I’m so fortunate to live in the same town with my sister, brother and parents. Because we all live so close to each other, we also trade off watching each others kids or having Gigi and Papa watch all the cousins so the moms and dads can get out for date night.
This has been so great for Dean and I, because we’ve been able to do a lot more things away from our kids than we’d be able to if we lived away from family. And the biggest reason is from my kids perspective, it’s not babysitting.
Going over to a cousins house or spending the night with Gigi and Papa is a huge treat. For my kids, going over to family’s house is the best and they don’t feel like they are missing out on mom and dad time, instead it’s usually a nice change of pace for them. They’ve even been known to cry when we have to leave and go home. “Mom, we want to stay here at Gigi’s house. Come back later.”
If we lived far away and had to rely on babysitters all the time, Dean and I wouldn’t be able to be in regular bible studies, or do multiple date nights in a month. And it’s not because we couldn’t find a capable babysitter, but it’s because I don’t want my kids to feel like they have babysitters all the time. I want them to feel that after mom and dad get home from work, the majority of the time, we are going to do things together as a family.
On the flip side, there have been times where Dean and I notice a change in our kids behavior after a couple busy weeks and we know that we need to cut back on the extra activities. We need to get settled back into our family of four routines at home and say “no” to a lot of things. And that gives our family time to recharge and readdress our priorities.
I want my kids to see balance. That mom and dad do things with them a lot and then mom and dad have their own things they do – whether it’s bible study, date night, a night out with friends, exercising, etc.
And in those times that mom and dad are away, my kids mostly get to spend time with other family members, so it feels like a special treat for them instead of rotating babysitters! It’s really turned out to be such a blessing to raise my kids with my family members so close by because it truly takes a village!