Family, On Motherhood

How We “Date” During These Crazy Family Years

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Both my husband and I are natural homebodies.  This bodes well for us during these little-kiddo family years, because trying to orchestrate a date night OUT is like attempting to get all the stars and all the planets to align perfectly, it seems! 😳  Something always happens last minute: a child gets sick, the babysitter has to cancel, etc.  We could definitely be more proactive about going OUT to keep that flame alive, but, you know what…?  We just really like staying in.  Together.

(My favorite boyfriend…back when I was a blonde, apparently…?? 😳😂)

However, because we know it would be easy to fall into a “two ships passing in the night” kind of situation what with his strange work hours at the hospital and the nuttiness of four daughters seven years old and younger, we really do make an effort to create time at the close of the day that’s just for us.  (And I mean time besides sexy times…I mean, we have four kids, man.  Where do ya think they came from?!  😏  Another favorite to-do, but I won’t get into that here….hehe….😉)  Yeah, sure, there are nights that I flop on the bed to watch “Outlander” or something from “Bachelor” Nation on my own while he settles into the couch for DVR’d golf marathons.  I mean, we are regular humans, after all.  😉  But!  The majority of our evening hours are spent together.

(Our engagement pics.  WE WERE BABIES, oh my word!  🙀  At the time, the ripe ol’ age of 22 seemed as though we were wise beyond our years, but good grief.  BABIES!!!)

It’s the little things, really, that make our evenings sort of like mini-date nights…but in our PJ’s.  The best kind of date of all!!  Ha!  For example, we usually don’t eat dessert with the kids, but instead we save it to eat together snuggled up in bed as we chat about our days.  A glass of wine (me) and an apple ale (him) by the glow of the Christmas lights never hurt no one, mmmkay?  😉  Seriously though, just knowing we BOTH want to hurry up to get to bed so we can actually look at each other’s faces and hear the words coming out of each other’s mouths sans crazy kid chaos is a strange form of romance in and of itself, and our evening quiet time is a balm to the weary parent’s soul.

(Camp counselors together one summer before we were married.  I think this was some sort of themed dress-up thing…?  I hope…? 😳😂)

Another way we try to make these evenings in special is to grab sushi or a special meal we both love as takeout earlier in the evening, and then we wait to eat together curled up in our cozy bed after the kids are asleep.  Sushi in my softies?!?!  Yes.  Yes please.  🙌🏻  We also really try to find Netflix binges that appeal to both of us so that we can spend TV-time together, rather than in two separate rooms watching two separate things.  Not every single night, like I mentioned above, but something as small as sharing our favorite shows and movies together each night gives us something to look forward to and to chat about later.  It’s small.  But we love it.  After our dinner or dessert/drinks (or all three!), I lay my head on his lap and he runs his fingers through my hair to help relieve tension (my FAVORITE THING HE DOES EVER IN THE HISTORY OF EVER❤️), and we relax in knowing we’re together, the kids are tucked away, and it’s time to just breathe and rest.

(We were close friends for two years before getting together.  I bought him at a date “auction” fundraiser for our college student council, and, after threatening all the other girls within an inch of their lives not to even think about, I walked out with the best $75 I’d ever spent. ❤️)

By NO MEANS are we this perfect #goals couple who never fights and does all the saccharine sweet, Instagram-worthy things.  Nope.  We argue.  We are grumpy sometimes.  He snores and I toot and sometimes we could use some mediation with regards to who gets the bigger of the two cookies on the plate.  I’m not great with encouraging words; he’s not great with organization/planning.  He impersonates Jimmy Stewart just to drive me insane, and I force him to listen to Broadway tunes on repeat.  We’re normal.  And, right now, we find ourselves in this crazy busy, loud, swirly season of life where fancy date nights out are rarer by the year….so we compensate!  We could definitely be a bit more proactive in making the effort to go out, but, when we do stay in, it’s our favorite time of the day.  Quiet snuggles just the two of us.  Here’s to staying in. ❤️

What about you?  Do you and your person go out or stay in more?  Change with the season of your life like us?  Do you also toot and impersonate Jimmy Stewart and still find yourselves in love?!  😉

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  1. Lindzie says:

    Hahaha! I love this. My hubby and I grew up as neighbors on the same street and we didn’t get together until after college. My husband is a home body and I’m a social butterfly so we defiinetely balance each other. He reminds me it’s ok to relax at home and I tell him we need a new adventure with the kids. And yes I toot all the times and he sings to be funny/drive me nuts. LOL!

  2. Sandee says:

    Oh my gosh, your so funny. Your both so adorable and real. It takes a BIG amount of commitment during those little kidos days. It’s so easy to wander away from each other out of sheer exhaustion.
    My hubby and I both worked hard at carving out time together, now it’s just natural and we love spending time together.
    I call my husband Jimmy Stewart all the time, he takes forever telling a story. 😂😂😂

    • Erin | Cotton Stem says:

      I hope to stay connected so that someday when the kiddos are gone, we still enjoy each other! And GAH. The Jimmy Steward impressions….😳

  3. Joy says:

    Just love this post! You could have been writing about me and my husband. We are exactly the same way. But you know what? It took me a decade to not be ashamed or actual admit to friends that we liked staying at home vs going out. Somehow I felt inferior hearing about our friends big dates out on the town while we just stayed at home. Wish I could have read this post ten years ago! Thank you for writing this honest and funny post!

  4. Kaci says:

    I relate SO much to you and your stories/blogs! Me and my hubby also have 4 kids so we know the struggle is real to not drive each other insane 😂 our favorite thing to do is stay in and watch This Is Is… Whether he admits it or not 😉

  5. Bailey says:

    First of all, I love your blog and Instagram feed, but I just had to comment and ask if the picture of you as camp counselor’s is at Sky Ranch? I went to many church camps there and always loved it! Small world 😍

  6. Linda says:

    Love this!
    First of all, we’re grandparents AND newlyweds (4 years)! We sat in high school home room MANY years ago, didn’t date and barely talked. 30 years later we connected on fb, he in CA and me in TN! People always ask him why he left CA for TN and he always says “a pretty girl”. He’s pretty sweet.
    We are empty nesters but we live with my Dad because he requires 24 hour care. We work weird schedules, plus taking care of dad makes going anywhere really hard. I’m the homebody (he’s not), but he’s happy just to be with me. See how sweet?
    He toots….A LOT!! 😂😂

  7. Madelyn says:

    I love this post. Much needed as my husband and I try to navigate the season that is our first born son who is a raging toddler, transitioning to stay at home mom and working for the family dad. Two introverted homebodies…
    I guess we just need to create some date nights too. Time to start eating dessert!

    • Erin | Cotton Stem says:

      Oh my word, that was perhaps the hardest transition of my entire life. So many changes all at once. HUGS MAMA!! You got this.

  8. Stephanie E says:

    I call It sexy time too and so many people laughed at me(in the nice sort of laugh) but It just made me giggle you did too!!! And I love this post and pretty much everything you do. Thanks for always being real! I’m not the tooter, he is and he laughs at my baby toots but I feel ya girl! That’s what loves about and I love It.

  9. Jennifer Crossland says:

    Yes staying in and watching football or a movie on a Saturday night with a big ole slice of pizza is my kind of night. After 27 years of marriage, 2 kids and I grand baby I find that a simple life is a more rewarding life for me 🙂

  10. Jackie White says:

    Fellow introvert here! I’m a serious reader and my hubby loves his UFC, but when we come together we love binge watching That 70’s Show and The Office 😂❤️…laughing our butts off, the best dates ever!
    But, date nights do get easier, my friend! My son is 17 and my daughter is 10… and self-sufficient…time is a flyin’ 😩
    And a little info nugget…I’m from Jimmy Stewart’s hometown and still reside. Indiana, PA 😍

  11. Jen Ward says:

    This is so cute! We have an almost 5 year old and a 5 week old so going out isn’t really on the schedule right now. I’d love to enjoy some “date time” inside the house but our five year old is such a mess to get to bed and it’s usually late before she’s settled aka not coming out of her room 50 times. I love how you talk about the season of your life. It’s such a reminder that dirty diapers and preschool sniffles are not our final destination. I really appreciate that ata time like this!😅😘

  12. Karen says:

    Your account and Insta stories are my favorite! Enjoy those snuggly date nights – doesn’t matter what they look like as long as there is purposeful connection. Our 3rd child just went to college this year, so we are new empty nesters. We are very active, traveling and scuba diving together, but our best date nights tend to be at home, in the quiet, currently binge watching Outlander! The key is to keep liking each other a lot because, believe it or not, those kiddos actually leave the nest one day!!

  13. Ann McFarland says:

    Sweet Erin, your heart for your family makes my soul smile! My hubbs n I have been together since ‘92, and since we finish each other’s sentences most days, we both try to be the MORE FUNNY one!! I say it’s always been me dah🙄! We love to stay home , me forever stealing his big ole Hanes Boxers and him in his super manly Despicable Me jammy bottoms always accompanied by what appears to be a dance of some sort 😂😂 Our oldest granddaughter Swayzee laughs till she says ;, Uh Oh Gramma, papa made me pee a lil again! When we aren’t babysitting, or have the kids over, our time together is our most cherished moments of each day! And as we approach 50 sweet Erin, it just gets better honey!! He says a fart like a “dock worker” and I say he dances like that crazy animal in Cadyshack! We out out dinner on weekends and always get 2 brownie sundaes! Love & home & alone time is always the perfect recipe for a beautiful night!

  14. Heidi says:

    You are cracking me up. We toot and always pretend to be shocked or appalled. We have always loved what we call our “home dates.” Special drinks or snacks plus a show, puzzle, or two-person game and we’re golden. 😁

  15. Lynde Swanner says:

    This made me laugh and cry for joy, because it’s all true and so the stage of life we are in also! We started waiting to have dinner after the kids were in bed about a year ago and it is my favorite time of the day. We are just real and you are just real and I just love we can be real. And I love that even in the real and normal and loss of innocence (bad breath, toots, bad attitudes) after years of marriage and kids, there’s a new kind o romance. Loved this!

  16. Jan says:

    I love reading and watching your feeds !!! So real and genuine !!! I have been married for 33 yrs and together for 37 omgosh …. but we are both homebodies and love it … our fav time was and still to be together w our boys … one is married and 2 girls (yeah ) love .. and one just engaged … they race cars and my husband builds and runs team and I am pit mom and never missed a race … everybody always said you should be going out when boys were younger but glad I did not we were all happy and time went so fast …. enjoy all your moments … take a deep breathe and feel blessed everyone is happy and healthy 😘😘

  17. Marci says:

    Omg I cannot believe you bought him at an auction!! That is the best story ever!

  18. Charra Jackson says:

    For us, I think it’s a season of life thing. When our 3 older set of kids (we had a surprise baby when the youngest was 10) were young, we would do traditional date-night outs, but only once a month. The kids were always priority until they were tucked away. We were young then, REALLY, REALLY young. (I was married at 18. Had kids at 20, 22, and 25!) But, that afforded us the energy to balance it all out. Over the recent years, I’ve become much more introverted and diggin the whole homebody vibe. That weighs on my mom-guilt, because our older kids are grown, and our 9 yr old is pretty much like an only child. It’s really tough to force extroversion on myself for her sake. I’m just so freakin tired! Having her at 35 was a huge difference. I feel like I’m in that twilight zone world of taking care of her, spending time with the hubs, trying to fit something in that I love to do for myself, and as much self-care I’m able to do in the last 5 strange years of chronic migraines. Mommin is the toughest job we’ll ever do. It’s trial and error, ups and downs, sweet and sour. But, it wouldn’t work if we didn’t keep the main relationship inn tact. The one that began this family unit in the first place. Times may be hard to squeeze in, but a simple, “Thank you so much for…today.” on a sticky note in their office (mine works from home) can make a big difference. I’m so thankful that I found you on IG and your blog. Your stories are something I actually look forward to in the morning. (That sounds kinda stalker-ish, right?😬) You’re real, always kind, never uplift, never fake. You’re the kind of person we need more of in this world. Even when you’re tired and crabby. Aren’t we all tho? Thanks for all of your shares, both in decorating and in simple life challenges. You’re pretty awesome, Erin. If you didn’t know that by now. 😉

  19. Gail says:

    😂 Loved reading your ” life book” Me and my hubby married when I was 15, he was18😳 Talk about crazy😐
    We are going on 32 yrs … we had 4 boys, lost our second son 12 yrs ago… We now have 4 grands 2 girls (yay!) and 2 boys😍
    when our boys were little we either took them with us ( 😳) or my Mama babysat! Our date night usually consisted of eating out then buying groceries 😂
    A strong marriage is putting God first, each other , children❤️ And being content with what we have:):):) I look back and wonder how life went by so fast til now…. Cherish everyday with your babies… because they will be grown before you realize it!

  20. Krista says:

    We never have sweet cereal for our kiddos (age 5 and 3) but we get a couple of our favorite kinds and hide them for our “cereal date nights”! A chance to sit down and breath together while eating something special. 😉 It’s all fun and games until the cereal starts dissapearing and I accuse him of “cheating” on me and eating cereal with someone else!!
    Love your blog and IG!!! 💕💕

  21. Kayla Edgeller says:

    My husband and I do this!! We watch seasons of shows we both like and curl up on the couch togetger as the littles are asleep. We just started doing this a little over a year ago and I’m so glad we did!! I love your “love story”! 😁

  22. Kayla Lawlor says:

    Hi Erin!!
    I loved this post. It’s a great reminder to find time to be together no matter what season of life we might be in. I think I might be trying that sushi, dessert, and wine in bed (IN MY JAMIES!) thing tonight!😋 Why didn’t I think of that?!

  23. pat calvano says:

    I cannot believe others love their bed like we do! We do alot together but even if we plan a night out..we end up eating chinese food and watching Netflix with our labradoodle:) . I always feel after 12 hrs in a loud, lighted, nosy hospital our bed, candles lite, cell phones off is the most romantic place. These are the things we remember at the end:)

  24. Dena says:

    LOVE this post:) You guys are fantastic….real people ….”you do you” in every part of your life!! And sushi in softies….DREAM date (don’t forget the wine)!

  25. Beverly Simons says:

    Ahha… Sounds like my life with my guy. We have only just started regular Friday date nights out now that our girls are older and independent and his work allows him home. It’s a treat but we still stay in on Saturdays. Secretly love cozy date nights at home!❤️ Love your stories Erin

  26. Nelly says:

    Oh Erin I LOVE this post!! My husband and I are exactly the same. We are two homebodies and we love it. Both of us are a little shy. He’s not into sports so I definitely lucked out on that! We were together for 20 years before we married and have now been together for 25 years. Like your hubby mine sometimes works shifts back to back and I sometimes do t see him for a few days. But man when we do it’s always like that first time! We love to snuggle and binge watch shows on Netflix . Sometimes it’s dinner in bed. The important thing is that we do us! ANY WAY WE WANT! We love our date nights in, much more than going out. I love you for always keeping it real girl!! Here’s to date nights in with our loves! Xoxo

  27. Jill says:

    First I have to tell you…I love following you! Your stories are so cute and you are down to earth and very humble..I love that! My husband and I have known eachother since I was 14…He was a year older than me and we met in high school. He made it his mission to date me. We started dating when I was 16 and we have been together ever since. Fast forward to today. We have 3 daughters 35years, 31years and 26years. We also have one son 23years old. We have 5 grandsons 8years and younger and another grandson arriving in January…lol. Our most favorite times are spent at home enjoying the peace and quiet and our talks. So yes….at home dates are the best!!!

  28. Yomi says:

    This wa a good read. My husband is a homebody, but I’ve gotten used to always having things to go to while growing up and even into my college years so reading this just reminds me to appreciate and respect his preferences. And while i love a good ol’ dinner and a movie date, those date night ins that he so often gets exited for aren’t so bad after all. He reminds me to just take it in and appreciate the fact that we’re spending that time together. We also have two young kids so, date nights don’t happen too often anyway.

  29. Susan says:

    I’ve been married for 37 years, and it’s been a good 37 years – with many trials in between. We persevered and in our senior years we’re sharing a new appreciation for each other. After we go to work, I send him a text every day, telling him something I love about him (how he takes care of the cars, always takes out the garbage, loves me when I’m unlovable). We appreciate and enjoy each other more than we ever have.

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