Having children changes the entire dynamic of your house. As much as we love our little bundles of joy, they take over and demand so much from us as parents that we may sometimes forget to be a couple. The memories of the times we had before becoming parents are distant, and we begin to live past each other instead of with each other. But good parenting means putting your marriage first sometimes.
Here is some advice for couples who are feeling the strain of balancing their marriage and having children:
- Date night
It sounds like some romantic fantasy: dressing up and going out to eat dinner in a restaurant with real plates and cutlery, where you’re only going to have to feed yourself and not a demanding toddler as well, and where there is time to have a grown-up conversation. But it can be reality every now and then.
Schedule a date night. Take turns to plan it. Make the most of the time you have together to catch up and reconnect. It doesn’t have to be a hugely expensive production, just a simple gesture of your caring for your partner. Don’t feel guilty for enjoying it and looking forward to it.
- A weekend off
Once you’ve been convinced that you can be separated from your kids for an entire evening without the world coming to a crashing halt, you can be even braver by taking on a weekend away together as a couple.
You’ll need to plan thoroughly so that you have babysitters to take care of the little ones. Try to put as much of your focus as you can on your partner while you are away together. There’s no sense being somewhere else but still so preoccupied with your children that you can’t enjoy being together.
- Be strict about bedtime
During the week, the best you may be able to hope for as a couple is a bit of time together after the kids have gone off to dreamland. But we know our kids well, and the 45 minutes of procrastination they’ll embark on the minute you mention bedtime.
Protect your quality time with your partner by having a set bedtime for your children and enforcing it strictly. Children aren’t damaged by routine. They actually crave it. Once the kids are down, spend some time with your partner. Indulge in some adult conversation, or a ‘rendezvous’ if it takes your fancy.
- Tone down the tech
When you and your partner get to spend some alone time together, don’t waste it staring at the screen of your cell phone, tablet, or computer. Make a conscious effort to put the tech devices one side and focus on each other. Have meaningful face to face conversations. They’re more important than social media and surfing the web.
- Set up a family calendar
When you have children, managing everyone’s schedule can be challenging. Get a calendar to put on the refrigerator. Write down every family member’s commitments. That way, if you have no other way, you and your partner can schedule time together as a couple.
It’s easier to stick to a schedule when it’s written down, so take the time to put it all on paper and have it on view for everyone.
- Have a support system
It is vital to have a good support network of friends and family that you can call on from time to time when you and your partner need a break or when you are spending scheduled alone time together.
You must feel that your children are safe when you leave them in someone else’s care. Otherwise, you won’t be able to enjoy the time you spend together and focus on one another. Let people help you. The mythical parents who can do everything all the time don’t exist. You cannot manage it all, and you don’t have to.