Parenting can feel like a juggling act. Not only do you want your kids to have basic necessities, you want them to be happy and to learn character. Plus, things are always nicer if the house is tidy, the meal plan is made, and the grocery shopping is done. With all these details to worry about, it can be easy to let your relationship with your partner slip a little. You're hanging together by a thread to keep the household running. But your relationship isn't as fulfilling as it used to be. This kind of situation can be difficult for couples to work through, especially because life never slows down. But the good news is that, even with children, you can keep a happy and healthy relationship going. Here are five tips to help you work toward this goal.
1. Spend Time Together with the Kids
As parents of young children, it can be difficult to find time to spend together. So you need to make use of every opportunity! Often, parents take shifts watching the kids so that one parent can rest or work. But it is important to spend time all together as well. Take time on a beautiful summer evening to play outside with your kids. Pull out those strollers or bike trailers and hit the trail. Work out as a family. While these activities aren't the most romantic things you could do, they are certainly bonding. Simply seeing your partner's love and care toward your children will make you love them even more. And you will never regret the time spent together.
2. Schedule Time When you can Talk
Communication is vital for any relationship. But when you have young children to take care of, it is easy to go days without truly talking to each other. We have to actively schedule time into our busy days to connect. Set aside time to chat after the kids go to bed, or ask someone to babysit while you get out of the house for a while. Couples need to be comfortable going deep and sharing with each other. Even if you are busy, make sure you have time for good long talks.
3. Make it a Point to do Favors for Each Other
Partners should get into the habit of helping each other, even when it is not absolutely necessary. Sure, you may have a system already planned out - he takes the kids to kindergarten in the morning and she does the shopping. But it is time to go above and beyond. Randomly offer to take dishwashing duty for your spouse. Clean the bathroom without being asked. Bring your partner a snack or a glass of water unexpectedly. In a long-term relationship, it's the little things that count.
4. Give Random Compliments
It could be a sticky note on the bathroom mirror. It could be a random text in the middle of the day. It could be something non-verbal, like a good morning kiss or an extra squeeze when you get home from work. But your spouse needs to know that you love them. Even more, they need to know why you love them. Try to notice very specific things that you love about your partner. And then tell them. When you are in the habit of expressing appreciation and love to your spouse, your relationship will thrive.
5. Have Fun Together
Let's face it: life is stressful. As adults - especially as parents - it is easy to forget how to have fun. But having fun together is a crucial part of any relationship! It's time to kick back and have a good time together. Even if you can't get out of the house, there are plenty of (inexpensive) ways that you can have fun as a couple. Find a game that you can play while the kids are sleeping. Get dressed up and take pictures of each other. Do art together. If you in the mood for something totally goofy, do crazy make-up on each other (guys are not exempt!). If you can find someone to babysit for you, make the most of the opportunity! Do mini golf or get tickets to a concert. The possibilities are endless.
Having kids doesn't mean that you have to sacrifice your special relationship! If you are feeling completely overwhelmed, do not be afraid to ask for help. Therapists and counselors are there for you just when you need it most. Feel free to contact me directly. Although it takes a little extra thought and effort, couples can maintain a loving relationship even with kids on board!