Thursday, January 16, 2014

Taking Time as a Couple

This weekend my husband and I are going away for our anniversary. We just hit 14 years, which is very exciting, and quite the accomplishment in today's world. To my knowledge, we've never gone away to celebrate our anniversary before, so this trip is a bit of a milestone. We're both looking forward to having time to focus on each other, without distractions or responsibilities. With three active children, our relationship can sometimes take a back-burner to our busy lives, and we need a re-charge!

How often do you and your husband remember to celebrate your couple-ness? Over the years our date nights have been few and far between for the most part. When the girls were really young, we couldn't afford a babysitter, so nights out didn't happen much. As they got a bit older, and money became a little less of an issue, we still struggled to make dating a priority. It wasn't until my girlfriend and I devised a monthly babysitting swap that we actually started enjoying time set aside just for us every month.

I can't stress enough how important time alone with your spouse is. Last year during sequestration, our budget was pretty tight, so our date nights were spent at home. We'd drop the girls off for their sleepover (which they love), run to the grocery store for some goodies, come home and put jammies on, and pop a movie in. Our overall cost was low, but the time together was priceless! Other months we've gone out to a nice dinner and just spent hours talking. I can't tell you how special it is to remember all over again why I married this man!

So, maybe you don't have close friends or family around. Are you out of luck? Nope - there are so many options for couples today! Unfortunately, not all of them are free, but you may be able to find something that's fairly low cost and budget-friendly.
Look into some of these ideas:
1) Share childcare expenses - If you're looking to go out with another couple, hire one babysitter and share the cost.
2) Barter - Do you cut hair, tutor, or provide another service? You may be able to trade favors with a teen or other young person in return for babysitting service.
3) Utilize trustworthy teenagers - If you have a neighborhood teen or a young person from the youth group at church that you can trust, consider offering them a babysitting opportunity. They usually charge less than an adult. 
4) Join a babysitting co-op - Many churches or other groups will start babysitting co-ops. You'd drop your child at a specified location and provide their meal, and another couple would watch them. At some other point you would return the service. If several families are involved, the duty rotates month-to-month.

Even if your only option is the free childcare available at the mall or at IKEA, take advantage of some time to be alone with your hubby! You need time together that's not about changing diapers, feeding small people, or dealing with drama. Re-connect with the man you've chosen to spend your life with - not the daddy - and let him re-connect with you, the woman - not the mommy - he's picked!   

Monday, January 6, 2014

New Year, New Goals

It's New Years resolution time! Have you written yours down? I found a really interesting chart on
Take a look:
Statistic Verification
Source: University of Scranton. Journal of Clinical Psychology
Research Date: 1.1.2014

RankTop 10 New Years resolutions for 2014
Lose Weight
Getting Organized
Spend Less, Save More
Enjoy Life to the Fullest
Staying Fit and Healthy
Learn Something Exciting
Quit Smoking
Help Others in Their Dreams
Fall in Love
Spend More Time with Family
News Years Resolution StatisticsData
Percent of Americans who usually make New Year’s Resolutions45%
Percent of Americans who infrequently make New Year’s Resolutions17%
Percent of Americans who absolutlely never make New Year’s Resolutions38%
Percent of people who are successful in achieving their resolution8%
Percent who have infrequent success49%
Percent who never succeed and fail on their resolution each year24%
People who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t explicitly make resolutions 
Type of Resolutions (Percent above 100% because of multiple resolutions)Data
Self Improvement or education related resolutions47%
Weight related resolutions38%
Money related resolutions34%
Relationship related resolutions31%
Age Success RatesData
Percent of people in their twenties who achieve their resolution each year39%
Percent of people over 50 who achieve their resolution each year14%
Length of ResolutionsData
Resolution maintained through first week75%
Past two weeks71%
Past one month64%
Past six months46%

Aren't these interesting? What's also telling to me, though, is how long these resolutions last. Most people are done keeping their resolution within a week. Why is that? Why can't we make a goal and stick with it? Weight loss, especially, seems to be something we moms give up on pretty quickly. We're quick to give ourselves an out: the kids have to nap, they're too disruptive, I'm too tired, or any other excuse we can use.

I haven't set myself any resolutions this year, but I do have specific goals I'm working on in my life. I think it's important that we all set goals for ourselves, and then we actively pursue them. For instance, if you'd like to lose weight, and you make it your New Years resolution, pursue it! Don't just purchase a gym membership - find a gym buddy, use a trainer, find classes you enjoy. If you're working out at home, make it work for you. I stick with my regimen much better when I'm with other people, so I take an aerobics class twice a week, and I kickbox twice a week. It keeps me accountable, and I'm able to share my exercise enjoyment with friends.

One thing I think we Christians always resolve to do is read our Bibles more each year. This is one deal I make with myself every year, and I usually have pretty poor follow-through. This year, I'm doing a reading plan with Charles and other members at church who have taken the challenge. I'm hopeful that we'll be able to hold each other accountable for our spiritual exercise plan!

So, moms, I hope that if you've set resolutions for yourself, that you'll set out with a mind-set to succeed. Include a friend or your spouse in your resolutions so they can help you stay on track.
Whatever your goals are, remember the S.M.A.R.T. analogy:
S - Specific. Commit to exactly what you want to achieve. Know what you're working for.
M - Measureable. Don't set a goal to lose weight - set a number. "I want to lose 10 pounds." You'll be able to measure your success this way.
A - Attainable. Make sure your goal is reasonable. Don't set yourself up for failure. Losing 10 pounds in a few days isn't attainable, but losing 10 pounds in 1-2 months certainly is.
R - Relevant. Your goal needs to mean something to you. Don't jump on the weight loss bandwagon if you're not really interested in losing weight and getting healthy.
T - Time-bound. Give yourself a time-frame to work with. "I want to lose 10 pounds in 2 months" gives you something specific to work towards in a set time period. With an ending in sight, it's easier to stick with something.