Andrew East and his wife, Shawn Johnson, are unreachable between the hours of 5 and 9 p.m. every Thursday.
“That’s Shawn and Andrew time,” East, 29, told TODAY Parents.
It’s a weekly tradition that began when Johnson was pregnant with their daughter, Drew, who was born in Nov. 2019.
Now, with baby No. 2 on the way and the 14-month-old toddler running around, the couple recognizes that prioritizing their marriage is more important than ever.
“That was some really good advice we got early on,” East, who plays in the NFL, revealed. “It’s been such a crucial part of our schedule. There are so many things that happen after you have kids, and it’s easy to lose touch. It’s nice that we can always count on once a week, being able to have that togetherness. Just the two of us.”
Sometimes East and the former Olympic gymnast, who is about 13 weeks along in her pregnancy, will do a craft project or listen to a podcast. Occasionally, they'll read a book. But most often, they just sit down and talk.
“We try to make a time where we can find out something new about each other and preserve that date night mentality,” East explained. "Also, every night, after we put Drew down, we have a 10 to 15 minute period to kind of just debrief the day before we sit on the couch and watch TV."
East noted that his marriage to Johnson "definitely changed" after they became parents. The pair, who have been together since 2012, were no longer each other’s top priority.
“There’s this identity shift that happens when you transition from being carefree to, 'Holy smokes, we have a dependent to take care of,'” East said. “We definitely struggled through the first few months."
And it's only natural that there are still tense moments.
"People deal with the stress of a crying child differently," East said. "With Shawn, every time Drew cries it's high alert, we gotta fix the problem immediately, and I'm kind of more laid back. And there's conflict that comes out of that because she thinks that I don't care enough."
But more than a year into the parenting game, East and Johnson have found their groove and are eagerly waiting to find out the sex of their unborn child. (Johnson is planning a big reveal!)
“Our expectations are just different. We love each other deeper. We're having more fun than we ever could have dreamed of, " East shared. “I’m sure there will be chaos and I’m sure their will be arguments when the new baby comes. But we just have a different perspective now.”
East opened up to TODAY while promoting his partnership with TytoCare medical exam kits. The product, that works with an app, allows patients to perform guided exams with their healthcare provider. Each kit comes complete with tools including a stethoscope, an otoscope for ear examinations and a skin camera.
“It gives us peace of mind when we’re under the weather,” East said. “And it’s kind of fun to give the exams too!"