Life in our family is often so much like the movie Groundhog’s Day. We get up, dress the kids, feed them, do school, clean, shop, cook, clean again, go to bed, then wake up and do it all over the next day. The repetition of the kids’ needs and the seemingly endless projects and activities will, if we allow it, take over our schedule. With so many things we feel like we “have to do,” managing our time takes a huge amount of intentionality. We are the Hinkles, Adam and Dana Sue, founders of Creative QT and parents of five. We’re trying our best to be parents and still have the time and bandwidth to take care of ourselves and our marriage.
As you may imagine, when you have five young kids, it’s easy to get stuck in the role of a servant. There’s little time for parents to be a couple, and for Mom and Dad to simply be normal humans. Contrary to what some may think, it’s important for us parents to be a little bit selfish occasionally, to take time to reflect, regroup, and, yes, be an individual.
Our family has come up with a few opportunities for Mom and Dad to have some well-deserved time to themselves. Trust us, this is a worthwhile investment to help keep all family members happy and sane!
1. Date Night Out (For One)
We take turns, one night per week, where one person is free to do whatever they want. This leaves the unlucky parent at home, attempting to control the kids for the evening. The person out can do whatever they want: go out with friends, practice a hobby, watch a movie. No judgement—well, a little judgment. Seriously, you used your free night out to go watch a movie?
Remember the hobbies you had before you had kids? Many of our current friends don’t realize it, but Adam was a carpenter by trade for years and given the chance, would spend hours in the wood shop. Dana Sue has literally about four vertical feet of scrapbooks from the past but is currently backlogged about four years in scrapbooking. We have so much we love to do. Sometimes the issue isn’t having the time, but it’s about not having the permission to check out and spend that time away.
Committing to this time oﬀers a small window of freedom where we can dive into the things we love to do—things for which we can never seem to justify ignoring the kids or responsibilities. It helps to keep the spark that is you alive and kicking.
2. Saturday Morning Sleep In
All week long our kids will sleep until 10AM and then fight us when we try to get them out of bed for school. Why is it that on Saturday morning they pop out of bed at 6:30AM as chipper as Poppy from Trolls? We have a rule. Every Saturday morning, the kids will wake up to LEGOs in their room (and a LEGO table made with Creative QT Peel ’n Stick Baseplates—shameless plug). They are expected to play quietly until Mom and Dad get out of bed. If they wake us up unnecessarily, no cartoons that morning.
It may seem a bit draconian to some parents, but with church on Sunday, it’s the only possible chance we have to get some sleep. Besides, I assure you that everyone in the house will have a better morning if Mom and Dad are well rested.
It’s important for parents to be a little bit selfish occasionally, taking time to reflect, regroup, and, yes, be an individual.
3. Date Night In (For Two)
As it turns out, it’s nearly impossible to find a babysitter for five kids (at least for what we are willing to pay). Because of this, we don’t get out half as much as we would like to. What we have come up with is our “date night in.” We put our kids to bed early or set them up to watch a movie upstairs, and we settle for a romantic night in together (as romantic as you can get with the kids in the next room).
We have done everything from wine and painting, to a blind chocolate tasting, to grabbing the basketball and playing a one on one game of PIG. The general idea is to try to have interesting experiences that encourage us to explore and grow as a couple but to do so from the comforts of our own home.
Whatever you do, we want to encourage you to take time for yourself and for your marriage. It’s easy, as parents, to carry the weight of the world on our shoulders and feel like we have to sacrifice ourselves completely for our kids every day.
4. Recharge While Your Kids Sleep
You’ve heard the saying, often given to new parents, “Sleep while your baby sleeps.” The same can be applied to your kids, no matter their age.
I know it sounds counterintuitive, but sometimes, waking up early is the only way parents can get any recharging “me time.”
Dana Sue is up early most weekdays to head to her cross-training gym, which is one of her main social outlets during the week, and Adam gets up to tackle most of his outdoor projects before breakfast (a little introvert).
We find this is also the best time to get time in the Bible or pray without interruption. Mornings often work better than evenings since our kids are more likely to keep sleeping than to get out of bed early and start asking us for things.
Figure Out What Works For You
Take our tips or leave them, but we want to draw your attention to the time you may not know you have to recharge. Get up, get some coﬀee, and claim that time. We dare you to try it!
The bottom line is, it’s okay to be a little selfish (just a little) and take time for yourself to develop your God-given talents, date your spouse, or just get a little sleep. You’re not a monster parent for wanting this; you’re just human and there is so much more to you than just being a parent. This is permission from the Hinkle family for you to take that time.
It is important for you and your kids to recharge and still follow your personal passions. That way, when you are with your kids, it can be real quality time as Mom and Dad will be fresh and energized.
Want more ideas on how to have better quality time with your family?
Check out Creative QT. They’ve created practical yet inspired tools to help families have more meaningful moments together.
Through learning, storage, and organization-based kids toys, they help you spend less time managing stuff and more time making memories, engaging budding imaginations, and encouraging active independent play and a growing sense of responsibility. They help you control the chaos—and even look past it to embrace its creators.
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