8 Ways to have a great love life post kids
According to new and veteran mums, keeping your relationship alive is all about the little things.
As a mum of an almost two-year-old, I’m calling it: having kids is hard. Hard on your body, on your brain, on your career – and yep, on your relationship too. That said, in the past couple of years I’ve learned a thing or two about keeping your love for each other on a lukewarm simmer (decent presents on Mother’s Day, which incidentally is coming up this weekend, is a brilliant start). But you should also…
Validate each other
Compliments are great, but it’s the sitting-down-and-really-listening that counts more, say researchers – something I try to make a point of doing with my husband (even if I’d rather zone out, slack-jawed, in front of Masterchef). Mum of two Gabby agrees. “When we had 2 under 2.5 years old, we had no money to go out but once the kids were in bed we made ourselves have a half hour with no TV on, no phones and no iPads – we just talked together. Often it was about nothing interesting and sometimes I cried with how tired I was and he just listened and that made things better. I looked forward to those 30 minutes of uninterrupted time together so, so much.”
Go to restaurants
You won’t be gazing into each other’s eyes like you used to and other couples are going to hate on you if you cart your child with you, but it’s worth it to be out in the real world. Even if you have to eat at 5pm and take turns chasing your kid around the restaurant. Better yet, get a babysitter, says Andrea, mum of one. “It’s only been 4.5 months for us, but we’ve been good at leaving Jackson with my mum so we can have a lunch together every weekend. Even our short two-hour weekly weekend lunches feel like sufficient time to remember what we love about each other and keep us feeling connected as a couple. And we don’t always talk about the baby!”
Kiss and cuddle
As a parent it’s easy to transfer your affections to your kids. You’re knackered, they’re cute and bubba cuddles are bliss – then you wake up one morning and realise it’s been a week since you kissed your partner. No joke, a recent survey by the British Heart Foundation found that only 25 percent of couples over 45 get their smooch on more than once a week, and it lasts, on average, less than a measly five seconds. Eeek. Glenda, mum-of-three, is big on this one. “Don’t stop kissing – or saying good morning or goodbye. Plus the big pashes – take the time, even if you don’t feel like it – sometimes faking it – MAKES you feel like it!”
Pick your battles and say ‘I love you’ a lot
Even if it comes across like: ‘I still love you even though our kid is being a ratbag and I haven’t slept in 200 years’. Mum of three Sabrina agrees this is important. “We definitely make more of an effort than we used to to be affectionate and say ‘I love you’. When there’s no real couple time, those little gestures make a big difference.”
Go out alone together whenever you can manage it (even if it’s once a year)
Chances are it will take 4 wines and some salt’n’pepper squid to warm up and stop showing each other funny videos of the toddler pretending to be a dog, but date nights are worth every minute out of the house. “We schedule a babysitter every few weeks – and it’s always a nice treat to find a babysitter is booked in my diary and we can have Friday night dinner and drinks,” says mum-of-two Lorna.
Find new things to get excited about
Hopefully you like hanging out with your partner because you’ll be doing it a LOT when you become parents. Mainly on the couch. So get creative: think device-free nights, playing cards, cooking together or just sitting outside with a glass of wine and enjoying the rare silence of no one bickering or demanding a different-coloured sippy cup. For Jane, mum of two, it’s all about the TV marathon. “We have no real help nearby so our couple time when the kids are in bed is binge watching TV series. Just finished Vinyl and before that, House of Cards and the Walking Dead!”
Realise hotels – with or without your child – can rock.
We recently took the toddler to a hotel, which of course is all shades of wrong on your wedding anniversary – but room service, someone else making your bed and cleaning up, and the chance to put the kid to bed and catch up on all the movies you never see made our ‘romantic’ weekend actually quite blissful. If you can go one step further like Kate, mum of two, do it: “Our nanny stayed overnight for one night every six weeks when our kids were little. We’d go to a hotel and it was totally worth it to reconnect.”
Accept where you’re at in life.
This is so huge and I totally agree with mum-of-two Jacqui – craving your old life can become such a habit when you’re down and sleep deprived. “A happy relationship post kids is really about acceptance,” says Jacqui, “of where you’re at, how things are (for now) and that it’s a beautiful place to be. We often spend so much time and energy wishing things were how they used to be, that we don’t realise how amazing things are now, even if that amazing is sleep-deprived and full of poo.”
Happy Mother’s Day, everyone!
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