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Sharing Saturday nights. Or not.

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

Kids' later bedtimes and couple time

Even though my husband and I aren't great about getting sitters and going out on formal "dates," for years we did manage to get a fair bit of couple time in. Notice the past tense there.

Kids' later bedtimes and couple time
It used to be that all the kids were in bed about 8:00PM on weeknights and 8:30PM – 9:00PM at the latest – on the weekends. On week nights, the post bedtime hour or two was devoted to household tasks or work tasks or even exercise. But on weekend nights, the hours after the kids were in bed were together time for my husband and myself. We'd often rent a move, open some wine and snuggle up on the couch. It was quiet, nice, and the right price.

As the kids get older, this is happening less and less. Even a year ago we'd be able to have these cozy nights in. As Alfs gets older, and particularly starting this school year, he stays up to 10:00PM on weekend nights. By the time he is in bed, it's just too late to start a movie; honestly, we can't stay awake late enough! I miss those quiet hours with my husband. I miss our Saturday nights!

Going out more may not be the answer

I suppose the obvious answer to this situation is to get real, live babysitters more often and physically leave the house (which we will do, too), or to make it family movie night and watch something appropriate for all of us. Afterall, Woody and Sunshine will only get older, too, and also start having later bedtimes.

Of course, we probably should get out of the house a little more anyway, but it's not the whole solution, and I don't know for certain what the rest of it is. I do know my husband and I need at least a little sense of separation within the walls of our house.

Closing a door – or leaving it only slightly ajar

Aside from taking advantage of the nights Alfs is sleeping over at a friend's house, and as much as I like that we are a fairly open family without many closed doors or off-limits spaces, I think maybe closing the door to our room more often might be part of the answer. Maybe on these nights when Alfs is still up, we can leave him to watch a movie downstairs while we retreat to our room. Sure, we'll still need to remind him that it is time for bed, but at least it's a little bit away and mostly alone. Closed doors aren't all bad.

Even though finding a way to be alone in our own house will be an issue for some time, I know it won't last forever. Eventually the kids will have their own social lives and be out most weekends. Then, probably, we'll me missing them or waiting up for them, and wishing we could share Saturday evenings at home with them.

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