A few months ago, my husband and I started giving each other the night off from parenting and I’m telling you, it’s the best thing ever. One night each week with no guilt, the freedom to relax, and the choice to do what we want. Want to know how it works? Read on…
“How about we each start getting the night off?” I proposed to my husband last fall. I had read about this idea somewhere on the internet and was intrigued. With two boys, age two and four, we were both feeling drained. There were events that I wanted to go to that I felt guilty agreeing to. And I knew that there were nights when he wished he could just mentally check out, and I didn’t blame him! I was feeling the same way.
We both needed a break from our chaotic day-to-day and this felt like this the answer.
So here’s how we do it. Every week, we each get to pick a night where we can do whatever we want – free from dinner duty, bath time, game-playing, kid-movie-watching, tantrums, and bedtime routines. It helps if we take a look at the calendar on Sunday nights and each pick a night then. but it doesn’t always happen that way. Some weeks this means I’m going out on the town with friends, going to a social event, heading to the beach for a long walk, or doing more mundane things like grocery shopping by myself (which is actually pretty heavenly!), or just checking out and heading into our bedroom early and locking the door. For my husband, he often chooses to sit at the bar at our local BBQ place and have dinner in peace or watch a movie he wants to watch with no interruptions. BUT – there are also times when we each use our night off to work late or go to Parent Committee meetings (which are actually SUPER fun) or volunteer with the Red Cross (which my amazing husband does). So it’s not always something wild, or out of the ordinary, but the point is, it’s, however, you want to spend your night.
Here are my tips for making this work:
- Don’t judge the other person on how they want to spend their night. As long as they aren’t spending a ton of money or aren’t doing something awful, each person gets to choose how they spend their night without criticism.
- Want some of the weekend off? Ok! If you want this to work with your family, my biggest tip is to be understanding. If my husband wants to go fishing during the day on a Saturday, okay! No big deal. Honestly, if it makes him happy, I’m happy. But that also means that maybe I’ll get some weekend time off too. I think it’s totally fair to go 1 for 1. If your husband is going to go golfing for six hours on a Saturday, then I think you should be able to do something for half a day too. May I suggest an extended brunch on Sunday with your best girlfriends?
- Be flexible! The other night while we were all driving home from t-ball, my husband said: “Do you mind if I take my night off tonight?” NOPE. Sure don’t. Once again, happy husband, happy wife. It didn’t bother me that we didn’t talk about that “this was going to be his night” ahead of time. He was feeling like he needed some time off, and I’m happy to give it to him.
- Trust your partner! They are absolutely capable of handling the bedtime routine or feeding the kids dinner. It might not be done the exact way that you would do it, but it is so good for our kids to spend time with their dad alone, and vice versa!
In full disclosure, my husband and I both work from home. We spend a lot of time together so taking the night off from each other (and the kids) feels like NBD. I’ve mentioned this idea to a few friends who have husbands that travel for work or work late hours and they said that their husbands would probably say that they would rather spend their night off with their kids. Well…that might be true, but I think this idea is still worth suggesting to them. If they are working long hours or are out of town a lot, they might be longing for a night to do nothing. OR – if YOU work full time – you totally deserve a night off too mama!
I cannot tell you how amazing it felt the other night when I came home from grocery shopping by myself on my night off and my husband said, “So are you going to go in our bedroom and relax then?” Hearing someone else give me permission to chill out (which I rarely give myself) felt so so good. I know this exact model might not work for everyone, but I hope that this opens up a discussion within your family to figure out how to give each other a break. We ALL need it.