Again, this won't be an option for everyone — because how our lives are structured is so different from person to person, family to family.
A Case for Day Dates
On a day date, I can let our time together breathe for a whole day or afternoon without the rushed two-hour window of a date night. I can hang out with my buddy in a spontaneous way, stroll around town and not have any plans — just like we did before kids.
We can go back to bed together during the day when no one is home!
And the pressure of romantic connection over a candle-lit dinner is off. We can be with each other, alongside each other and allow the intimacy to emerge organically on its own.
Like some of you, I only ever realize how needed dates are when I step away from my daily habitual life. Now that I've discovered the power of a day date, I have realized that I don't want to put off these opportunities for connection any longer.
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