Let’s jump right in to this one!
I think as parents of small kids, times can be not so lovely for stretches. With the hum drum of daily life, sleep deprivation, and responsibilities…life can get the best of us. And while we wouldn’t trade our babies for the world, there is stress that inhibits even the best laid plans. In the midst of it all, we just become bodies that need to be utilized for all our energy. All the strength for laundry, cooking, cleaning, cradling a screaming baby, etc. (the list could go on and on and on).
Parenting is a thankless job.
We’ve all heard this, and if not, you heard it here first. This fact ^^^^ in a nutshell is what makes it so draining! And because we are drained from giving the babes all we’ve got, we often find ourselves having little left to give each other. Therefore, we have to realize that we are living in a season that requires us to give way more than we receive.
If we can understand that, we can try and be that reprieve for each other. It’s hard, if not impossible, to dig up energy after long days and nights, BUT to connect with each other is CRITICAL! We must take the time to communicate. Make a standing time to talk and catch up, whether it’s in the morning before the day starts or the night when the day is over.
Remember who you were before.
Before referring to “before kids”. Who were you? We forget a lot of times. Many go through an identity crisis after having children. This isn’t to say that children destroy your life. Far from it! They definitely make it better, but everything worth something must cost something too. And the life you had before kids is never again.
But here is the crux >> although you inevitably change when you add Parent to your title in life, you still have the same passions, you still have the same ticks that make you who you are, the same buttons that push certain reactions. Take the time to remember these! What gives you that extra “Umph” in the morning, what puts a smile on your face, or gives you that excited fire in your belly? These will most certainly include what you find so intriguing and special about your Baby Daddy (Mama).
Make time for those. Make time for your relationship. Give it all you’ve got, just like you give to your children. Your lover is just as intertwined with your joy has your babies. Plus, your babies are most cared for and loved when they are surrounded by a healthy example of just that. To beat the 50 percent, you must work at it.
Help each other constantly.
In this season of child rearing, don’t even ask “Can I help you with something?”, just know you need to ALWAYS be helping each other with something. The chores around the house do become priority to most everything else or you will be drowning in Legos and cracker crumbs. So, make it a point to help where you see the slack (trust me, it will be obvious). We never operated on any type of schedule before kids when it came to chores. The only thing that had a standing day/time was the rolling of the trash can to the road for Pick-Up Day. Apart from that one chore, it’s been a free-for-all.
I’ve began to notice that possibly making a schedule would be a great help to us. For instance, doing a load of laundry every day. This possibly could eliminate having to do 3 or 4 on Saturday, and than taking a month (haha, truth speak) to fold it all.
I have established certain routines in the evening that I pretty much stick to so that the next day can start as much on the right foot as possible for me mentally. One main thing is getting the kitchen to a tidy point. I very much like waking up to a clean kitchen!
Make a chore list or a daily chore checklist, whatever works for your personality and give it a try! Keeping an organized home will do wonders for you mentally. There will be that much less to argue over, and house things tend to creep into the majority of arguments when the kids are small because you’re there more and kids come with A LOT of baggage, literally!! The overwhelm of house work in conjunction with raising kids can become so overbearing.
Keep the cliche, “there is no I in team” at the forefront, it could not be any more true than in relation to parenting! Don’t work against each other because no marriage will feel safe or strong with such a divide. An incredible habit to help this struggle is to have devoted prayer time together. This is a time where you can discuss and reveal what you may be harboring. Lay it down before the Lord together, and remain a united front to what is happening in life all around the family.
This is a biggie! If you didn’t have patience prior to children (like me), you will have some strong growing pains in this manner. You have to learn to go with the flow, and understand that what was before is most certainly going to look different now.
For example, date nights. I’ve realized with baby no. 2 , Adam is desiring much more alone time between us because it has become that much more rare. Trust me, I long for it too but I’m engulfed in the nurturing, care taking role because I do it all day long with the kids. It’s harder for me to separate myself from that role and feel comfortable enough to leave for hours at a time. I know it’s imperative that we make that time for each other, and I do feel the pressure of that. The sweetest thing Adam has done is acknowledge my perspective because it shows he really gets what I may be feeling.
The other day he proposed that we take our toddler to the grandparents and go out for a date, but take the 8 week old with us. He knew that I wasn’t ready to leave her just yet, so he tried to figure out a work-around. She’d probably sleep the majority of the time and we could still have that QT together. It would be easier for me to be present not having to be worried about getting back.
Figure out ways to incorporate those moments just between the two of you. It’s not going to look the same and it will most definitely take more effort. From planning in advance, coordinating child care, and determining what will make the most of your time, you have to be active in making it happen.
I know just from talking to friends of mine that they feel they don’t have any extra time once the kids are involved in activities outside the home. BUT THIS IS NO EXCUSE! There are ways to be efficient, remember BE FLEXIBLE! You may have to go grocery shopping or make a post office run or shop for school clothes…but the beauty is that it doesn’t matter. If you are alone, you get to experience that connection with your significant other because you have each other’s attention.
Put in the effort to have that one on one time, and the reward will nourish your relationship tremendously.
Don’t take everything so serious. Once I had children, my concept of time dramatically shifted. The hours are long but the days are short. Time goes by so quickly. There isn’t much to waste, so do your best to appreciate your life and make each day as enjoyable as possible. Incorporate dance parties, technology free dinners (or weekends!), weekend getaways, picnics in the yard, etc.
Break up the monotony. What did you find fun as couple in the very beginning, bring those back. They may be a little different, but the core can be the same. If you loved trying new restaurants, find new interesting recipes and cook together, maybe even after the kids are in bed.
If concerts were a wonderful past time, create a challenge to find a new artist and every Friday night, make it music night where you listen to what you found together.
Life is fun, don’t get lost in the mounds of work, schedules, chores. Be present! If there are things in life that are keeping you from experiencing life, start trying to make that change. Kids are only small once, it is stressful and there isn’t any way to deny that. BUT, these are the years you will look back on with fondness. When your kids wanted nothing more than your attention, hugs and kisses. When they see you and come running for your embrace. The bond you develop with your children at this stage in life is priceless! And it can be just as priceless for your marriage, you just have to work at it!
This Bible study was a great resource to me when I first got married, check it out (affiliate link, read full disclosure here.)!