A good marriage is a gift to your children.
I’ve been there! Young children are so precious (most of the time). They are also so much work. It often feels like they take up every second of your day. Finding time to shower, let alone connect with your spouse can seem impossible. One of the best gifts you can give your children is to know that, mommy and daddy love each other very much. So, if you’re one of those that struggles with guilt as you take time for yourself, think about the gift you’re giving your children. It is also a gift you give your spouse and yourself. Although these little people need a lot of time and attention, your spouse still needs to be #1 in your mind and heart. He or she needs to know and feel that they are #1 in your life too. Making your spouse a priority is healthy for the whole family.
Here are some tips to make time to connect with your spouse.
Each couple needs to find what works for them, but hopefully a couple of these ideas can be tweaked for your situation.
Make it a priority to put the kids to bed on time.
Create time for you and your spouse to talk and hang out after the kids are in bed. It doesn’t have to be a long time, if you’re exhausted too, but having even 30 minutes can go a long way in staying connected and supporting each other. You could also get up earlier and have coffee together or even put on a show after dinner and go to another room to have a few minutes to connect. Finding time while the kids are asleep is ideal, both because you’re less likely to be interrupted and I’m not a big proponent of a lot of screen time for kids. However, if you have to choose between couple time or no screen time, I do think your kids will greatly benefit from mom and dad having a healthy marriage.
Trade date nights with friends.
If it’s too expensive for a sitter (or you just don’t want to leave your precious ones with a teenager) and there’s no family to help out, ask friends to trade date nights. My husband and I have even traded overnight dates with friends. You know your kiddo’s are in good hands and yes, there is a cost, but it doesn’t come out of your bank account. Plus, having a couple extra kiddo’s at your house could even entertain your own and give you a bit of a break…depending on on age and temperament.
Talk or text during the day.
It can be a simple text that says, “I’m thinking about you” or a 5 minute conversation to check in or share an important part of your day. Staying in touch during the day can be a simple way to feel connected and close.
Run errands together.
I know it’s easier to leave one person home with the kids, while the other runs around (and there are many valid reasons to do it this way), however, whenever possible take the extra effort to strap the kids in and pack some toys for the back seat. You would be surprised at the conversations you can have driving around and going in and out of stores. I know on one hand it’s more work and you may not always get the chance to chat in the front seat, but doing things together is still a way to connect.
Join a gym that has childcare and work out together.
I’ve heard from many parents that their kids love the child area at their gym. It’s a win/win. Your kids get to have a great time playing (and it’s not like you’re leaving them for a long time), and you and your spouse get some mommy and daddy time while you’re doing something healthy for your physical health and mental health.
Don’t let your kids form a habit of sleeping in your bed.
I know there are many different philosophies about kids sleeping with their parents. I’m not going to delve into those. If you think it’s really important to co-sleep with your baby, then do that, but have an exit age. If your kids just end up in your bed out of convenience and habit, find a way to train them to sleep in their own bed. Of course, there’s the importance of finding a time and place for sex. Having conversations before bed, no matter how long or short can be important too. Getting to kiss your spouse goodnight or cuddle before you go to sleep is also a good way to connect. All of these need a space without kids in the middle.
Make time for sex.
Lunch break sex? Early morning? Late night? During your kids favorite show on Saturday or a quickie in the shower. I know you’re exhausted and sometimes sex is the last thing on your mind. Regardless of who has the stronger sex drive, both of you need sex to stay connected. Have fun being creative and figure out how to fit it in.
Go on family walks.
Put your little ones in a stroller or let them ride their bike or scooter around your neighborhood. While they are occupied you can admire your cuties together and hopefully get in a little adult conversation. It may be even easier to take the kids and their rides to an empty parking lot or school and let the kids play safely while you two sit on the sidelines and chat.
All these ideas won’t work for everyone, but I hope at least on or two can help you to make some time to connect with your spouse. It’s healthier for your family and it’s fun too! Remember although your little ones are precious and so important, your spouse needs to be number one, not your kids.
Do you have an idea that has worked for you and your spouse? Please share it in the comments. I’m sure there are other couples that could benefit from your experience.