Staying Connected with your Spouse after Kids
Lindsay Watkins, RD, IBCLC, Take Control Health Coach
May 15, 2020
A new baby is an exciting and busy time in life – the beauty and thrill of bonding love, first smiles, first laughs, and nurturing care. Exciting at first, new parents soon learn how challenging the first year can be. Sleepless nights, countless diaper changes, and an endless feeding schedule can be exhausting and overwhelming.
Whether you have one or more very small children, it’s usually hard on a relationship. The transition from a couple to a family is a big transition. Who has time for date night? Nevertheless, the family dynamic will be stronger and long-lasting if couples make an effort to communicate and stay lovingly connected.
Here are some tips to get you through the first weeks, months, or even years of child-rearing:
- Get out of the house without your baby! Even if it’s just to go to the gym together or grab a quick ice cream cone. If you don’t have a babysitter, ask a fellow mom-friend if you can start a weekly childcare swap. It is hard to leave your baby, but remember, time together will strengthen your relationship, and you’ll be better parents for it.
- Take evening breaks from electronic distractions. When you finally get the kids to sleep at night, put away your smart phones, computers, and television. Use this morsel of time to connect as a couple. Talk, and really listen to each other. Not only will it help your relationship, it will help your sleep! Studies show that winding down without electronic stimulation helps you sleep better.
- Stay physical. You may not be able (or want) to have sex postpartum, but there are other ways to connect physically. Try massages, kissing, snuggling, holding hands, and pillow talk. Physical intimacy reduces stress, builds trust, promotes chemistry, increases relationship satisfaction, and expresses love.
- Schedule time alone. You really need time for yourself, and so does your spouse. Sit down at the beginning of each week and schedule a little personal time for each of you. You’ll return to each other rejuvenated and ready to reconnect.
- Random acts of kindness. Make their favorite dessert, send a sweet text while they’re at work, put a little note in their lunch -- let them know they’re still important. Kindness begets kindness, so this could encourage a nice chain of reciprocation.
- Greet each other when you get home. When either of you return home, make a point to seek out and acknowledge each other. Even if you’re tempted to start rattling off a to-do list, or pass-off the baby for a much-needed break, start with a hug and smile. After long days for both of you, this small step can really go a long way!
- Have a date night in. After the kids get to sleep, consider staying up and planning something a little special. How about a backyard wine picnic, a movie date on the couch, or even playing board games. Here’s a great list of 32 Stay-At-Home Date Ideas.
Even if you can only manage one or two of these ideas, a little goes a long way. As you get used to this new life, it will feel less overwhelming and more feasible. Staying connected as a couple will help reduce resentment and increase both parents’ abilities to work as a team as you navigate this journey.