Finding time for yourself to grow and change as an adult and to get some respite is just as important as couples' time. That's why it's not a bad idea for parents to regularly set aside a chunk of alone time outside of work, family and marriage.
There are all sorts of options, ranging from just a few minutes a day to no more than a few hours a week. This kind of personal time doesn't even have to be solitary or scheduled -- stolen moments can be found throughout the day. If your 5-year-old splashes toys around the bathtub by himself for most of his bath, pick up a book. If you'd prefer complete silence, get up 15 minutes before the rest of the family and do a few minutes of yoga or listen to a few songs on your headphones.
Scheduling "time-outs" is also a handy way to create pockets of personal time. If you work in a city or even a major suburban area, chances are, there's a gym nearby. Take a lunchtime exercise class, which fulfills both your exercise time and personal time. Less formally, leave your spouse on kid-duty for an hour at a time on a weekend morning so you can go enjoy something fun and frivolous, like a walk through a bookstore or a latte run.
But because one of the benefits of taking personal time is creating a stronger bond with your spouse, make sure you both get equal chunks of private time. That means that if one of you gets to take a pottery class every other Tuesday night, then the other person gets to have a couple of regularly scheduled hours each month to work on that novel he or she has always wanted to write. Added bonuses of this arrangement? Solitary time at home for the one who's staying home, and if the kids are still awake, one-on-one parent-kid time.
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