With all the hoopla surrounding Halloween, it’s important to take a step back and make sure we are also giving attention to the grown-up aspects of our lives. If you happen to love costumes and haunted houses, at least aim for a minimum of one kid-free event. My plan is to hang with my friends and hand out candy as a group. This way we get a chance to catch up and there is much entertainment to be found in the assorted characters that parade through our neighborhood. Life is always about finding the right balance. While it can be joyful seeing holidays and the world through your children’s eyes, we must not forget we have eyes and perspective that should be honored as well.
A couple weeks back, in a discussion before my fitness class started, the topic of keeping marriage and relationships a priority outside of parenting arose. Several women stressed that you must keep working at those relationships throughout the child-rearing stage of life so when you arrive at an empty nest, it isn’t so overwhelming. In fact, it can be kind of amazing having your weekends back and schedules open up for travel and adventure. I shared that my husband and I were finally going to have a long overdue date night. They all agreed this was good step but the key was to go on the date and not discuss my children. I listened to this advice, but was unsure if I was going to be able to implement it.
First of all, I am a stay-at-home parent, what my kids do is currently a big part of my life. Secondly, life happens so fast sometimes that my husband and I can barely catch our breath. If I have a stretch of uninterrupted time with him, I am bound to discuss the inevitable logistical aspects of our boys’ lives. Upcoming tryouts, practices, academic projects and if we are lucky, a possible family trip, are all topics that I want to talk about with my husband. I felt certain I was going to ‘fail’ at our date before we even stepped out the door.
As the date started, I asked my husband, how do we not talk about the boys for the entire evening? He had a great response and perspective. Right now our life is about raising our kids. It won’t always be like this, but that’s our reality. As they get older, if they are at all like him, and they move on to college or the next phase of life, we aren’t going to know a lot of what is going on with them. We are going to be lucky to get an occasional update from them so talking about them at length will no longer be an issue. We simply won’t have the information to do so. He said where we could run into an issue in our current life, is if we talked only about our children for the entire duration of the evening. Thankfully, we did not. We talked about baseball in great detail. After all that’s when the Cubs’ playoff dreams were still alive. We also talked about his work, my attempts to train our adorable rescue dog, our plans for the future and of course, my husband’s favorite topic besides how much he loves me, Ohio State football.
I say, keep on celebrating all the wonderful milestones and holidays for your kids, but keep part of your life a kid-free zone. Often it’s less about doing something perfectly as long as you are making the effort. So, show up on a date or a girls’ night out and talk endlessly about your kids if you feel the need. That’s who you are right now. Above all else, that matters more than anything.
Have a happy and safe Halloween!
Written by Diana DeVaul, MSW and Parent