If you’re anything like me, work/life balance can sometimes take a backseat when the kids come into it. As a parent, it’s my job to prioritize my kids needs above all else, and sometimes, that means neglecting my other relationships. But does that mean my spouse as well? And does that make me happy?
It often feels impossible to maintain friendships, and I don’t even dare to think about the romantic weekend getaways I had before kids. It can feel like an uphill battle keeping my relationship alive, but in my opinion there’s nothing better for my kids, then for both parents to be as dedicated to each other, as we are to the family!
I hear ya, it’s not always easy. The first baby is exhausting, the second is a tag-team effort, and by the time you hit three or more, you’re outnumbered, and it feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day. But there are ways to keep the spark alive in your relationship. Some sound a little less romantic than others, but I promise, if you follow these tried and true methods, you’re sure to bring a bit of romance back into your life, even after kids!
Keep Communication Open
Couples get tired. It’s tempting, no matter your situation, to blame each other, or let resentments fester. Keeping score is a bad idea. If one of you is staying at home, it can naturally feel like you’re carrying the bulk of the childcare. If you’re both working, it’s natural to feel guilty, and frustrated, and want to spend any time you have as a couple, with your kids. It’s a bad idea. Instead of letting the guilty feeling keep you apart, take time out of your day to make a plan, together. You’re a team, remember. So make time each day to talk to each other, and plan to tackle the daily grind together, so you can both feel like you’re deserving of a break, and you can comfortably take it together Don’t let resentments and arguments fester, and be appreciative of each other, and what each of you brings to both the family dynamic, and your relationship.
Get Creative On Date Night
Scheduling in a date night every week, or every two weeks is a good way to make sure you and your partner spend quality time. But try to keep it spontaneous. Don’t schedule the same day and time week after week. When my partner and I instituted date night, we found it got stale after a couple months, because it became one more thing we had to schedule. You might think making it more spontaneous will give you less time to book a sitter, but there are plenty of ways around it. Schedule time after you know the kids will be in bed. Or book an extra curricular like sports or day camp, and spend time together during weekend afternoons, if you can. You may not have the money, or time for an elaborate date night once a week, but spending a few hours hanging out, cooking a meal together, or just cuddled up on the couch can do wonders for your relationship!
When I was growing up, I had the embarrassing parents. My father would randomly wrap his arms around my mom as she cooked in the kitchen, she would rest her hand on his shoulders as she came into the living room. My parents kissed in front of us regularly. Now, my parents have been married for nearly 40 years, and as much as we still roll our eyes, I’m grateful to their example. A big part of my own relationship has become about staying connected with a little PDA during the day. Don’t be afraid to be affectionate in front of your kids. Regular kisses, hugs, taking a moment to wrap an arm around each other, can have a huge impact on your relationship. Physical affection means you’re more physically aware of each other, which keeps you thinking about each other’s needs in a more tangible way. It also tends to release endorphins, which really helps with day-to-day stress!
Take Time For Each Other
Some days, all you want to do is crawl into bed and forget the world. But don’t. Take time to talk to each other. Find new things you like doing together. Take on projects. If you’re on different schedules, send “I love yous” through text or leave little notes around the house. It doesn’t have to be a lot of time. Especially after a first baby, new responsibilities can make you feel like rearranging your whole life. But the great thing is, you have someone in it with you who’s in your corner. Lean into each other, and be each other’s touchstone, so you have someone to remind you who you were before kids, and everything you want to be after. Even if you can only take five or ten minutes out of the day to reconnect, take the time.
Listen, the first six months or so after a baby, your life will absolutely turn upside down. Your hormones will be crazy, your emotions will run wild, and the lack of sleep will make you question every aspect of your life, and your sanity! Don’t let it eat away at your relationship. Sometimes, the last thing you’ll want to do is snuggle. Know when you need some “me” time, and know when your partner is at breaking point. A massage or a bubble bath goes a long way on the rough days, but even a favorite meal can make a huge difference. It’s always nice to know when someone is looking out for you!
There’s no doubt that having kids will change your relationship. There’s nothing more amazing than becoming a parent, but that doesn’t mean you should forget how amazing it is to be in love with your partner. With a little creativity, and just a little time, you can keep that spark alive, and get some romance back in your life, even after the long days of diaper duty!