The past two months have been filled with lots of research about curriculum, teaching styles, organizational tricks, and plenty of other good homeschooling topics but the one thing I don't read much about is how to keep your marriage strong and healthy when the kiddos are around 24/7/365. I've read a lot about how families are doing things together, how to include the kids in the household decisions, how to have family devotions, etc. etc. But my question is more like, "How do I find enough time without the kids around to make sure my marriage remains a top priority?"
Being married to a pilot allows us some free time that most families might not otherwise get to enjoy. Instead of working a typical 9 to 5 day, 5 days a week, my husband works a different kind of schedule with often times several days off in a row. This is great for homeschooling since he is our kids primary math and science teacher, but what about the all the times we could be doing things alone together if only the kids were in school? Or maybe a better way to say it is, "Since the kids are at home all of the time, how do we get to be alone in the house some of the time?" We've thought of shipping them off to co-op classes, but we haven't found any that meets at the right times for all three kids. We do have them in sports, but again the times do not line up. One major reason we homeschool is to have them home, yet being home ALL the time does make us feel like we are always "on duty". Don't get me wrong, we love our kids and want them around, we just also want to make sure we remember that we are a couple first and need our private time to nurture our relationship.
So far we've come up with two things that help. The first is that we put a small table and chairs in our bedroom so we can can enjoy meals together - door locked and shades closed. This allows us a little uninterrupted private time to talk over issues and reconnect. And might I mention, it's *free*. The second is to take little mini-vacations without the kids. Of course it helps that we have wonderful grandparents who are able to watch the kids and free airfare to take us a little farther than the next city. Last week we were able to get away to Boston for three days where a family friend treated us to a boat ride to check on lobster traps. It was a great experience and fun way to spend time together as a couple. If I had to come up with a third, it would be to pray together. I have to admit this is something we either do alone or with the whole family. As we begin our new homeschool year, I think we need to add this to the list too.
I'd really like to know how other homeschooling families balance the reality of "kids around all the time" with "we need to be alone sometimes". I recognize that homeschooling requires some sacrifices and along with it comes great blessings. I know from past experience that tipping the balance too much one way or the other doesn't produce great results. I'm hoping that this year we will not neglect the value of "couples time" and this in turn will benefit the kids by providing them with happy, stable, and loving parents.