Mr. Moneyaire and I were DINKs, double income no kids. Life was pretty cool. We could do whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted. We would book last minute weekend trips to catch a ball game in another city. Once, Mr. Moneyaire informed me he was taking a two week trip with his buddy through Europe. My main concern was that he bring the credit card that wouldn’t charge us extra for international transactions or for currency exchange. We’d get “nice” dinners on a Tuesday night because we didn’t want to cook. Those were the days.
A baby in the baby carriage
Then we had Baby Moneyaire. I quit my job to become a stay at home parent, Mr. Moneyaire continued to work and climb the corporate ladder. Money didn’t necessarily become tight. However, we were nervous about how we’d adjust to a single income. Luckily, one of the benefits of having a kid later in life was that, financially, we were fine. Our big struggle was with something that blindsided us a bit. We understood Baby Moneyaire would require a lot of our time and attention. We didn’t realize that every minute of “free time” we used to have would be dedicated to it, though.
Don’t get me wrong; Baby Moneyaire was a very welcomed, highly anticipated addition to our lives. However, the lack of independence and time with each other as adults was taking a toll on us. Where once we both had a lot of free time and independence, we were now asking each other if we could take time out to do normal everyday things like take a shower.
As our free time dwindled so did our patience. We both felt burnt out. I came up with a solution; my time, your time and our time. Time3, if you will. During a rare dinner out without Baby Moneyaire, I suggested that every week Mr. Moneyaire and I each take a night to ourselves and alternating couples night or family night. This “night off” was meant to give each of us time to ourselves to pursue whatever it was we wanted without the obligation of domestic duties and help us connect with each other.
Don’t miss another Moneyaire post! Sign up with your email addy today!
This is how it works
We have an electronic family calendar that syncs to our phones’ calendars and to our smart screen in the kitchen. We have made recurring meetings that take place every week that show up on these calendars. They’re a reminder that every week Mr. Moneyaire and I are supposed to take an evening to ourselves. Our weekends can get pretty busy so our nights off are during the week. We treat that time as a pretty sacred thing and support each other to have that time.
By support I mean that we work with each other to make sure that each of us gets at least one evening off. Mr. Moneyaire makes sure to get off work early, or on time and jump into dad mode with Baby Moneyaire. Typically, we have an early dinner together and then head off on our separate ways. The parent assigned to domestic duty takes care of Baby Moneyaire, cleans up after dinner, picks up any egregious messes, and gets Baby Moneyaire ready for bedtime.
We encourage each other to, “take as much time as you need.” Some nights I take 2 hours to myself. Sometimes, I leave before dinner and come back home after Baby Moneyaire is fast asleep. Sometimes, the length of time is secondary to just getting some time. Work with your partner on how long you need and what the expectations are for an evening routine. Do this especially if that helps get you out the next morning.
Now this isn’t the ONLY time we ever get. Sometimes one partner may get an extra night out because something comes up one week. Sometimes work and social schedules are crazy and there’s no opportunity to take time for anyone. Stuff comes up – it’s not the end of the world. It is important, though, to make sure each partner in a relationship is getting the time they need on an ongoing basis.
How we navigate the “stuff”
Occasionally, Mr. Moneyaire has business trips or one of us isn’t feeling well or vice versa. That means someone’s “night off” comes into jeopardy. We’re lucky we have options. Grandma Moneyaire lives close by and is more than happy to care for Baby Moneyaire if we’re in a pinch. Aaaannd, we also have some great family and friends who would be happy to help. But, sometimes, everyone is busy, and a night off gets cancelled. Not the end of the world. We know there’ll be weeks when one of us might need an extra night and one of us might get less. Time3 is about respect, fairness and communication. We know we can work it out with one another. The thing is, because we have this pattern, we trust each other taking time and respecting each other to give time and space as needed. We talk it over and work it out.
What do you do on your night off?
I do whatever I want. Here are somethings I typically do for my night off:
- Yoga class
- Walk and listen to an audiobook or podcasts
- Go out with a friend. If you haven’t watched it yet, I highly recommend the Netflix show “Indian Matchmaking.” I got to meet the star of the show with a friend when she was giving a talk in the city during one of my nights off.
- Get a massage
- Write posts for this blog
Nights off are not meant for grocery shopping or running errands, unless that’s what either of us needs time to do. Mr. Moneyaire recently used his night off to go to the mall to shop for a Mother’s Day gift for me. I have used my night off to wrap gifts or do Christmas shopping. But, the point of the night off is to give ourselves time to do the things we want to do but otherwise would get lost in emptying the dishwasher and negotiating how many more bites of pasta before dinner is done.
Where do you go?
Our town sports a beautiful library with a fireplace and cushy chairs. Some nights I go straight there and take residence in an empty chair for the evening and read. There are some awesome paths and cute little downtowns in our area. I like going for a walk and listen to a Planet Money or Dolls of Our Lives podcast. Most recently I wrapped up an Audiobook titled “Debunkery” that I highly recommend by Ken Fischer. It’s about common investing ideas/rules of thumb etc. that are just bunk, or dangerous to your portfolio.
The point is to actually physically leave the house. Get some air. Do something different. Just. Get. Out. Its the act of leaving behind the responsibility that is really important for me. If I didn’t physically leave the house on my night off, I’d never be able to actually turn off from being my family’s life director.
Why is this important to do?
Mr. Moneyaire and I were two independent people with various interests outside of playing hide and seek and watching Puppy Dog Pals. After Baby Moneyaire came along, that didn’t change. We still have a lot of various interests and things we want to do that aren’t necessarily compatible with a kid on our hip. We’re both outgoing social people and need time to collect our thoughts and recharge mentally and physically.
We noticed right away that we both were on edge and feeling just burnt out. We were short with each other and didn’t have patience for each other’s small infractions. Small things would become big things. We needed to do something and that’s when the idea of giving each other a night off came to fruition. Just a night to recharge and get something done for ourselves. An opportunity to get out of the house.
Implementing the “my night, your night and our night” strategy has really helped make things calmer and smoother at home. We have more patience and are less tense – which is good for everyone, including Baby Moneyaire.
Speaking of Baby Moneyaire, we take a night every week to do something as a family or as a couple. We alternate. As a family we visit our library that has a great kid’s section or we go for a walk or to the playground, together. Sometimes we do something more elaborate and get home in time to put Baby Moneyaire to bed, mostly we just take an hour or two to do something fun as a family. When we take time to have a night out as just a couple, we arrange for Baby Moneyaire to be watched by grandparents and Mr. Moneyaire and I go out to get dinner and do something fun and kid free like play pool or go to the movies.
What does this have to do with personal finance?
There’s this sense that taking time for ourselves or as a family needs to be a grand gesture. Going to Disney. Booking a lavish spa day. Taking a beach vacation etc. Things that are expensive, take time to plan and time to do. Not saying that you shouldn’t do those things if you have the means, but I, I need to replenish my cup more often than once or twice a year. Doing something for yourself doesn’t have to be an elaborate planned costly situation. Just trade nights with your partner (or other parent you’re friendly with and trust) and head to a cafe or library and have a cup of tea and read a good book. Or get a yoga class in or go for a long walk or run. Whatever will bring you a sense of peace or accomplishment.
Introducing a child into a relationship really changes it. It certainly changes how your time is spent. It definitely changes the dynamic of a relationship. These changes can be difficult on a relationship and I bet many couples end up separated, divorced or just “staying together for the kids.” The changes that take place are hard, and if not managed, can deteriorate a marriage or a relationship.
Don’t miss another Moneyaire post! Sign up with your email addy today!
The D Word
Divorce is one of the biggest threats to a married couple’s financial position. Divorce is not cheap. The median cost of divorce is about $7,000 and, on average, between $15,000 to $20,000. We heard from one friend that their own acrimonious divorce cost over $100,000 and took nearly 2 years to negotiate.
Aside from just the cost of getting a divorce, being single with kids is expensive and so is child support and alimony. On top of that, costs double for housing, and stuff and life in general after a marriage ends. And, maybe that’s for the best.
Certainly, I am not lobbying for people to stay in unhappy marriages for the sake of finances. Divorce is sometimes the best route for some families and money well spent. But before it gets to that point, perhaps just taking time out for ourselves and allowing your partner to do the same can save a lot of heartache. Perhaps, it is the thing that’s needed to turn the tension down so two partners can talk more openly.
The gift of time
When you put into practice “my time, your time and our time”, Time3, its about respecting each other individually, together as a couple and as a family. If you implement this in your family, make sure to respect each other’s time and space. Make sure you show up on time for your partner and give them the respect of keeping these times sacred.