February 21, 2018

Married? Young Kids? You Need this One Weekly Tradition

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Have you wondered how to date your husband or wife when babysitters aren’t an option? This one tip will help you connect sans kids every week. 

My husband Andy and I didn’t have much of a social life in our young married years. He was in dental school and I was a weekend TV news anchor. Our schedules didn’t allow for much extra, but one thing we did every week was a Friday happy hour date. We went to the same restaurant every Friday, ordered appetizers and half-off drinks—it was perfect for our tiny budget and busy schedules.

When we had our first child, I found myself to be in a wretched mood every Friday afternoon. At first, I couldn’t figure it out. I mean, it was Friday, I should have been thrilled to start the weekend. Then it dawned on me—I missed Fridays feeling special.

A weekly date was no longer in the cards. Or was it?

I realized that even though our tradition was gone (getting a sitter once a week was not a realistic option for us), we could start a new tradition that still kept our Friday evenings our own—an in-house date.

Four years later, here’s what our weekly tradition looks like now: every Friday at 5 p.m., we start a movie for the kids. I pop in a frozen pizza for them and they watch and eat on the couch. I don’t know why they think this is the coolest thing ever, but they look forward to it every week! While the kids eat, I start prepping a meal for Andy and me to eat. Andy bathes the kids, they go down around 7 and then the night is our own.

We eat a restaurant quality meal at the table, with candles, good music, and even better conversation. We then watch one of our favorite series on Netflix that we reserve for Friday nights only… and the go upstairs and do married things.

This has been so transformative for us as a couple. We may not be able to go out every Friday, but we can still have a date night.

Friday nights are sacred and we look forward to our time together every week. The best part about it? This is not difficult to accomplish. Anyone can create this or something similar. Some Friday’s, it may be a delicious cheese board that takes no prep at all but includes a yummy dessert or a handcrafted cocktail. The point is to choose a few elements that make the evening stand out from the typical weeknight hustle.

That’s why I’m going to start a Friday Night Date Night Meals series. On Thursday evenings, I’ll post a date-night quality dinner, dessert or cocktail recipe that you can easily create for a Friday or Saturday in-house date with your spouse.

It can be so hard to carve time out for each other in this phase of life where tiny humans need you for their every need. Maybe an in-house Friday date is just what you need! This is life-giving, I promise. 

Want more marriage articles? Here are six ways we improved our marriage in six years

Here’s a recipe to get you started on your Friday night date night tradition. I’m not exaggerating when I say this Teriyaki Salmon Roll-up with Cream Cheese and Sriracha Cream Sauce is one of my favorite meals of all time. This is so easy to prepare, serve with a vegetable and your done. Get the recipe here or pin it for later!

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salmon teriyaki sweet spicy cream cheese recipe

How to date your husband

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February 15, 2018

New Site, More Me

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Hi everyone! Welcome to JillianBenfield.com, formerly known as News Anchor to Homemaker. If you’ve been around for a while, I’m sure you’re wondering—why the change? To put it simply—the name wasn’t me anymore. Let me give you a bit of background.

I started this blog back in 2014. I worked with a designer and the name, the graphic fit perfectly for what I wanted this blog to be, a food blog. The site launched and then days later we got our son’s Down syndrome diagnosis. Since then, that cute name, that adorable family graphic, just didn’t fit. I’ve taken my readers down the many roads of grief, reflection and enlightenment as life has thrown us many unexpected hardships and subsequent lessons over the years.

Not to mention, this year makes five years since I’ve been a news anchor!

I did some soul searching this summer while I was 9 months pregnant and living at a Ronald McDonald House (a place where contemplating your life just comes with the territory) and I realized changes were in order. Not just the name, not just the design, but also the content.

I had put myself in a box—special needs parent and Christian writer. I rarely opened the flaps to go outside those limits I set for myself. I thought it was my “brand”, but you know what? My life, my experiences, my thoughts go beyond those two titles. 

So, what can you expect? My greatest hope is that you will feel both connected and inspired here. You will get what you’ve come to know from my words—real life, raw honesty, all with a heaping dose of encouragement and hope. You will also get more topics—parenting (both special needs and the regular kind), marriage, Down syndrome and advocacy, many spiritual reflections and also more fun—more recipes, more parties, more tips of things I’ve learned along the way.

I also want this space to be more about you. How can you be apart of it? Join my new Facebook group—Real Life, Roaring Hope. This is a community where we will listen to each other and lift one another up. 

So, grab a cup of coffee/tea, glass of wine or bowl of popcorn and explore my new virtual home. Read my mission for this site, dive into my story, get to know the family and make sure you also follow along on Facebook and Instagram so we can laugh together in the midst of our sometimes-serious reflections.

I’m so thankful for my readers, I hope you all come to love this new space.

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February 5, 2018

Plan for your Child’s Future with ABLEnow

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Tracking Pixel(This is a sponsored blog post written by me on behalf of ABLEnow. All opinions are my own.)

I remember dreading the long drive to my monthly Partners in Policymaking course. My son Anderson, who has Down syndrome, had just turned one and although I was taking the course to learn tools that would better his future—the weekend dedicated to “Transitioning” seemed too far off.

The first thing the speaker said was, “When do you start planning for your child’s future after high school?” The room was silent. “Now. You start planning now.”

That day a paradigm shift happened. I realized our attitude, our language, and our decisions in regards to Anderson, needed to be with his future in mind. We envision a life for our son where he will have meaningful relationships, independence and a job he finds fulfilling.

We need to take steps now to give him the best chance for this life as possible. One step we’ve already taken in planning ahead is setting up an ABLEnow account.


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For too long, parents of children with disabilities (and people with disabilities themselves) could not save for the future without fear of losing their public benefits. Advocates and disability organizations fought hard to change this, resulting in the federal ABLE Act and new ABLEnow program.

ABLEnow allows parents to save for their children with disabilities in an affordable, tax-advantaged account that won’t risk affecting benefits like Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income down the line. 

Because my husband is active duty military, we incur little to no expense in regards to Anderson’s disability. However, this is not the case for many families who have children with disabilities. An ABLEnow account allows parents to pay for certain disability expenses now, as well as invest in the future.
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If your state does not have its own ABLE program, there’s no need to wait to open an account. ABLEnow is a national program, allowing you to open an account from any state. Here’s another great thing about an ABLEnow account—anyone can contribute. That means grandparents, or other relatives can make their own contributions to your child’s account in addition to your own savings.

Being a writer-type, dealing with financial aspects of our family is not a task I enjoy and often defer to my husband. However, opening an ABLEnow was easy even for me. From start to finish the process took 20 minutes. It takes 20 minutes to take a step towards planning your child’s future with a little less fear and much more certainty.

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I’m so thankful for the advocates and parents who have gone before me and paved the path to make ABLEnow accounts possible.

Have questions? Watch the video or visit the FAQ section.

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How to Save for Your Child with a Disability

This is a sponsored blog post written by me on behalf of ABLEnow. All opinions are my own.

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