Making Time for Mom & Dad

by Jennifer Donovan

Jennifer Donovan, 5 Minutes for Books Editor, shares her thoughts on making time as a married couple after having children. This is the first post in a series inspired and sponsored by the new memoir from New York Times bestselling, author Melanie Shankle, “The Antelope in the Living Room“.

I got married fairly young, right out of college. For a variety of reasons, we waited five years before we got pregnant, so we were used to being two before we became three. Because of that, we had plenty of opportunities to go out with friends or take trips together or select restaurants that didn’t have kids’ menus.

Making time for mom and dad

Having only one child for another five years made it easy to make time for us. I know that some people struggle with those baby years, but for us, it was actually fairly easy handling one baby at a time. In fact, babies go to bed. Babies don’t fail tests or lie or argue. Babies didn’t really complicate things for us.

But now we have a teen halfway through high school and a tween who will be in middle school in a year and a half. For me, the challenges of adolescence made it much harder to make time for mom and dad. Meeting the challenge of two sets of activities requires a “divide and conquer” philosophy. The added stress of the unique issues of tweens and teens can create more stress in the home and even between parents.

Here are a few ideas that have helped us make time for Mom and Dad:

  1. Bedtimes
    Our kids have always had consistent bedtimes. From infancy up to about 3rd or 4th grade, the kids were in bed by 8:00 p.m. My 9 1/2 year old is still in bed by that time most nights, though it’s stretched to 8:30 at times. Even my high schooler is up in her room by 8:45 or so. This leaves time for adult interaction without distractions.
  2. Dates
    We never instituted the weekly date night as recommended, but we did make sure that date nights happened on occasion, at least every few months. One way we kept costs down was by using younger babysitters and not overpaying them (I’m amazed at what people pay my daughter to babysit). If they don’t think it’s enough, someone else will.
  3. Special outings and trips 
    One way we make time together special is by scheduling special overnight dates and trips. When my husband worked in New York City, I would find special hotel rates, and we’d make our date an overnighter by finding a friend to keep the kids or employing a college-aged sitter. We also try to take multi-night trips away at least once a year, and more frequently when we can.

Taking these steps not only shows your spouse that your marriage is important, but it shows your kids too. It’s important for your kids to know. Having parents who make time for themselves is important. It won’t scar them. It helps remind them they are children and that mom and dad have lives outside of them.

About the Book: Antelope in the Living Room

New York Times bestselling author Melanie Shankle comes through again with her hilarious memoir of married life. Read The Antelope in the Living Room!


Melanie reminds you of the joy that comes when couples learn to laugh together. Welcome to the real story of two people sharing one life.

Order a copy of Melanie’s book today.
Disclosure: This is the first post in a series inspired and sponsored by the new memoir from New York Times bestselling, author Melanie Shankle, “The Antelope in the Living Room“.

Written by Jennifer Donovan, 5 Minutes for Books Editor.

Email Author    |    Website About Jennifer Donovan

Jennifer Donovan has been a part of the 5 Minutes for Mom team since 2007. She writes product reviews, covers events, and manages the 5 Minutes for Books weekly column and website. She lives in Houston and blogs at Snapshot about life with her family.

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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Tanya February 4, 2014 at 3:36 pm

Great tips, Its really important to give the one we love time too. We always get my husbands coworkers daughters to babysit and they don’t charge a ton so we can go out more frequently than if paying a ton on a babysitter. Overnights would be fun. I will need to find a reliable sitter for that one :)


2 Jennifer Donovan February 12, 2014 at 10:07 pm

That sort of fell into our lap — the overnight thing — but it was great, especially since we didn’t have family nearby. We find that really helped us connect.


3 marya February 4, 2014 at 4:46 pm

Good reminder that we have to take time to nurture our marriages. The kids will leave sooner or later and it will be sad if we have become distant from our spouses.


4 Lisa-The Domestic Life Stylist February 5, 2014 at 10:21 am

Nice to hear that perspective from someone with teens and tween. We too choose to delay having kids until much later (8 years married before kids). Consistent bedtimes rule!


5 Jennifer Donovan February 12, 2014 at 10:06 pm

Amen to that!


6 Bonnie Way February 6, 2014 at 4:58 pm

These are great tips. We had kids right away (honeymoon baby and then two more after that!), but I certainly really appreciate bedtimes. Our girls all go to bed around 7 or 8 and then we have us time. Dates are important, too, I think, though I find it harder to relax and forget about the kids at home (they’re under six right now) than my hubby does. :) Thanks for sharing!


7 Jennifer Donovan February 12, 2014 at 10:05 pm

You are busy! I’m glad you’re making time.


8 Prairie Wife February 7, 2014 at 11:22 am

I agree that a date night every week isn’t realistic but my husband and I make sure we go on one a month. It usually ends up being the 30th but it gets done! A consistent bedtime too is really important. We know that after 8 it’s finally our time to relax and be together!


9 Jennifer Donovan February 12, 2014 at 10:05 pm

That’s great that you make time.


10 Krystal February 7, 2014 at 11:33 am

I’m glad I’m not the only one who doesn’t do weekly date nights. With three young kids at home, it’s too expensive. But we do put kids to bed early so we can have some evening time for ourselves. Great tips!


11 Jennifer Donovan February 12, 2014 at 10:05 pm

Thanks! Whether it’s a real date or just time at home, I think it’s the effort that’s important.


12 vickie couturier February 7, 2014 at 4:49 pm

this is so true,,take some time for you,,,you need it not to burn out


13 Barbara Platt February 7, 2014 at 6:40 pm

We get alone time now that we have raised our kids. Now we find ourselves wanting to spend time with our grandkids.


14 Kathy stevenson February 8, 2014 at 10:01 am

We always make sure we go on a date every month.


15 LindaStewart February 11, 2014 at 10:47 am

We never took time when the girls were growing up for Mom & Dad time. That’s part of the reason our marriage failed. Now that I am raising a second family, namely my grandchildren, I have to stop and make myself take “ME” time. Otherwise I would go absolutely insane.


16 Jennifer Donovan February 12, 2014 at 10:07 pm

I’m glad that you’ve found balance.


17 vickie couturier February 12, 2014 at 4:24 pm

good information,,since my kids are now grown an out on their own an the grandkids are coming over a lot,its still special to us to have our alone time together


18 Jennifer Donovan February 12, 2014 at 10:07 pm

My dad is the same way! He’s great to spend time with the grandkids, but has a great life of his own, too.


19 ASHLEY COSSETTE February 16, 2014 at 9:48 pm

These are some great suggestions. Thanks! With a 3 year old and a 1 yr old we constantly struggle balancing life and being able to find time for ourselves!


20 Patty wright February 19, 2014 at 7:52 am

Hard to make time when your adult son lives with you and he is autistic. He’s home with us 24/7. No programs. Or workshops around our small town.


21 Bobbie Smith February 20, 2014 at 8:56 pm

I think your idea’s on how to still make time for each other is absolutely great. I got married my senior year of high school, still just a kid, and had no understanding about how to make anything work. Thank you for this awesome advice


22 chelzeamonique85 February 22, 2014 at 2:50 am

WIN! thats what i really want for myself and my girls anddddd my boys


23 Georgia Beckman February 24, 2014 at 8:44 am

These are great ideas & realistic.


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