by Dr. Jennifer Gibson
Although many of your friends and family told you that children “change your life,” you really don’t know exactly what this means until it happens. Parenting is not easy, and neither are committed relationships. The change from pre-kids to post-kids can be difficult, especially on your relationship. Before kids, you and your partner likely spent plenty of time together talking, going out, exploring new places, and enjoying your sex lives. After kids, you may find yourself talking only about baby routines and activities, staying in, and finding sex an afterthought. Here are some helpful ideas to strengthen your relationship post-kids:
1.) Schedule time to talk about non-baby issues.
This may take some practice, as you will find yourself going back to baby-related topics, naturally. Listen to one another and reflect on each other’s experience to build connection again. Focus on the reasons why you fell in love, and find ways to stay close, like talking on the phone throughout the day, holding hands, or sitting close to one another.
2.) Schedule a date.
Ask a friend or relative to watch your baby(ies) for a few hours so you can go to dinner or the movies, just like old times. Steer conversation away from your baby(ies). This does not need to be at night, this can be an afternoon. If you have older kids, take a day off while your other child is in school and have someone watch the baby(ies); this can be a fun stay-cation for the two of you. Or, you don’t have to actually go out, but create an experience at home. If you choose to stay at home, be sure to remove laptops, phones, and baby-related chores from view!
3.) Reignite your sex life.
One of the best ways to reignite your sex life is to plan time for having sex, just like you might have done before kids, even though you may not have been aware of it. Prior to going out, you would do things to make yourself attractive to your partner. Get in that mind set again. There are many specialized stores who carry post-baby lingerie.
4.) Take some time for yourself.
Time alone for both you and your partner helps you each feel more energy to parent and work on your relationship. Check in with each other at the beginning of each week and figure out when each of you will take some time alone. You’ll return to each other rejuvenated and ready to parent and reconnect as partners.
5.) Remember your partner is your friend.
It is important to remember that you like and love your partner.
Even if you are tired or frustrated, responding to your partner as a friend will help your relationship.
It is important to remember although you are a parenting team you are also both on a unique parenting journey.
It is important to be curious, understanding, and supportive about one another’s experience.