Becoming parents is one of the most wonderfully life-altering experiences two people can go through together. But when two become three (or four, or five!) romance can fall very quickly down the list of priorities, as sleepless nights become ‘sleepless nights’ for a whole host of new reasons.
1. Schedule regular ‘date nights’.
Date nights are important for any couple in a long-term relationship, but even more so for parents. Try and block out time on the calendar at least once a month to go on a good, old-fashioned date. Get dressed up, hold hands, and remember that you are still the same two people who fell in love.
2. Talk, confide, reconnect.
Set aside a time each day — whether it’s once the kids are asleep, or in bed just before lights out — to talk. It doesn’t have to be anything deep or meaningful — perhaps something funny you read online or a weird dream you had the night before. Just stay away from anything that draws you back to mundanity — bills, the ‘to-do’ list, chores.
3. Physical togetherness is important.
Touch has such an enormous impact on our sense of wellbeing in relationships, and yet when we have children we tend to transfer all our affection to the new baby and it’s easy to neglect our partner. Even a night-time cuddle can be mission impossible if you share the bed with a wriggling toddler, so catch a physical fix when you can — a fingertip touch in the hallway, one hand through the hair whilst cooking together, a kiss that lingers a second too long when saying goodbye.
4. Keep things playful.
Nurture your own special «in-jokes» and rituals as a couple. My husband and I play a silly game, the rules of which have been refined over several years; every 24 hours, we race to tell each other (wherever we are, and using these exact words only) «I love you whatever you love me plus one — no returns!» It’s earned us some funny looks at the supermarket checkout, but it is something uniquely «us» that binds us together daily.
5. Give each other time off.
As much as we love our children, every parent needs time alone to recharge their batteries. Take it in turns to give each other some precious ‘me-time’ and your relationship and family will thank you for it. Hello Sunday morning lie ins!
6. It’s good to be appreciated….
….and even better to hear it said out loud. Often we don’t verbalise enough how grateful we are for the littlest things, because we assume they are too insignificant to mention. Make a conscious effort to express your gratitude regularly — even if it’s only to say «I love to see you reading to our son».
7. Turn off technology.
If you only have an hour before the baby wakes up again, make that hour count. If one or both of you needs screen time to unwind after the day, set a limit and then turn it off. Clear the toys away, light candles, put on some relaxing music and just «be», together.
8. Look at what we did!
Remember that your child is the most perfect physical embodiment of your love. Each evening once they’re asleep and the toys and the mess have been somewhat cleared up, take some time out together to look in on them, take a deep breath and whisper (very quietly) «we made him/her!»