The kids are squabbling, the dog is barking, the TV is blaring and someone just spilled milk on the rug. Makes the for the perfect romantic scene….
Homes around the country have variations of scenes like this playing out, with tired, over-worked and intimacy-starved parents who can't seem to find a moment of alone time with each other.
While life may feel like a chaotic madhouse, the two of you are in it together. Finding time to reconnect away from the kids can help remind you of how you got into this lovely mess in the first place, and why you wanted to share your lives together.
Different couples will find different strategies for getting some alone time, but here are some tips that might help.
Date nights, weekends without the kids, romantic outings… when we think of spending time with our partner, it’s easy to assume that it must mean a once-in-a-lifetime event. After all, it’s rare you get to unload the kids on someone else and enjoy time together. But don't postpone connecting with each other until an opportunity comes along. Find small opportunities to do so along the way. This might mean waking up earlier to prepare breakfast with each other. You might replace your daily jog with working out together at home. Or it could mean turning off devices for 30 minutes after the kids are in bed to talk about your days. Cherish the simple moments – they are more doable and count just as much.
Spontaneity is great, but also schedule time to be together. Mark it on your calendars, just like you would a work meeting or doctor appointment - it's just as crucial. It will give you something to look forward to and prepare yourself for. Use these moments to create traditions and memories, not an event you do once. Maybe it’s dropping the kids off at the grandparents for the day, once a month. You might commit to waking up 30 minutes earlier every day before the kids start theirs. Talk together to discuss what will work for you, schedule it and commit to it.
Start thinking of your babysitter as an investment. The $40 or $80 or $100 spend is worth it, if it means creating the space for a quality connection with your partner. Whether you hire a babysitter, ask your regular nanny or reach out to family or friends. Knowing you have an unlimited amount of time together will feel delightful, even if that time is simply spent sleeping in each other's arms.
Affection is shown through what we say, as well as what we do. Don't forget to thank each other and be kind, every day. When you walk into the kitchen and your husband is doing the dishes, say thanks. But also find ways to keep in touch in little ways throughout the day. Aim for three to five different points of connection throughout the day. Could be an email, a quick text change, a couple of short phone calls. It feels good to know someone is thinking about you throughout the day and wants to know about it. It's the little things like this that are the building blocks of a relationship.
Peek into any home after the kids are in bed and you’ll likely see couples in front of a screen, we tend to turn to our gadgets to decompress after a long day. This can be ok, in fact, many couples even bond over favourite TV shows, or work side-by-side on their computers. This is, in its own way, is a method to spend time with each other. But once in a while, close the laptop and leave the phone in another room. Make it a daily habit where for just the first 30 minutes you have with each other, share what happened in your day.
Weekends are hectic enough as it is, with social events and extracurricular activities. Rather than finding a babysitter during an already stressful time, schedule a day where you can both take the day off. The kids will be in school or with child care, leaving you with a whole morning and early afternoon to spend time together. Go to the beach, take a walk through the city, go on a long bike ride. And if taking a full day off just isn’t possible, how about a lunch or late afternoon coffee date?
By doing this, you serve as a positive role model for healthy family relationships and you show your children your partnership is sacred. When kids understand the importance of your time together, it not only provides you with the space and permission to give yourself the time, it will also instil this sense of understanding as they grow and navigate their own relationships.
It might not always be easy to do, but connecting with your partner is not only good for both of you, it's good for your kids. They get to witness and learn what it means to be in a healthy relationship. Finding time to be alone together simply makes life better. And there's no downside to that.