‘Have kids’, they said. ‘It would be fun!’, they said. And most of the time this is true. You love your children more than your own life and watching them grow and discover the world enriches your life in ways that you could not have comprehended before.
How to keep the romance alive with children in the house
But ask any couple with kids and they will tell you that it also places massive strain on their relationship and keeping the romance alive with children in the house isn’t as easy as you’d think. Children take ALL your time – time that you would have spent on yourself and with each other before. Kids are a massive responsibility that never goes away. Even if someone takes them for a few hours, at the end of that period, they are yours again. Many young parents will voice the physical exhaustion that comes from looking after a baby the whole day and then not sleeping well at night as their biggest challenge. No wonder many marriages crumble under the onslaught.
But here is the thing. The biggest gift that you can give your child is a happy home. Investing time in your relationship is not a luxury, but an investment into your family’s foundation and future. And the aspect that you almost need to guard and cherish most is romance, because isn’t that what sets it aside from all your other friendships and family relationships?
Here are some tips for child-proofing your relationship and especially for keeping the romance running.
Your marriage comes first
Yes, you have heard me right. Not the message given by the whole world to parents, which is that your child’s needs come before all other. Your first responsibility is towards each other. That forms the foundation of all the rest. And this means that spending time and resources on your relationship is not a guilty pleasure, something that you are stealing from the kids. It is as important as any other aspect of their care. And remember that you are setting an example to them of what love and intimacy should look like.
Invest time in yourself
You cannot pour from an empty cup, so look after yourself first. Schedule some me-time, even if it is just a cup of coffee in the garden or taking a nice warm bath at the end of the day. Dad will need to look after baby for this time. As baby grows older you can extend this to an occasional ladies’ night out or a solo shopping expedition. Encourage your partner to do the same.
Also be sure to look after yourself physically. If you eat healthy and get some exercise you will look and feel better, which will automatically have a positive outcome on the romance in your relationship.
Budget for romance
You don’t need to spend a fortune to have some quality romantic time, but some resources will help. You may need to pay a babysitter, or pay for a meal or a movie. These are challenging financial times and many families’ resources are stretched. Even in better times its easy to spend all your money on your kids. So try to set some money aside for this purpose.
And if your budget is small, you can also make things happen. Why not pack a picnic lunch and go eat it under a tree in a park? The important goal is spending some alone time.
Learn something new together
While a monthly date-night is a great idea, you see each other on a daily basis. So why not start an activity that helps you to spend time together every day. Join an online cooking class, for example. Choosing and making new recipes together is fun and will lead to an activity that can easily become a chore (cooking) being something special in your house.
Make some plans for the future
Dreams are a big part of the magic of a new relationship – so much possibility of all that can be. We tend to so focus on the here and now that we completely stop dreaming, especially once kids arrive. So plan a trip, set provisional dates, open a savings account. You need to keep the anticipation going.
Focus on small gestures
Leave love note with his lunch, or perhaps throw her favourite chocolate in her handbag. Something small to remind each other that you are special and treasured.
You have many memories and special times as a couple, before you had kids. Dedicate an area to this, for example a photo wall or a display cabinet. Include photos that remind you of special times, or travel mementos and souvenirs. This will also give your kids understanding of what a happy relationship is and how it grows into a family.
Why do I name them such? Because not all your dates should be win-win, meaning something that you both want to do. Now and then, arrange something that one of you specifically wants to do. Go watch a movie that one of you really wants to see, or visit a show/event that’s not really the other one’s thing. You will get to know each other even better and will give the message that what each of you want really matters.
Touch each other more often
In a household with small children it’s easy to get so busy with the kids that you stop touching each other completely, unless it is the few rushed minutes available for foreplay before the baby wakes up. Remember when you started dating and couldn’t keep your hands of each other? Consciously make time for touch – hold hands, give a foot massage, give a hug in the passing. All this builds closeness and intimacy.
Know that sex is important
Relationships are built with different bricks – respect, friendship, love. But the cement that holds a marriage together is physical intimacy. So prioritise this and make it happen. If you invest in your relationship in ways like the ones mentioned above, physical intimacy will naturally also get a boost.
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In the early years when one is so busy with kids the responsibility of keeping a marriage healthy can easily seem like another task, and all the above may seem overwhelming. But knowing how to keep the romance alive with children in the house is worthwhile as it will help you with all the rest of what you have to achieve. So, communicate with each other and start working on what your relationship needs – you will reap the rewards!