Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Struggle

Here at House of Joy, where every day is the same, it feels like there isn't really any time for K and I to spend together other than parenting time.

Bleck.

Once the children go to bed there's about an hour that each of us can use to do whatever grown up things we want. (Like obsessively reading other people's diaries on the internet, watching TV, reading Tolstoy and making homemade jam.)

How is it possible to be a couple with two toddlers?

We're too tired to date each other... and even if we weren't...

On weekdays there's only two and a half hours between when we pick the kids up from daycare and put them to bed.

We feel like we should spend that time with them.

So if a babysitter came after bedtime, what does that leave us?

Movies don't start until 9:00... because movie theaters have no idea how much money they could make off of parents if they just started a show at 8:30 so you could watch, get home, get to bed at a semi-reasonable time so that your eyes didn't BURN when the children woke at 5:43 a.m. ready to start the day.

But no.

Dinner? Ha!

We ate that at 5:30 because the children were pounding their fists and screaming,

"SALAMI NOW! SALAMI NOW!"
(What is with our children's obsession with Salami?)

We think about getting into some kind of weekend babysitter routine, but it's hard. They spend a lot of time at daycare while we work during the week. We are torn.

Maybe we need to come up with a "date at home" strategy.

I have read various ideas on blogs before - twinkle lights in the bedroom, romantic movie picnics right at home...

It's not that my relationship with K is in trouble.

I think we both feel like we have a pretty solid foundation of love for one another.

It's just that right now one or the other of our children is throwing a tantrum at all times.

Having an 18 month old and a two and a half year old in the house is like living with two jack hammers.

One of them is constantly hammering away at the nearest road or sidewalk, breaking up the concrete and JANGLING OUR LAST NERVE.

The noise.

The constant, ceaseless, noise makes me feel like someone is rubbing my head back and forth across a cheese grater.

It is stressful.

It saps our energy for anything beyond simply getting through it.

When they finally go to bed we are zombies.

Before we had children we used to go out to dinner (and talk), go to films and then out for coffee (and talk), go to lectures (and then talk) or take walks (and talk the whole way.)

These days, talking to K has been reduced to ...

3:30 a.m.

"You get up."

"No, You get up."


6:47 a.m.

"Can you get Rooster some socks?

Oh, and her medicine?"



5:43 p.m.


"I CAN'T HEAR YOU OVER THE MAYOR SCREAMING."


6:17 P.M.


"I CAN'T HEAR YOU OVER THE ROOSTER SCREAMING."


8:14 p.m.


"bu bu bu bu bu bu bu bu bu."

I think both of us worry that we could wake up in five years feeling estranged from one another and not have even noticed it happening.

We want to be a little proactive if that's possible.

What do other couples do? How do they keep their relationship as a couple alive with little kids?

We struggle.

46 comments:

Dysfunctional Housewife said...

I have 2 that are 1 yr apart, and although they are now 'tweenies', Their toddler years were hard. Now with my 1 toddler, I wonder how we did it with 2. My advice would be to find a teen girl that lives nearby, who has a flexible schedule who can help with the kids at a short notice when you guys need a break. Dates don't have to be long, just quality time to connect. AND you could stay home, with the sitter watching the kids in another part of the house, but keeping them out of your hair. It gets SO much better once they are in the older 4 yr zone. Don't worry hon, your in the home stretch and doing GREAT! I have a teenager too..THATS when the tough times really roll in..after they've already got you beaten down! ROFL

QueenieBadd said...

I so know what you mean. Big Daddy and I have the same struggles. By the time the kids are sleeping, neither of us has the energy to be romantic. I think it's normal-it's nature's plan to keep you from having too many children too fast...

We tried having a "date" at home-we got little fingery foods, and sat at the table for like, an hour, talking, and then watched a movie. It was nice and refreshing, actually. Our schedule also allows us to talk on the phone while Big Daddy's driving to and from work, and I think that helps us keep in touch too.

But yeah, it's hard. I'd like to tell you it gets easier as they get older, but, um, not really. There's less screaming, but more interacting, so that when they go to bed, I don't want to talk anymore.

But if you guys keep gettin' nekkid, at least you'll have that in common....

Mysit said...

Lunch. If at all possible - have lunch together.

Or - find some way to leave work early one afternoon - meet K for a movie, then go for a beer (or coffee - that works too) after and spend that time together. We try to do this at least every couple of months. Currently I just take vacation time - but I've never been above faking a sick kid to leave work early to have a little afternoon delight or a movie.

Either works for me ;-)

Veronica Mitchell said...

We have a three-yr-old and a 20-month-old, and another one on the way. I have gone through periods of feeling really disconnected from my husband, but right now things are really good. It wasn't exactly romance I missed, but the conversations where he talked to me and found me interesting.

The two things that helped us a lot were a change in his work schedule to four ten-hour days (which obviously isn't possible for everyone), and, oddly enough, my blogging. He reads my blog, and he loves seeing people respond to it. He talks to me about every post.

We have real conversations again, even if they are at an extra-loud volume. I'm not sure where exactly we fit them in. Some weeks the only alone-time we have is when the kids are in their Sunday School class and we are in the church parlor sipping coffee. We also don't sleep on the same schedule, so whispered pillow conversations are not an option. But we steal a few moments here and there, when the kids are sleeping or playing. It's not predictable, but it is regular, if that makes any sense.

Rachel said...

I know what you mean. Even with one, it's hard to get away sometimes. Bella has an early bedtime, and that helps, but I think if I were working all day I would want to spend more time with her at night. We have had take-out dates after we put her to bed, but it's not the same because I am thinking about all the stuff I need to do around the house.

Maybe this will help:

http://www.dadcentric.com/2007/01/the_top_5_paren.html#comment-27943511

:)

Natalie said...

You guys make me not want to have children. But I do want to so I guess I'll have to suck it up.

Mimi said...

I hear ya!

We feed the kids at 5:00ish on Fri-Sun Nights and have "at home" dates on the weekends. We eat after the kids are in bed at 7:00. That way we can eat food the kids don't like (curry, mexican, etc...) and we get to have a meal with out,"Sit down... Eat your broccoli... Don't eat with your mouth full!"

Sometimes after dinner we watch TiVo'd movies, shows, sometimes we listen to music and put together puzzles.

It's a far cry from going out the the pubs/bars and listening to bands, playing pool, and general merriment we had when we were kid-less, but it works for us!

Good luck!

MamaLee said...

Oh my dear, I understand 100%. Finding time is difficult with little ones. With my husbamd out of town all week, our first priority tends to be family time. BUT...we know that our marriage also needs tending to. Without much help from family (ERG) but with a couple of friends, we do get a date night probably once every couple of months. We know it needs to be more.

You guys need to get OUT. Get a sitter, schedule a night once a month, and go. Dress up, have some wine, and LAUGH. There is nothing like being able to sit across your husband, look his in the eyes and actually have NO distractions (i.e. Mommy, blah blah blah).

Just do it. You'll be refreshed, and you won't find yourself losing each other along the way.

xoxo

Patience said...

Ya gotta do the date thing! Any date thing, away from the house, away from the kids! Ya just gotta!! Hire a sitter. Call a granny. Sumpin!!

The best gift you can give your children is your undying love for one another!

cece said...

My girls are 4 years apart so we've never had that level of chaos to begin with. But how we keep it together is we go on vacation witout them! Seriously.

A few times a year, Mister and I will pack up for a weekend trip out of town w/o the kids. We've gone to Vegas (3 hour drive for us). One year we went to visit friends in WA TWICE that year w/o the kids. Twice we've gone on a week long cruise, too, without them. It gives us time to not only recharge out batteries but to reconnect as lovers.

We both work but instead of a "day care" my girls are next door with my grandmother so I've always got a babysitter on hand. When we go out of town we utilize my family (grandma, mom or sister). They usually don't mind having the kids for a few days of alone time.

To us, its very important that we make US time in addition to all the Mom/Dad time. It keeps us sane. Don't get me wrong, we take the kids on vacations and trips, too, but we make sure we schedule time away. That usually means planning a few months out just to make it happen.

This March we're going to Mexico for 3 days with friends. When we get back from Mexico, we'll be home one day & off to Vegas for 2 more days! Then we'll be nice and rested & ready to tackle the daily life of children.

Hope you find something soon. Sounds like you need a break!

Mad Hatter said...

Damn, IE crashed and took my comment. Oh well, it was likely all preachy anyway. All I was going to say is "the road is long. A marriage is about "bu bu bu bu" as much as it is about any host of other things. Soon your kids won't be talking to you and you and your husband will bond once again as allies against the evil puberty hormones. Best, Mad.

Kim said...

I know exactly how you feel! We actually love to spend time with our boys and sometimes feel sad when we are out without them. But sanity requires it! Fortunately, our next door neighbors have boys the same age as ours, so we are able to take turns having date nights once in awhile. When we go out, they watch our kids and we do the same for them when they go out. We don't do it a lot and when we do, we're usually out by 6pm-ish and home by 9-ish. Everyone has such great ideas! You just have to find what works for you!

Christina_the_wench said...

If I've said it once, I've said it a hundred times.

Duct tape and Dimetapp. Add ear plugs for flavor.

Try less guilt and more couple time. What good are you to them if you aren't allowed to let loose once in awhile?

wendy boucher said...

Date nights proved to be just the ticket for us and you know what? Girlie prefers time spent with a college age sitter better than with us anyway. So no guilt. Mayor and Rooster will be kicking your asses out the door come Saturday nights.

Mama G said...

I feel your pain. The one thing that helps the Husband and I is that once a month we both day a day off work, take our son to pre-school, and then spend the day together. Long, leisurely breakfast out where we sit and actually read the newspaper, an afternoon movie, and whatever else comes to mind.

Because we, too, feel guilty if we're not spending all of our free time with our son (both of us work), this has been the only way we've been able to keep our connection going.

Good luck!

Janet a.k.a. "Wonder Mom" said...

What happened to frying bacon naked???? I thought that did it for you two???? I was even thinking of trying it...


And I e-mailed Jeff...Wish me luck and thank you.

mamatulip said...

Oh man, do I hear you on this one. LOUD AND CLEAR, sista.

If it makes you feel any better, it's the same thing over here. When Dave gets home we want to talk to each other, while we still have some energy left. But we can't hear ourselves over the noise and the screaming. And by the time we put the noise and the screaming to bed, it's all we can do to talk to each other.

Throw selling a house in the mix and well...we're zombies.

But you know what we do that helps us connect? It might sound silly, but here it is: we play games. We're both big gamers. We play cards, backgammon, Scrabble, Yahtzee!, Uno, video games (our current obsession is Guitar Hero...that game RAWKS!!)...it's fun and it's something we enjoy doing together. We don't do it every night, but at least twice a week, we bust out a game.

Because we're nerds like that.

carrie said...

I think a date night (at least monthly) is in order. And, it will benefit your kids oodles when they're older and you're still together, so don't feel guilty about it.

Happy parents make for happy kids!

I wish I lived closer, then we could babysit!

Carrie

Karen Forest said...

I have to admit that after I read this post I felt somewhat relieved. You know what they say....Misery loves company.

My husband and I are the parents of a 3 year old and an 19 month old. I can totally relate to what you are saying.

Since I am at home with the kids two days during the work week, I desperately need time with him to connect to him as my husband. However, being the great father that he is, is reluctant to do this.

I am honestly afraid of waking up and not knowing who my husband is and only knowing my kids father. You would think that after being with someone for 14 years you wouldn't have these 'communication' problems. But you do. I guess everyone does.

And all this time you were my idol having the energy to get nekkid all the time. Never fear. With stamina like that you still remain the goal that I shoot for.

Karen Forest said...

OK. Let me clarify. He is reluctant to have time alone with me because he doesn't get to spend as much time with the kids.

NOT because I am a stark raving mad lunatic. I didn't explain this before. Sorry!

Sayre said...

Oh, I hear you!!!! There will be times when you feel a real disconnect with your husband, and learning to recognize when that's happening is half the trick. Then you both take a day off and hang out together.

Now that my son can read, we send him to bed with a book to read and we retire to our own room. Or if there's a show he wants to watch and we don't (Spongebob springs to mind), we tell him that we're going to have a little alone time while he's busy). He understands that we need this or he might wind up living part time at mommy's and part time at daddy's, but he won't have mommy and daddy at the same place. Of course, Z-boy is 7. When he was younger, we just put him to bed earlier or took time off. It is worth the sacrifice.

MamaLee said...

To those of you who have a sitter readily available and HAPPY to help out, you are BLESSED. I don't have that kind of luxury.

If you can get a sitter, PLEASE do out. Happy parents can only translate into happy children.

QT said...

Ummm, I don't even have kids, just two dogs and most of the time I feel guilty leaving them!

I encourage all parents that I know to get a sitter once a month OVERNIGHT. That way you can stay out late and do adult things - in the morning too. I have even been the sitter before. Believe me, once y'all leave, they forget all about you. They are in a new place, watching new movies under a tent blanket in the dark eating forbidden treats.

Don't feel guilty. Your kids won't, that's for sure.

Kevin Charnas said...

I think I need a drink.

Mommy off the Record said...

You guys make homemade jam together? Us too!

Right. Ha!

As for any advice I may have, I got nuttin for you. Perhaps b/c I'm headed straight into the two under two toddler-home soon myself. I have often wished I could fast-forward three years or so to get past this upcoming phase. (Oh God, that so not parentally PC!)

Anyway, I wish you luck figuring it out!

Lotta said...

About 2 months ago I found a sitter by finding out where the local red cross babysitting classes were held. She's super cheap and we take full advantage of her. It took me awhile to see the light since so many of my friends have grandmother's willing to take their offspring at a moment's notice. My mom's still a career woman and not able to do that. So I wallowed in self pity for awhile and then at last booked this sitter for a twice a month standing date night. And hello, I have a marriage back. Some nights. We don't know what to do. We leave and sit in the care and stare at each other. But after about the third time we got into it and next week we are going to see a polka band. No shit. Seriously, book a standing date night with a sitter!

Lotta said...

Meant "sit in the car".

Paige said...

I hear you and I only have one toddler. We do date nights when we can; the rest of the time we read Tolstoy aloud as we feed each other some homemade jam.

In short: Like you, I seek answers.

BethGo said...

Date nights are the only way. Even if you just get out for an hour of cocktails get out alone together. It's so worth it.
I think I'll go cal our babysitter right now.

Slackermommy said...

We struggle also with our very busy household. What helps us reconnect is to LEAVE the house. We go out to dinner and then stay at a hotel. It takes us back to being single and the sex is really hot.

What do you make of my word verification? ubsompus
Is blogger calling me a puss?

Lisa said...

That time has been a blur for me... My hubby was out of town so much my son didn't think he lived with us anymore. We are lucky enough to have grandparents that take our son for a 24 hour period now and again. I don't feel guilty because, hey, he needs to bond with the grandparents... And he watches less tv over there.

I think it IS wise to be proactive now. Is there a way you guys can talk at work on your lunch? Or just a 15 minute talk in the afternoon around 2:30 or 3:30 (you know, when you hit that wall and feel like a zombie. Its nice to have some playful, flirty banter with the honey then...)

My hubby started a new job last week. ANd we're finding with his new schedule that we are hardly talking too. And being that I'm of the needy sort (I need to talk and snuggle) and being that he's of the tired and crabby sort by the end of the day, we've accidentally discovered that if he calls me on his way to work, (with one of those hands-free things) we can talk for a good 25 minutes at least and feel connected... And since he's awake from a good night of sleep, he's in a good mood. And it wakes me up, getting me ready too. That if you are both in transit after dropping off the kids at daycare, you could try?

Just a few thoughts...

Just a thought...

Manic Mom said...

I want to read this but hubby just got home from a biz trip and I need to get upstairs to reconnect with him, if you know what I mean!

But, the hotdogs are Hebrew National Fat free hot dogs (like bun length too!), and the buns are Healthy Life brand, but as long as you get a bun with high fiber you'll be ok.

Tabba said...

I think most of us out there with 2 bundles of "joy" are trying to work it out. I don't know the answers, but I think having a dialogue and being open, honest & aware is the first step. Things wax and wane.
I do have to say though, that the greatest gift I ever gave myself, was finding something that the kids could do independently or something they could do alone together. Even if it is just for a few minutes.

Becky said...

Ooooh, change your 2 1/2 year old boy to a 5 1/2 year old girl and change your 18 month girl to a 21 month girl and you just described my life!! I mean that entire post could have been any given day out of my life.

And I hear you on the babysitter front. You spend all week at work and only a few short hours serving them dinner and putting them to bed in the evenings, so you feel obligated to get in some quality family time on the weekends. Even the, oh, 3-4 times that my husband have managed to go out together on a "date" (usually to a wedding or reunion of some sort) and we've left the girls with my Mom or our close family friend who watches our oldest girl after school... even then, we're usually home by 11 p.m./midnight and the first thing we do is go check on the girls because we miss them so terribly and weren't there to tuck them into their beds.

And, once you've put the kids to bed, the last thing you really want is to start something with your guy because you've just dealt with two screaming clingy kids and you feel like you just need to desensitize or something. Not to mention that your tired from your day... and by the time 11:00 rolls around, you just want to crawl into bed, watch the news and go to sleep.

If you come up with any good solutions, let me know!

Aliki2006 said...

I'm de-lurking to say that we don't do much proactively at this point, either. We have two kids--ages 3 and 6 and we almost never go out, just the two of us. We do end up with our evening time, which ends up being between 2 and 3 hours together to sit on the couch, grade papers in companionable silence, and talk every now and then.

We do want to institute a date night, we just haven't gotten around to it...

And that about says it all!

jen said...

i hate forced date nights....but a weekend away (even a night) can do wonders.

you can make that happen. you can move mountains. you can. go on.

move.

Terri said...

Hum ... I wouldn't know yet...

Mike and I still stay home w/ Matthew and we never go out by ourselves ...

We watch Netflix and have popcorn at home!!

Someday we'll go on a date like the old days.

Shannon said...

I can only say that I empathize. Over the last year we've made some pretty major changes, changes very few people could or would make. With two kids under two and a dying mother (except she lived - thank God - another story), I left my career and started freelancing and my husband works for himself. We decided, probably unreasonably, that we could regain lost financial and career ground when the kids were older. As a result, we still don't get a date very often, but we do get a lot of time with the kids and probably an hour more in the evenings than most other couples in our predicament. Sometimes I miss my old job and I certainly miss academia. I often wonder if my brain is turning to mush and am leaning heavily on sudoku to reverse the damage.

Domestic Slackstress said...

We pull the couch up in front of the TV, pop in a DVD we barely agree on, burn some sexy, swanky candles, I don even swankier threads and put on my make up ever so nicely ... and Voila, you've got at-home date night. Add in the night waking at just the wrong post date night time and you've got a train wreck. Lemme know if your at-home date nights go better. BTW, how the hexagon do you have time to maintain two blogs? I'm amazed. Full time work, kids, a hubby. Geez. You are so dang biz, fo-shiz.

karrie said...

I have not read all the other Joy Seekers, so apologize if someone has suggested this already:

One a month, take a vacation day or the morning off. Call in sick if you must. Take the kids to daycare as you normally would, come home and have Yippee Yahoo time, followed by blowing all of your weekly points at the kind of dive-y diner that college kids cure hangovers with. Then go home and nap together, or more Yippee Yahoo, or go out and take a walk. (Assuming vacation time and not, cough, cough, *sickness*)


:)

Lane said...

We do the kid swap a lot. Fun for them, fun for us. We have a couple of good friends who will watch the kids while we go out, then we return the favor. It's CRAZY when you are the sitter, but heaven when you aren't. Plus it's a fun time for them to spend with friends. Good luck. I think we are all in this boat together.

Panda said...

Oh girl, I am so scanning these comments for some words of wisdom too, because the Spud is rapidly ensuring his role as Only Child.

We have no time for us. None. And we're BOTH home all the time.

Am in awe of your ability to get nekkid. In. Awe.

The Sour Kraut said...

When our children were toddlers, I felt the same way. Now that they're getting a little older and much more independent, TMS and I are closer than ever. I think it's normal to be all about the kids...it's your life...together. There's no one else in the world who has gone through all the ups and downs with the children than your spouse. In our case, it brought us closer.

Mama's Moon said...

How is it that you've managed to touch on two VERY on-my-mind topics this week? Are you tuning in to my very crazy wavelengths? Are ya, hm - hm?!!

We've been struggling with this for what seems like two months now. I used to look forward to date nites regardless of how painful the day after was. But now I almost feel like it's irresponsible for us to have any time to enjoy each other in that capacity bc we only pay for it in the end - and in some ways it hurts the quality time we spend with the kids. I know it's wrong. I know we should be thinking of ourselves so that we can be better able to give back to the kids but in all honesty I'm so drained - emotionally and physically.

It's really sad to try and humble myself with knowing that the only time we have together is when we sit side by side with one another with both of our laptops on. THAT'S our quality time...

Sorry for not being of any help here.

BlondeMom said...

Now that my oldest is 4 1/2 and my youngest is nearly 2 (in March)my husand and I feel like we are finally coming out of the exhausting parenting fog. I understand totally what you are saying about the guilt of going out and having someone babysit them. BUT if you make it a regular thing (and maybe bribe them with McDonald's for dinner) and just do it monthly that's not so bad, is it? And it helps because you can reconnect.

But I hear ya. Oh, and the lunch suggestion is good. Or maybe take a half day off together while the kids are at daycare.

Good luck. We struggle with this at my house, too.

NtycnBoricua said...

I have no advice for you, but feel exactly the same way. By the time we get home from work during the week, we only have about 2 hours before she goes to sleep and we feel like we should spend every second of the weekend with her, leaving us with NO time for us. Plus, my parents are her "daycare" during the week, so who do I get to babysit on the weekends??

I'll have to browse your comments & see if you got any good advice I can use for myself! ;)

http://ntycnboricua.blogspot.com