Three years ago, when I was in the midst of trying to take care of three babies, I felt completely disconnected from my husband. Brad left the house between 5:30 and 6 every morning and wouldn’t return home until 6 at night. Upon his arrival, he was expected (and willingly obliged) to help me get everybody fed, bathed and ready for bed. After all the work was done, we would collapse on the couch and stare at the TV. We would always comment how there was really “nothing” to watch. But we would sit there for an hour or two in a trance watching nothing!
As those days turned to weeks then months, I started seeing us as two trains chugging side by side down parallel tracks. This wasn’t acceptable to me, because I saw those months turning into years, then decades. Then, one day the kids are gone and Brad and I look at one another and say, “Who are you?”. Maybe I was extrapolating too far, but something had to change.
That night, instead of turning on the TV, I shared my fears with my husband. He definitely agreed that we could both take more intiative in keeping our relationship a priority. As a first step, we decided that one night during the work week we would turn off the TV and computers and just catch up with one another. This concept worked like a charm and after a few months, I started feeling like we were back to our old selves.
Sounds like a beautiful story, I know; but over time we seemed to revert back to our old routine. Brad and I are finally finding it easier to make it through the day. We are past the stage of kids choking on marbles and dirty diapers galore. I was able to find the time to shower each day and write my blog: simple accomplishments that seemed insurmontable at one point in my life. Life got easier and I was ready to have more time to myself. So, I started letting my boys zone out with their electronic devices at the end of every day. I picked up my computer to see how things were going with my business and suddenly we had a situation where nobody was talking and nobody was sharing. Just the sound of buttons and keys. It is hard to be this honest, because I never envisioned my family looking like this.
When I came to the realization that we had all fallen into this routine of working our tails off all day (school, homework, sports, practices, carpools, cooking, cleaning…..the list goes on) only to come home and tune one another out I started extrapolating into the future again. I saw three boys who were closed off from their parents. Ignoring our questions and texting at the dinner table.
To solve the problem I went back to the old “one day” a week of no outside media. I think it is important for my boys to know that they are more important than my business and anything that is on TV. We have even expanded our “no video” distractions to 5 days a week. The boys are only aloud to play on the weekends. A plan that makes communicating so much easier- I don’t have to fight with “Angry Birds” to get their attention. We have had lots of fun on our nights without distractions including playing games, family reading time and even a water fight posted above. One day of the week, from the time my kids get home from school until my husband and I snuggle into bed, we are completely focused on one another without any distractions. I hope to keep this tradition going until my boys are grown because I believe that keeping the family close with lots of communication is the surest way to raise healthy happy children.