My uncle once told us that having a lot of kids close together is hard on a marriage, and boy was he right! Most of the time Jacob and I are in survival mode, in our own heads trying our best to accomplish the roles we’ve chosen. Unless we are intentional, we could easily go through the days talking only about what needs to be said, and feeling hurt because of what was or was not said or done. We understand how people get to a place where divorce is the answer, but we never want to be in that place. One thing we do to strengthen our relationship is to have weekly dates.
How in the world is that possible with 10 kids!? The answer that works for us most of the time is a home date. One night a week, our children have cereal for dinner. It’s easy to “make” and clean up and it’s a crowd favorite. Then depending on the moods of the kids, the night can go two ways. The first being an early bedtime for the kids. We’ll clean up then while Jacob reads to the kids, I’ll go out and grab some dinner for us. Once I come home and the kids are in bed we’ll eat our dinner, talk, and watch a show or two.
The second option for a home date night happens if the kids are quick at cleaning up and are not overly emotional. After clean up the kids get to watch a movie while Jacob and I eat our dinner and have some alone time before putting them to bed. As a new added bonus for us, Steven will occasionally put the boys to bed in preparation to becoming our weekly babysitter. He is so excited for this opportunity, but not as excited as we are! We figure in the next year or so he will be able to be our official babysitter!
About once a month, or when life is particularly stressful and we need time out of the house together, we’ll get a babysitter and go on a proper date! Usually to grab something to eat then go to a few thrift stores or grocery shop at Walmart, because we love the romantic life. When this happens we get one babysitter. Yes I said it, one babysitter. We won’t go out until about 7 after the youngest kids are in their cribs on their way to sleep. A young woman from our neighborhood, usually 12 or 13, will come over, play with the kids for about an hour then put them to bed. We have a good bedtime routine I wrote about here, so even though there’s 8 small boys they go to bed fairly easily. Then the babysitter can relax until we come home about an hour or two later. All of the babysitters we’ve used are great and never seem to have a problem with our kids, but love to brag about what they’re doing that night!
It usually doesn’t matter what we do each week, but it’s important to us that we make time to spend quality time together. As much as we love our children we know the best thing we can give them is a good example of a healthy loving relationship.