It took nine months of careful planning and preparation for you to meet your baby and just one minute to fall in love. Having a child is undeniably one of the greatest joys life brings, but it’s also an adjustment. For couples it means learning to parent, share their home, and even their bedroom in the first few months of parenthood.
There are books to read and laundry and chores to do—and there is much less time. Baby needs constant attention. Nights are busy with multiple feedings and mornings start early—very early.
So how do couples adjust to these new demands and still find time to nurture their own bond—sans baby? Below are five simple steps you and your spouse can take to keep the romance alive, after you have a child.
1. Make a date and stick to it
Chances are your schedules were busy before baby was born. Now you’re taking turns working, napping, cleaning, feeding, and caring for your little one. This means time spent as a couple is sacrificed. By setting a date to spend some quality time with your partner, you’re instilling a habit, which will have great benefits for both you, your partner, and your child. This may start as a simple coffee date down the street on Saturdays in between feedings when your babysitter or relative can stop by to babysit. Eventually when you’re able to leave your child for a couple hours, your date can evolve into dinner or a movie. If you can’t leave your children, plan for a special dinner once a week after they go to bed. Set a beautiful table and take turns cooking for each other or together. The idea is to make alone time with your partner a regular occurrence, one that is prioritized and doesn’t get bumped aside.
2. Take a romantic stroll during your child’s nap
Turn your child’s naptime into a romantic walk for you and your partner. The fresh air is good for your child while he is sleeping in the stroller, and you and your partner can enjoy a scenic stroll while having an opportunity to talk. Children sleep much better outdoors, and this can buy you up to two hours with your partner. Make sure the setting is natural so your child is not disturbed by high traffic noises or the lights and sounds of a busy mall.
3. Show your affection—just because
Remember when you used to call each other just to say “Hi”? That doesn’t need to stop. Nor do the love notes or text messages or showing your love—just because. Experiment with doing something loving for your partner once a week. This could be leaving a love note on the bathroom mirror or hiding a favorite treat in your spouse’s coat pocket. These acts of love and kindness don’t take a lot of effort or time, but they do show your partner you love him and you care.
4. Give your partner the day off
Okay so a whole day may be out of the question, but surely you can give your partner an afternoon to spend time with her friends or even just to have a nap, while you take care of baby. If your partner is home and you can tell she’s run down, offer to run her a warm bubble bath and surprise her with champagne and strawberries or a new book. These acts of service show your partner that you consider her time and needs important. More likely than not, she will return the favor.
5. Take five minutes to connect each day
It’s easy to lose track of what’s going on in your partner’s world outside of the home after your child is born. Conversations and attention tend to revolve around your children and not your spouse. Take at least five minutes each day to ask your spouse about his day and have him ask about yours. Make a habit of doing this at a time when you can give each other your undivided attention. Really listen without judgment when your partner is talking and try to put yourself in his shoes. You’ll be surprised at how a little empathy can go along way in keeping you both connected.
Time is precious when you become a parent. Your personal life suddenly seems non-existence and often you’re too tired to think of planning anything beyond your child’s next play date. However, making a habit of connecting with your partner on a regular basis can actually lessen the load and make the journey of being a parent much more enjoyable. Not only that, but your young children are exposed to parents who are affectionate with each other, happy to be together, and very much in love. This ensures that they have a good foundation and a model to build their own relationships in the future.
Natacha V. Beim is a writer, speaker, teacher, parenting expert, and the founder or Core Education & Fine Arts Junior Kindergarten schools.