You’re a new parent. You and your partner have created a whole new human (or even more than one). But what does that mean for your relationship with each other? Babies and children bring a host of changes into your life. From the obvious physical changes from giving birth, hormonal changes in everyone, sleep deprivation, lack of free time right down to financial pressure, there are suddenly a range of new stressors on even the most solid relationship.
Building time for your relationship into this can be difficult. Firstly there are practical issues of getting time together without the children. Small babies can be hard to leave with other people, especially if they are breastfed, and many families don’t have the luxury of regularly available babysitters. Once you do claim some time together you need to find an activity which suits you both, and fits into any time or budget constraints you have!
What Can You Do?
So what ways can you reclaim some romance? We asked lots of parents what suggestions they had, and here are the ones we liked!
Get all the children asleep somewhere, even if with you, and snuggle up together to enjoy a film. No babysitters required and cheap too!
Say yes to all offers of babysitting you are comfortable with – family, friends or professional (perhaps not the random woman off the street though) depending on what you are happy with. If you can grab even an hour, going out for a walk, a bite to eat or a trip to do something you enjoy can be a wonderful way to reconnect. Lunchtime ‘dates’ can be easier to organise and you might be more awake to enjoy the company!
Keep talking to each other. In the press of the day to day challenges of being parents it can be easy to forget to tell your partner what’s going on with you. Find ways to communicate which work for you! Bottling things up can lead to incredible explosions down the line so honesty and a willingness to listen and move on can be valuable tools.
Therapy can be useful in aiding communication whether or not you feel like you are struggling. Whilst it is often considered something you do as a last resort, many techniques can be valuable to everyone.
Think about what you do appreciate about one another – and tell each other too! Yes it might just be ‘I’m grateful that you washed those clothes’ or ‘I’m grateful you recognised I was about to lose my shit and stepped in’ but it’s still good to hear.
Ignore things said at 2am! Sleep deprivation can be a huge drain on everyone. And in the midst of the 17th wake up you might feel like the person getting the sleep should bear some of the brunt of this too. Let middle of the night arguments slide in the light of day!
Sometimes you will both need time alone, away from the kids and each other. Give yourself some space, and give your partner that space too. Sometimes this means things like not sleeping together if that helps everyone get more rest, or using time you ‘should’ (still hate the word) be together to do something alone. Find the rhythm which works for you.
Jobs you both hate doing? Can you have a cleaner or other jobs taken care of by someone else? If money is not an issue sometimes this small thing could make a world of difference to keeping a household running smoothly (nothing says romance more than mopping the floor right?!)
Give Yourself Time
Always remember that relationships are between two people and both parties need to want to be in them. But also that both parties can change, and children can be a huge change. Sometimes relationships come to an end, and that can be right. Sometimes they need some breathing space. Sometimes they need therapy. There is no right answer here.
Relationships take time and effort, and as parents our time and effort are usually being directed at the kids rather than those around us – which is entirely normal. Whatever path your relationship takes, keeping those lines of communication open and honest is likely to be the best way to reclaim the romance. And cut yourselves a bit of slack if your babies are very new – it will change. They will sleep (maybe!)