It has strongly affected marriages in our ability to go out on dates and spend quality time together. With the kids home all the time and everything closed our dating life drastically reduced. The good news was that my husband was home more, so I got to see him. He also wasn’t traveling which I think improved our marriage. However, some marriages were negatively impacted by spouses being home more. They needed some time apart and they needed to make sure that they got space and alone time. We have to communicate what we need to our partners. They cannot read our minds.
Now that my children started attending school on Mondays and Tuesdays, Seth and I have started scheduling lunch dates again. I hope you can find time to date your spouse.
- How do you stay so positive?
My mother tells the story about my being born with a smile on my face and that I always smiled as a child. I saw how happy it made people when I smiled, and it reinforced it. I also noticed that smiling makes me happy and feel more positive.
I really try to consciously focus on what I am grateful for every day. I work on training my brain every day. We talk about training our muscles, but we don’t talk about training our brain in the same way. When I am having a negative thought, I tend to easily be able to reframe it to something positive because I have been working on doing that for so many years. When we feel grateful and think about what we are thankful for it is hard to be negative.
- How are you juggling it all?
I make myself lists and I prioritize. What needs to get done today is the question I ask myself every day. I also have reduced my expectations of myself and know that it all doesn’t have to get done. It will still be there. I utilize my time wisely and I tend to do work in the car while I am waiting for my kids in the car to taxi them around. I also have a wonderful husband who helps me every day. I feel as though we are in it together and it makes me feel supported and stronger and able to get more accomplished.
- How do you deal with your kid’s mood swings?
First and foremost, I don’t take it personally. I know that mood swings are developmentally appropriate, and I expect them. I also make them aware of how they are coming across to me and that they may want to change how they talk to their wonderful mother.
Every child is different in what makes them feel better and be able to handle their stress. Ella tells me theater and singing helps her. Lillie tends to play with her toys or dance around the house. Max says gaming is his coping strategy. It is a good distraction for him, and it helps that he can talk to his friends while he is gaming. He also has a good way of looking at things. Max tells himself that everything will be okay. Teaching my children about self-talk has been huge this year. What are we telling ourselves and how can we change the tape in our brain to something that will make us feel better? I also talk to my children about my open-door policy and that they can come talk to me about anything. Their father tells them the same thing. Feeling supported and giving them outlets for their stress is key. Some kids need a sport. Playing outside is helpful to some children. Some kids need to play some music and sing and dance. Some kids play the piano to destress, ride their skateboard or escape into a great book. Think about your particular child and what they enjoy and what you think will help them. Give them suggestions and pay attention to what they tend to do by themselves. Ask if it helps them? If they say yes, then store it away in your toolbox of suggestions. If they say no, then help them come up with something that will be helpful to them.
- Parenting is the most important job that comes without a user manual. What is the first step to be a successful parent?
First, there are tons and tons of books on parenting. There are also podcasts you can listen to. I studied parenting for many years, so I know there are “manuals,” but I think it’s funny when people say this. The first step to be a successful parent is prioritizing it. Making time for your children. Making them feel loved and supported. Spending quality time with your kids. The perfect balance to parenting is giving them a lot of love while also giving them boundaries, clear expectations and discipline.
- Most of us get into a marriage emotionally without understanding it is a lifetime of partnership. How do you build a partnership of a lifetime?
I remember as a teenager working at a store and my manager was getting married. She told us that it was no big deal and that if it didn’t work out, she would just get divorced. I couldn’t believe that she said that to us. That is someone setting their marriage up to fail. First and foremost, when I got married, I went into my marriage for my lifetime (and hopefully more than that). I signed my marriage contract with the notion that this was a binding contract that I was happily signing. We are both committed to our marriage. My favorite line about marriage is that it’s two imperfect people who never give up on each other. Ask your partner what they need from you. Give them what they need and tell them what you need. Remember that little things every day add up to something big in your marriage. Same thing with parenting. All the little things that we do for our children every day add up to being a great parent. All the little things that we do for our marriage every day adds up to a wonderful marriage for a lifetime. Just like we have to work at our job every day we have to work at our marriage too. Anything worth it needs our focus and attention.
- How to lead a life without regrets as a
I think the greatest way to not have regrets is to think about it as a learning experience. Continue to learn and grow every day. If you think you have screwed something up, then do better the next day. Every day is a gift and gives you the opportunity to do better. It is not a regret or a mistake if you have learned something from it.
Thankfully Max (13) and Ella (11) are very self-sufficient. They get on all their zooms all day and they complete all their assignments. I can go into the school website and check and make sure that all of their assignments are turned in and my kids know that they can do the same thing to check up on themselves. I am home all day with them, so I do make sure they stay online all day. My 8 year old Lillie needs a ton of help. When she has zooms, she does it in the kitchen with me and I help her as needed. I have also learned that when she has work to do I have to put my other stuff aside and put on my teacher hat and get it done with her. My life has totally changed, and I have accepted the new schedule and new routine.
- How to have date nights when you don’t have someone to watch your kids? Due to covid concerns.
My friend has dates with her husband at sunrise before the children wake up. I also have friends who put their kids to bed early so that they can have a nice dinner and movie together at home. I also saw children on Facebook setting up date nights for their parents at their own dining room tables and making the food and everything which is such a cute idea.
My children are now in school two days a week so my husband and I can go on lunch dates together again. If your kids are doing remote and are home every day that is a different scenario. I encourage you to get creative. Do dates before they wake up or after they go to bed. Set them up with a movie in the family room and go have a romantic dinner together in the dining room. Find a trusted adult to babysit for you. Send your kids to grandma’s house or find a trusted babysitter to come over. There are teenagers who are also doing remote and having little exposure who could be a safe option if you are willing to explore that option.
First, life naturally gives me topics every week between my husband and my three children and what happens in our life every week. I also have people messaging me with topic requests which I always welcome as my goal is to helpful.
- What podcast have you started to listen to?
I love to listen to a good podcast while I am walking my dog or getting housework done. The Gottman institute for marital tips. Power your parenting, parenting great kids, Tony Robbins, The Stay Calm Mom and Raising Good Humans are some good ones for you to check out. I also like to unwind and not think and spend time with Bravo tv stars podcasts. I also listen to my Podcast Whinypaluza every Friday when it comes out and my fabulous husband Seth’s Podcast Sharkpreneur.
- How do you keep romance at a premium when you are a business owner family with a bunch of kids?
Put it on the calendar and schedule it. It’s easy to get lost in the demands of the kids and work and put your marriage on the back burner. We schedule work meetings we also need to schedule marital time. Remember that small things count as romance. Bring home roses for your sweetheart. Make your partner’s favorite dinner or favorite takeout and have dinner home alone together. What best fills your partner’s bucket? Make that happen! Send a sweet text message.
- As your kids get older and have more sass, how do you not get angry at them when they get all sassy about tiny insignificant things?
The biggest method of avoiding reactivity is not taking it personally. They are probably upset about something that has nothing to do with you or they are overtired. I also do get upset with them and let them know that I don’t appreciate how they are talking to me. I will ask them to start over or to go take a breather and come back when they can talk to me nicely.
- So, one mommy blogger to another, how are you keeping focused during these strange times? I’m all over the place at this time and my productivity is in the tank.
Deadlines have worked best for me. I know that I have to have a blog and vlog every Wednesday. It’s a weekly deadline. I know that I have to have a new podcast available for every Friday. It has been more challenging with my children home five days a week, but I am making it work. I will let them know that I have to work. I am working right now, and they aren’t bothering me. It’s 7:45 pm Monday night and my husband is home. He will do his best to take care of them and give me time to write. I will also climb in bed at night with my laptop and get some work done. I have been known to get work done in the car and I know that I have Monday and Tuesday days at home without children and I do my best to utilize those two days as best as I can. I know it’s a big adjustment, but I know you can do it. Give yourself a plan for the week with deadlines.
- My husband is busy in his retired life and I am still working. We rarely do things together because the things that he loves I have no interest in and vice versa. Any advice for how to keep going?
You are touching on the topic of recreational companionship. I hope that you can find something that you both can enjoy together. My husband and I love to take walks together. However, marriage is all about compromise. Sometimes we do things with our partners that we don’t enjoy doing just to be with them. Try to find common ground on something that you will both enjoy together. I would plan a couple days together doing things you both love to do. If you love bird watching, ask him to join you. If he loves golfing, go try it out with him. Find a new activity that you can do together.
- My kids are home from college due to Covid. They feel isolated and are desperate for social interaction yet are sick of zoom due to their classes are all there. They feel like they will never meet new people again. any advice?
While I was in college I worked at Applebee’s and met some amazing friends. Maybe getting a part time job would help them to meet people and feel a sense of community. I know my son is currently allowed to have soccer and football practices. They aren’t playing games but at least he is with people. Is there a college sport they could join? Is there a gym that they can safely join to go do a workout class and hopefully meet new people? I know that gyms are limiting their capacities and are doing social distancing so that they can still workout and be safe. Do they have any friends left in their hometown that they can connect with? Even having one friend over for coffee can help them feel connected. Even though the weather is cold where I live, they can even bundle up and sit outside together. Everyone is in the same boat and probably feeling pretty similar. I was about to join a dating site when I met my husband. Even though it is online it is still a way to meet someone new. I hope things get easier for them soon. They are lucky to have you and just having family time is helping people through this difficult time.
- I hate cooking and my husband hates to eat out. He’s a great cook, but he thinks I should do the cooking. It’s a constant battle. Any advice?
Marriage is all about compromise and making things work for both partners. Sounds like you need to plan out the week with a variety of options. How many nights are you willing to cook? Sit down and negotiate a deal. Maybe you get takeout two nights, you cook two nights a week and he cooks two nights a week. Make a plan that can best satisfy both of you. Mix it up!
- My friends have only one child and she is the center of the world for them. They listen to her pontificate with awe. Honestly, I just wish they would tell her to shut up and let someone else say something. I love my friends, but I hate having them over because I can’t stand their relationship with their child. I try to set boundaries when they are here, but I come across as sandpaper. Tact isn’t my obvious strong suit. Any advice?
I think we need to accept our friends and their strengths and their weaknesses. Do the pros of their friendship outweigh the cons is the biggest question? Do you feel happy before during and after you spend time with them? If my friend tends to do something that bothers me, I do my best to change the topic. Jump in with a new subject or suggest something else to do. You aren’t going to change them. You only have control over your own reaction to it. Do your best to find a new way to look at it. Think about why it is pushing your buttons? We aren’t always going to agree with how our friend’s parent their children. I also think it’s important to share some of your feelings in a honest and tactful way. “I miss spending time with you and being able to talk to you. I love your child and I also want to be able to talk to my friend. Maybe sometimes we could schedule coffee dates with just you and I? That would mean a lot to me.” Good luck and I hope this was helpful to you.
I really appreciate you sending me all of these great questions. I hope that I was able to be helpful to you. I will also answer all of these questions live on my Wednesday night vlog. I will definitely do this again.
Laughing, Learning, Loving,
Rebecca Greene, LCSW-R