Making time for 'us'

Last Updated 19 February 2016, 18:35 IST

Mention ‘we time’ and you’re sure to touch a raw nerve. Especially when the person it is mentioned to is a poor, unsuspecting parent. (Which, by the way, should be a gender-neutral term for all humans with little ones who have no other life than caring for the latter species.)

When I stepped out to look for parents who do end up spending time with each other in spite of their parental duties, I knew it was a moon shot. What I didn’t expect was that I would get looks so dirty or guffaws so loud as would put the demon community to shame. One mother even shot back, “Well, if we had some ‘we time’ then we would be one baby more.”

But persistence pays and I found quite a few parents who actually make time for each other and would not give it up for anything. There is a lot of pre-production and post-production work to it — parents and baby coordination, contingency planning, hushed up getaways, handling social barbs, coming up with excuses. But think of the positives! Alone time with your spouse where you are not thinking of what to cook next, whether the poop is worry-worthy or not, or speculating over whose turn it is to get the homework done.

Meet the parents

With some luck, Ruchi Goel will hop on to her first ever holiday with the hubby, since they became parents, to London. With an 18-month old son, the couple has tried two outings earlier but never really ‘enjoyed’ the experience. “We travelled first for a day-trip when our son was about six-months-old. And the one we took last year was not really a holiday because we ended up doing the same thing that we do at home. Our son had just begun to crawl and we were running behind him all day,” says the Gurgaon-based mom who runs an e-commerce website for kids’ clothing.

This time, the couple has a chance to go to London for 12 days. “Well, it’s a really cold country and my in-laws suggested we go by ourselves. We are naturally thrilled about doing that! But we have taken his ticket already just in case he doesn’t stay back or something,” says Ruchi, the excitement evident in her voice. “I am waiting to break out of the monotony of home-office-baby and drink some wine and indulge in some adventure sports with my husband. We also have a lot to talk about…we suffered a loss in the family recently…we have been thinking of baby number two and need time to discuss it all.” Ask her how her peers are reacting to her travel news, and she laughs, “Plain jealous. That’s what all of them are.”

Swapnali Gopale, a communications specialist in Mumbai, has not had it that easy but she and hubby dearest sure know how to snatch their ‘we moments’. “Moving out with our three-year-old daughter? It’s next-to-never! But I think last week my hubby had enough of work and parenting. So while we were both driving to work, he stopped the car and told me to call office and report sick. He did the same and the next thing I knew we were driving to Sula Vineyards in Nasik. The long drive and the time together put us in a different zone. We were happy to play truant and be the couple we used to be,” shares Swapnali. The duo is so chuffed with this idea that they now plan to do this at least twice a month.

As architect Bhumika Sharma sees it, parents should not be uni-dimensional creatures in the eyes of their children; they should be seen as people with their own lives and desires as well. “Spending time with the family, spending time alone together and spending time with oneself — all three are equally important.

Honestly, it’s super convenient to ignore the latter two after marriage! Now that my boys are a bit grown up (ten and seven years) it’s important for them to know that parents need their time too — individually as well as together,” she adds.

So, just as her boys love to catch up with their friends once in a while (sans the
parents), so do the mom and dad! “Papa-boyfriend and momma-girlfriend are disciplined about going out on a regular basis and taking out time for each other. Weekends are the best for us. And, we certainly look forward to spending some quality time together whenever we can go on a short holiday away from all the distraction at home.”

What an idea!

While most couples agree that spending time together helps the relationship tremendously, especially to tide over the incessant bickering that creeps into a marriage every once-in-a-while, the fact remains that not many parents are able to make time for each other.

It doesn’t always have to mean going on a holiday, without the little one. Think out of the box! For Sejal and Pankaj Rathod, ‘we time’ happens when their six-year-old daughter is off to sleep by 9.30 pm. “After that, it’s our time. We watch movies and share what happened during the day. I put her in a strict schedule because of the advice given by other parents. Very rarely, when my mother comes down to visit us in Goa, do we get a chance to move out of the house and spend some time in a pub like the earlier days. We can’t think of holidaying without our daughter because she loves to see new places too and it’d be almost heartless to not take her with us,” shares Sejal.

Mumbai-based entrepreneur Jagadish Iyer concurs. After all, only outstation vacations and weekend getaways don’t qualify as ‘we time’. “My wife and I are both involved in raising both our kids — our five-year-old son and our fledgling business. The obvious fallout is that we are at loggerheads over several things but the best part is that we are together all the time. I don’t really feel that leaving my son behind with his grandparents is a great idea, even though my wife’s parents stay close by (and our son is very attached to them). They’ve spent all their life watching over us and now why should they be watching over our kids? Also, why should my son miss out on a lovely holiday?” he asks.

So, when does this couple unwind? “We snatch our moments. We have breakfast dates after dropping our son to school. We have long morning walks,” he says. “With time, the definition of romance has tweaked, not the romance itself.”

How to plan ‘we time’

Schedule your child’s bedtime; it helps in the long run.
Get your child used to spending time with grandparents (if they are willing and able).
Plan a short trip first. If successful, you can plan a longer one next time.
Don’t wait for Valentine’s Day or wedding anniversaries; take time out for each other on a daily basis.

Breakfast dates, anyone?

 Turn a deaf ear to the barbs — if both of you, your child and the caretakers in your absence are fine with the arrangement.

(Published 19 February 2016, 15:59 IST)

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