Maintaining a relationship post-baby takes a lot of time and energy, exactly what you’ve got f*ck all of right now.
Reuben and I decided way back when I started the blog several years ago that our relationship was something I would never go into great detail about on the blog. I see woman slagging of their partners online and this was something I never wanted to do. I see people discussing their sex lives opening, kudos to them but that’s not us. We like to keep some things private.
Reuben has been incredible since we first welcomed Baxter into the world, sure, like I was – he was scared. We were delving into the unknown, we were sleep deprived and we let it get to us. By the time we had Lily we were confident in what we were doing. We are certainly not experts, but we were much more clued up on what to expect (especially in the first 12 weeks). There have been rocky moments where we’ve yelled at each other and questioned or criticised each other’s parenting, but we still love each other.
When you have children, all your attention turns to them and you quite often forget that your relationship with your partner needs attention too.
I can count on one hand the amount of times that Reuben and I have been out without the kids on an actual date since having the kids and that’s pretty sad. With me working full-time (+ some) and him being at home with the kids it’s so easy to get lost in the day to day life. We have had countless offers from people to watch the kids while we spend some time together, but something always comes up. A kid gets sick, one of us get sick or we’re just tired. We worry about their routines being interrupted and we just worry too much.
After recently attending one of Reuben’s best friend’s wedding last weekend (he was a groomsman and I was the Photographer) it reminded how important love is, and spending time with each other. The past few years I have been so focused on so many other things – the kids, my work, housework that I have failed to make my relationship a priority. We’re too tired to have sex, we’re too tired to go out. We’re just tired.
My parents have a weekly date night that they do every week without fail and I am so envious. Between this and the wedding, we are both looking at things with a fresh perspective. We’re now spending quality time with each other once the kids go to sleep instead of doing our own thing (Reuben will do some work and I will do admin stuff on my blog/group etc.) and we actually look forward to it. Sometimes when you’re tired and your mind is cluttered, it feels like a bit of a chore or it can easily be put in the too hard basket but with a small shift in my mind – things are improving, and I am feeling really good about it. We became parents and that was it.
I thought I would put together a small list of things you can do to keep your relationship alive after kids! I mean hey, what would I know – haha. I am only just re-beginning the journey but have been reading about it a lot and thinking of ways to refocus.
Lower your expectations – yeah, those chores you asked them to do? They’re probably not going to get done. And if they do, it won’t be up to your standard. Unless you are part of a small percentage of women who have a partner who happily partakes in household chores – lower your expectations a little. I am told a lot that I need to lower my expectations, that I expect too much and to a ridiculous standard. I moan about how he hangs the clothes on the clothes horse. I mean does it REALLY matter? They’re still going to dry. It’s going to annoy the shit out of me, but I need to learn to lower those expectations and pick my battles.
Be appreciative – Reuben does a lot for me when it comes to the kids, the house may not be spotless, but the kids are happy and fed. Like everybody, we like to be told when we’re appreciated and that our work isn’t going unnoticed. So instead of telling them everything they’re doing wrong, focus on what they’re doing right and make it known.
Prioritize sleep – I know, it’s easier said than done but hear me out. Researchers think that one of the reasons the transition to parenthood might be hard on relationships is because kids wreak havoc on your sleep. When you’re low on sleep, you might find yourself feeling more irritable and hostile therefore reacting badly when something happens.
Talk – Sounds silly I know but how often do you two just talk, no kids, no distractions, nothing? I know us, it’s not often other than a quick call after work to see if we need anything from the supermarket. When Reuben and I first met we would talk on the phone (and in person) for HOURS! To the point I think one of us actually fell asleep one night. We would talk until we were so tired we could barely stay awake or until one of our phones died. Often when we talk now, it’s about the kids (obviously) but I think it’s so important to talk about other things, how each other is doing etc.
Make time for each other – As I mentioned earlier, having time together, away from the kids is important. No matter what comes up, make it happen.
I could carry on forever, but you guys get where I am going. I am using this post to hold me accountable because I am currently not doing half of these but with small changes, the two of us are noticing a big difference.
Being a parent is tough. Go back to basics, remember why you fell in love and prioritise alone time.
I am keen to hear what things you do with your partner to ensure you have some time away from the kids and keep your relationship alive?