Couples Clinic: Finding More Quality Time
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Couples Clinic: Finding More Quality Time

Carve out bonding time with your husband and kids -- here's how.

If you're like most moms, chances are you feel like you never get to spend enough quality time with your children -- let alone your husband. Yet, having time to bond with your family can improve your marriage, as it helps foster a feeling of closeness between both kids and parents. But when is there possibly time? You've got to get creative. Here, some suggestions:

Step 1. Get started by figuring out exactly what everyone is doing each day. One night, when you have a free moment, grab a piece of paper and chart it out, hour by hour. Over the past week, how did you, your husband, and your kids spend your non-working and non-school hours? List all activities -- sports, games, religious meetings or services, attending a play or concert, watching TV, housekeeping, cooking, volunteering at the soup kitchen -- even lying on the couch.

Step 2. Next ask yourself if any of you are doing similar activities at different points during the week. If so, try to coordinate them so they are at the same time. For example, if you spend an hour at a food bank, and your middle schooler needs to earn community service credits, why not volunteer together? Schedule an hour when your husband is free, and you've got a bonding experience for the entire family. Similarly, if you spend a few hours doing errands every week, consider bringing your husband or kids along. Running errands or doing daily chores together can enhance your sense of partnership.

Step 3. If you can't find activities already in your schedule to do together, try forging new family rituals. It might mean you, your husband, or your kids have to give up doing something, but it's worth the sacrifice. Rituals give us all something to look forward to, a sense of rhythm in our lives, as well as a chance to strengthen relationships and express who you are as a family. Pick times when the majority of the family is free. If nightly dinner is a scheduling nightmare, then what about a short breakfast, if most of you eat at home in the mornings anyway? Or Friday night dinners, if your son is the only one who is usually out at the movies that night? Or pizza and movie night on rotating evenings, so someone doesn't always have to give up their activity or commitment?

Whatever you decide to do, making sure you have enough quality time with both your husband and your family will help you have a more balanced and intimate marriage.