Before actually having a kid, Jo and I would envision what our life would be like with a little one. Let’s just say that the reality included a lot more domestic duties, a lot more arguing, a lot less money, and a lot less sex. Just keeping it 100 – staying close after baby was waaaaay low on the totem pole. It’s so sad to say, but true.
We got to a point where we realized that the relationship wasn’t working. When we did try to strengthen our relationship, the concept of date night kept coming up. So here’s the thing. Our immediate family is spread across four different states and Jo and I are the lone wolves here in New York. Date-night is not a thing unless we have guests visiting. We’re also not the type of parents who feel comfortable having a stranger watching our kid. So I started to google “staying close after baby” and I found some solutions that helped to bring us together again.
The Struggle is Real
Just to set the record perfectly-straight, having a child is a full-time job. Full stop. I don’t need to explain to you the challenges that come along with caring for a kid. You get it. But what about your other baby; your partner. As parents, we give so much to our kids and our careers, that we barely have time for ourselves, let alone our partners. Talk about back burner, baby.
Cue on some dramatic music and let me set the scene. So you had a very demanding and exhausting day at work. You’re finally off and you’re ready for a bath and wine, but now it’s time to put on your parenting uniform. You feed the kids, play with them with the little energy that you have left, bathe them, and get them ready for bed. After the little heads a sound asleep, are you completely re-energized and ready to spend some quality time with your partner? My guess is probably not.
At this point in the day, if your partner is looking for attention and care from you, you’re most likely not in the mood to give it. If this is a regular thing, you may begin to feel like your partner is “too needy” and it’s just like taking care of another kid.
Oftentimes we get overwhelmed and then we blame our partners for having needs. One thing that is important for us to understand is that the real problem isn’t that our partners have needs. Giving and receiving care is an act of love. We need to find ways to manage our time and emotions so that when we do have a few alone moments with our partners, we’re fully present.
Getting Back on the Horse
One solid starting point for staying close after baby is to do a relationship audit. It’s a way for you to clearly gauge where you are as a couple and pinpoint what the areas of growth are. I’m not going to go deep into the how to do an audit because there are lots of great resources online. There is no one way to do a relationship audit. The most important thing is to make it your own.
People don’t stop being people when they have a baby, they just become parents. It’s not only important to prioritize “we-time,” but it’s equally as important to have “me-time.” You need to space to re-energize as a couple and as an individual. This will look different in each partnership. In my relationship mine “me-time” can be as simple as one of us going to the gym alone, or maybe even waking up early to go to a coffee shop to read a book. It doesn’t have to be an extravagant ordeal, but find a way to make it happen. My biggest advice is to be vocal when you need a break. Don’t just push-through because it’s what you have to do. You also have to grocery shop, so maybe do it solo just to get a moment alone.
As every relationship resource likes to preach: have a regular date night! This is where the “we-time” comes into play. You’ve taken some time for yourself, now it’s time to make sure that you and your partner are reconnecting and staying close after baby. I’ve already mentioned that Jo and I don’t regularly go out for date-nights, but it doesn’t mean that we don’t have date-night at all. We have dates at home. You’re probably like “wtf, this lady is off!”
Here’s an example of a recent at-home date-night: I created an e-vite inviting Jo to a midnight picnic. He had NO IDEA what to expect, but he was looking forward to it all week. On the day of the event, after Camille went to sleep, I set-up a picnic blanket with picnic eats and wine. I’d purchased board games and we even did a fun retro-cosmopolitan-like couple quiz. Guys, it was so much fun.
Just because we have restrictions when it comes to having date-night, doesn’t mean that we just give up. We adapt. I’ve gotten so many really great date-night at home suggestions from The Dating Divas. If you do have the opportunity to go out regularly, do it. While you are on your date (at home or out), be on your date. Limit distractions (aka, your phone). All work emails, calls, and shows will have to wait. The world will continue to turn as you make an investment in the health of your partnership.
Be creative and patient as you and your partner work on staying close after baby. If this is something that you and your partner are committed to making work, it will work. Wishing you lots of love!