Every couple knows that having kids changes your relationship with your partner. The energy and effort you used to spend on your marriage shifts to your little ones overnight. It’s easy to get caught up in your kid’s needs and busy schedule while continuing to push aside your own well-being and your relationship. And, let’s be honest, women especially know that the mom guilt is real.
But your title as parent does not have to diminish your connection with yourself and your partner. In fact, psychologists say that nurturing your relationship actually has positive effects on your kids. “Kids whose parents’ relationship has cooled are more likely to have behavioral or academic problems than kids of happy couples,” says Philip Cowan, PhD, who has studied families for decades at the University of California. “Even if you can’t see yourself going out on a date for yourselves, do it for your kids.”
Here are a few tips for how to prioritize your relationship and manage family life at the same time:
1. Take a day off together.
While you may not have the time or money for a kids-free vacation, that doesn’t mean you can’t take some time for the two of you. Take a mini-vacation by calling off work one day so that you can spend some one-on-one time together. Spend the day lounging around the house relaxing or out doing something fun you can’t normally do with the kids around (like a fancy meal or a trip to the movies). Either way, you’ll get some much needed one-on-one time with your spouse.
2. Make nighttime your time.
After the kids go to bed every night, make use of the few nighttime hours before bed to bond with your partner. This is a great time to do the simple things like catching up on how work is going or cuddling up to your favorite tv shows together.
3. Re-evaluate your kids’ schedules.
It’s natural to want to give your kids every opportunity possible to explore their interests. But it’s important to remember that it’s not possible to do everything. Take some time to sit down with your partner to go over your family’s schedules. Is it possible to do everything that everyone in your family wants to do? Are you prioritizing the kids’ time to the point where you have no time for yourselves? Remember that it takes a lot of time and energy to transport your kids to and from their activities. You are only human and cannot do everything, and it’s okay to reevaluate your schedules and find a balance that works for everyone.
4. Support each other’s solo time.
In order to bond with each other, it’s important that you each get the solo time that you need to recenter yourself. Work together and take turns watching the kids so that you each can get the alone time you need every week. Whether it’s going to the gym for a hour or having some uninterrupted reading time, everyone needs their own space. Ensuring that each of you gets their own space allows for a happier and healthier relationship overall.
5. Prioritize date night.
Alone time with each other is key for continuing a strong connection with your partner. Make date night a priority. It doesn’t matter how often you do it. You can schedule a date night weekly or once a month, as long as you have some time set aside for each other. Hire a sitter or drop the kids off with one of your parents or a family friend. Date night doesn’t need to be pricey either. Check out some of these ideas for fun and cheap nights out.
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By Brittany A. Hamilton, former Sittercity sitter