It’s fair to say I didn’t realise how hard parenthood would be. Not just in general (although, for the record, it is!) but on the relationships that we have. Almost overnight, our focus went from spending time with one another to keeping this tiny human fed, happy and, most importantly, alive. With that our relationship changed to something different and we’ve worked hard to bring it back on track. Now we’re heading back into the newborn days again and added another dimension to our family life, I want to make sure that we don’t slip down that rabbit hole again. Here are some of things we’ll be doing to keep our relationship alive during parenthood…
I mean REALLY talking, not just about your children but about all the other bits of your lives. Let’s face it, we’re all guilty of doing it; we go out for a rare child-free evening and spend the entire time talking about how cute they were today or what we should get them for their birthday. But when we don’t talk to one another, we’re not showing our kids the importance of a healthy relationship given that they learn by example. Try dedicating some time each evening to the pair of you catching up; whether that’s over dinner when the kids are in bed or getting in to bed ten minutes earlier to dissect your day. For us, we find walking the dog together a good chance to check in and chat. Plus the added bonus of a bit of exercise for all of us!
As cringeworthy as they sound, taking time to step out of your parenting roles and back into your roles as partners is a vital part of surviving every stage of parenthood. Whether your date nights are at home, spent as a couple or as part of a larger group, they’re a vital chance to reconnect with each other and the people that you were before parents. Dating helps raise your oxytocin levels, the hormone otherwise known as the ‘bliss hormone’ or ‘love drug’, helping to reduce stress and promoting a general feeling of well-being, hence the importance of keeping those date nights in place. That’s not to say single parents should lose out, there are many dating sites available, even for older parents (take for example, this over 50s dating site for men and women), there really is no excuse to get out there and get those good hormones pumping!
I’ll admit, there are times when I get ridiculously jealous of my husband’s life. He’s the ‘fun’ one who rushes in at the end of the day, hyping our son up before bed time. He gets to go to work, have adult conversation, change no nappies and use his brain. He hasn’t had to deal with his body changing, being taken over by a pregnancy or been mauled day and night during breastfeeding. For a while, it consumed me. But… then I realised that he was jealous of me as well. He was jealous that I got to spend so much time with our son, that when our son cried out for comfort he wanted me and that I got to bond with our baby far earlier than he could. Those days when I’m sat there cursing him for enjoying a great time in the office, he’s sat in that very office cursing me for getting to be at home where he wants to be. As I realised that, I realised that our jealousy was pointless and just causing arguments that we could never hope to resolve.
It’s so easy to take each other for granted, but even little bits of gratitude can go a long way to helping each other feel appreciated. Sometimes it can feel like one is doing all the work with little to no appreciation. Instead, try to remember to thank your partner for their help. It may seem insignificant or pointless to thank them for doing something that they should be doing anyway but a little praise goes a long way. She says, making a mental note to thank her husband for always doing the washing up…
Taking Time For Yourself
Book a massage, sneak a day off work but leave the kids in childcare, escape into the spare room with a book… however you go about it, reconnecting with your partner isn’t the only relationship that’s important to keep the romance alive. You need to reconnect with yourself as well. There’s nothing I love more than having a couple of hours to myself when the boys go to visit their grandparents; the peace, the opportunity to catch up on a TV show uninterrupted, the chance to just laze on the bed without having a little person leaping on top of me. Set yourself some guilt-free time to focus on you and do something that makes you feel good. Then do the same for your partner. As the saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup!