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Hey Super-Busy Moms and Dads,
Did you ever think life was going to be this crazy?
Can you remember the last time you were able to connect with your spouse?
Gone are the days of leisurely sleeping in on the weekends, going out to dinner whenever you want, watching movies until all hours of the night, or relaxing on the porch after work with a beer. When you got married, I bet you never thought one day your life would be so jam-packed, so slammed from morning until midnight, that you’d barely get a chance to exchange five words with your other half before it was time to fall into bed, get up, and do it all over again.
Welcome to parenting.
With four kids, two dogs, and a partridge in a pear tree, Scott and I have very limited time to hang out together on a typical day without a little person or fur baby nearby and close to ZERO opportunities to go out by ourselves as a couple –and life will only get busier as we use our embryos and bring home more babies. Our parents help when they can but, of course, they have their own lives and responsibilities to worry about. And although we have a sitter in the neighborhood, it’s not like we can have a standing Saturday night date – it’s a small fortune to pay for babysitting for four. Heck, sometimes dinner is the cheap part.
But forget about date night. Honestly, we’re in the parenting trenches so having a few evenings to ourselves is part of our bucket list for the year. It happens so infrequently that we can’t rely on those rare occasions to find a way to connect with each other. Somehow, we have to create ways to connect at home, on a daily basis, with minimal time, without the children, at little to no cost. I’m talking about finding a little marriage oasis in the grind of daily life.
So, what do you do day in and day out to connect with your spouse when you’re worn out, stretched thin, pressed for time, and you have little people running all over the place?
You redefine what counts as connection.
Friends, its hard to find time for each other when you have a lot of kids. You have to get creative and be intentional. You have to make the most of your time.
Now, let’s be real for a minute. Sometimes vegging on the couch is all you want to do at the end of the day. Us too. It’s one of our favorite pastimes. But while sitting down and watching TV together at night is certainly not a bad thing, it can be a waste of your time together because you’re not really connecting. A few nights here and there are just fine, but when it turns into every night, and you feel your connection is waning, then it’s time to change it up.
So, if I’m reading your mail and any of this sounds like you, you’re in good company. It’s tough. But be encouraged – there are definitely ways to connect with limited time, energy, and resources – you just have to think outside the box. Read on and get your creative juices flowing as we share ten simple, cheap (or free) ways to connect with your spouse when you have a lot of kids. All of these activities can be enjoyed in thirty minutes or less while your little people snooze away in bed. In fact, several can be broken up over many nights, giving you plenty of opportunity to fill your connection calendar.
1) Break out the board/card games.
This may seem obvious at first glance, but how often do you actually do this? Take a look at the games your kids have – chances are there are several that are just as fun for you as they are for your children. We’ve had a good time playing Quirkle, Tenzi, Qbitz, Monopoly, Simon, UNO, etc, etc. If your kids are very young and you don’t have many games on hand that can also be enjoyed by adults, invest a little in your relationship and purchase a few.
There are tons on the market to choose from, ranging from the old standbys from when you were a kid to the new and innovative that just came out this year. The competition is fun and flirty and is guaranteed to spark a connection.
2) Switch out pictures in your frames.
It’s really easy to have the same pictures in your frames for years on end. Of course, you’ll have your favorites that you don’t want to change (like weddings, newborn photos, etc). But what about the others? Could they use some updating? Are your kids 10 years old but they’re 2 in your pictures? Have more kiddos been added to your family? Are there new memories you want to highlight?
Go around your house and see which photos could use some refreshing and updating. As you take out the old photos, reminisce about the past, relive the special moments, and talk about your favorite memories. Keep these treasures, but store them away in a special box. As you put in the new photos, discuss your hopes, aspirations, and dreams for the future. This is a wonderful way to connect with your spouse. Spend a few nights beforehand scrolling through the pictures on your phone or desktop together to find your favorites to print.
3) Complete a photo puzzle together.
While we’re on the topic, did you know you can turn your favorite photos into puzzles? There are a host of online businesses that allow you to upload a picture, select the size you would like (which typically match standard frame sizes), and turn your memories into a personal, fun, and challenging activity. Select a few of your favorite photos that you would love to display and have them converted into puzzle form. Then, spend time putting them together over the course of a week or two.
Not only is this a great way to connect with your spouse, but when you’re finished, you will have a completed piece of artwork for your wall that has interest, texture, and most importantly, special meaning to you and your family. Simply cover the completed puzzle with Modge-Podge to hold it together, let dry, insert into a classic, yet inexpensive frame (like from IKEA), and hang.
4) Tackle a mindless house project.
We all have plenty of these, don’t we? These projects are ones where you won’t be distracted by anything that could possibly vie for your attention. They give you the opportunity and space to talk, daydream, listen to your favorite music, etc all while getting some much needed work done. Think painting a wall or trim, going through your kid’s clothes, identifying items to sell online, sifting through old toys, cleaning out the fridge, etc.
Not only do you have some time to talk about your day or what’s pressing on your mind, you kill two birds with one stone. You spend time together working towards a common goal, which strengthens your bond by promoting team building, and you get a small project completed, which translates into more free time for you. What’s more, you will feel like a small weight has been lifted off of you as you cross off an item on your to-do list. Your relationship will reap the benefits from the feelings of empowerment and accomplishment.
5) Play catch or tag.
Now that spring is upon us, and we have a little extra light at night, why not go outside after the kids are in bed and take advantage of the soft, peaceful atmosphere? Grab a football, or a baseball and gloves, take the baby monitor, hit the backyard, and connect with your spouse over a relaxing game of catch while the sun sets. Likewise, you can also take part in a playful game of tag. Both are fun, lighthearted ways to connect and enjoy each other’s company while getting a little fresh air.
6) Clean out your closet.
Although this is similar to tackling a mindless house project, there is something more personal about cleaning out your closet together. You’re bound to dig up old photos, find old clothes you wore when you were dating, come across old birthday cards, or discover little trinkets that bring back fond memories. It’s a wonderful way to reminisce, re-connect, and get organized all at the same time.
7) Do a 10 minute devotional together.
Perhaps you’d like to connect with your spouse on an emotional and spiritual level? Why not take ten minutes to cultivate your faith and your relationship at the same time by doing a devotional together? There are plenty of choices out there – simply search Amazon for “couples devotional” and pick your favorite! This is a fantastic way to connect, feed your soul, and infuse some balance and peace into your day. If you’re comfortable, pray together before and after your session, specifically asking the Lord to rejuvenate your marriage and provide opportunities for you to grow as a couple.
Discuss the entry together and then briefly journal any thoughts that come to you or Scripture verses that speak to you. Record the date. Continue this practice on a daily or weekly basis. Refer back to your notes often and document where you’ve seen God answer a prayer in your marriage or anywhere in your lives.
8) Do a 20 minute workout DVD together.
This activity can be completed in the early morning or in the evening depending on your schedules and preferences. It’s a great way to connect with your spouse as you encourage and inspire each other to be your best selves. High five, fist bump, and spur each other on toward your physical goals. Our personal favorites are anything by Jillian Michaels because she gets the job done! However, if you only have night time to do this and you don’t want to break a sweat right before bed, a short, relaxing yoga DVD is another great option.
9) Plan a dessert tasting.
Who says you have to go out to enjoy some delectable treats? Take some time and plan a dessert and wine (or beer) tasting right in your own home. Pick up some mini desserts from your local bakery, an inexpensive bottle of wine or pack of beer, turn on some nice music, light a candle, and spend part of your evening indulging in chocolate or cheesecake heaven.
If dessert isn’t your thing, try a cheese plate with fruit and crackers. Make sure to try something new that you’ve never had before. Spend time enjoying each other and the special, intimate atmosphere you’ve created.
10) Plan your next family outing.
This is lots of fun for you as a couple and it gives you and your whole family something to look forward to. Take a few evenings, snuggle up together, and look online for deals and/or things you haven’t done before in your hometown. Find something new, within your budget, and put it on the calendar. On another night, expand your search to include cities or towns that are a short distance away and would be great to visit on a day trip. Again, find something you haven’t done, keeping your budget in mind, and plan it. You’ll connect with your spouse and enjoy exploring the possibilities together as you create excitement and anticipation for your next family get away.
Friends, I hope we’ve given you some food for thought and you’ll start looking around your own home for simple, creative ways to connect with your spouse and spend time together. Brainstorm ideas and think outside the box. The possibilities are endless. And if all else fails and nothing brilliant comes to mind, you can always turn it in early and spend some time between the sheets. It may not be creative, but it IS effective!!
With Love & In Christ,
P.S. If you need support or guidance as you consider your choices with your embryos, please join our private FB community, Leftover Frozen Embryos Support Group. Here, we talk in real time with other parents about the difficulties of living life with leftover frozen embryos and the options we have moving forward. You can also join our email list to receive support, encouragement, and updates on new content and our personal journey.