For most families, life is crazy. If you have children from preschool through high school, you're inundated with homework, projects, sports, lessons and activities. Even if you don't have school-age children, you know that many activities – work, church, community and volunteer – swing into high gear in the fall.
Are you worried about losing the "couple" part of your life for the next 9 months? Here are 10 ways to connect with your husband and keep the "couple" part of your life strong when things get a little crazy:
1. Establish your marriage as the primary relationship in your family
Have you and your husband set your priorities for this school year? If you value your marriage and want to keep it strong in spite of a hectic schedule, set a priority to establish it as the center of your family life. You won't be taking anything away from your children; you'll be adding to their sense of security and helping them understand what it takes to create a lasting marriage.
2. Control your family's schedule, rather than letting it control you
This doesn't mean your children shouldn't do activities, but it does mean you and your husband should talk and decide which activities are reasonable in terms of your family's time, energy and finances.
3. Make time to talk every day
When things get busy, it's easy to go for days without talking about anything other than schedules, carpools, pick-up times and errands. Be intentional about taking at least 15-20 minutes every day to really talk with your husband about what's going on in both of your lives. You can do it in the morning, right after work, before bed – whatever works for the two of you. My husband and I drink coffee in bed for about 20 minutes every morning and talk while we're waking up and preparing to face the day.
4. Go to bed at the same time, every night if possible but at least several times a week.
Going to bed together allows you to talk and unwind together and paves the way for sex and intimacy. Speaking of which…
5. Make love regularly
Yes, it takes time, and you're often tired. But it's critical if you want to stay connected as a couple. And it doesn't always have to take a lot of time – while a long romantic interlude is great, sometimes a quick romp provides all the connection you need!
6. Set one evening a week as "parents' night."
Pick one evening each week and let the kids know you and your husband won't be available for extracurricular activities, homework help, school project disasters, or anything else (other than true emergencies) that evening. Put young children to bed as early as reasonable, and let older children work quietly on homework or other activities. Then spend some time relaxing with your husband. Ideally, this should be a set evening every week – you want your kids to learn to say, "No, I can't __ tonight. It's 'parents' night.'" But realistically, it may need to change as work and school schedules change.
7. Plan at least one face-to-face activity (which many women prefer) and one side-by-side activity (which many men prefer) every week.
So, for example, you might enjoy a cup of coffee and some conversation at the kitchen table on Saturday morning, then paint a room together on Saturday afternoon.
8. Do some everyday tasks or errands together
Once children come along, couples often "divide and conquer" the mundane tasks of everyday life. She gets groceries and runs by the post office, he drops off the dry cleaning and picks up a prescription. It's efficient, but boring. So once in a while, do some of those tasks together. If you have grandparents or a teenage neighbor who can watch the kids for a couple of hours, use them! And when your kids are old enough to stay home for a short time, let them! Run some errands together, then do something fun, like stopping by a coffee shop or frozen yogurt bar.
9. Exercise together
Walk, jog or bike together. Train together for a charity walk or race. Take a hike. Anything that gets you moving together, preferably outside.
10. Plan regular dates
At least once every two weeks, enjoy a date with your husband. It doesn't have to be the typical "dinner and a movie," just something that gets you out of the house and lets you have fun together. If you need some inspiration, check out these fun and healthy dates or ideas for adding some adventure to your marriage.
How do you and your husband stay connected as a couple when life gets crazy?
Editor's note: This article was originally published on Calm. Healthy. Sexy. It has been modified and republished here with permission.
Gaye Groover Christmus, MPH is a wife and mom to two almost-grown sons. In her “day job” she works as a writer and editor in a health field. Her passion, though, is encouraging married women to slow down, live with vitality and energy, and create joy and intimacy in their marriages. She believes that small steps can lead to big changes, and that women armed with knowledge and a plan can transform their hurried, hectic lives. Gaye blogs at CalmHealthySexy. She’d love to send you her ebook, 17 Ways to Live Calmer, Healthier and Sexier – Starting Today – as a gift when you subscribe to the blog.