We can all agree: babies are the best. And they’re also a lot of work. You know, nappy changes and bottles and So. Much. Laundry. Lucky for the two of you, you’ve had the better part of a year to prepare. You’ve read books and written birth plans and practiced breathing exercises and tested out hundreds if not thousands of name combinations.
That laser-focus on the baby only intensifies once the baby, you know, actually arrives. And why wouldn’t it? You’ve got one job: to raise a human. It’s the biggest job of your life, and to call it consuming would be an understatement.
So, if you’re both focused on the baby, how do you still manage to focus on one another? The same way you focus on everything that’s important to you: by trying. We asked three moms how they and their partners keep their relationship alive and thriving.
Whoa, mama is it hard to keep the love alive after two energy sucking forms of life enter into the world at the same time. Laundry, food, cleaning, sleep... NOTHING is easy. So, what to do.
First:assign tasks. Kyle (husband) is in charge of the kitchen and packing lunches. I'm in charge of making sure we're not all wearing dirty clothes to work or school the next day. If you have an assignment, it's your job to make sure it happens. No fight, no stress.
Second: learn your love languages*. Do something that makes your partner feel loved, even if you aren't feeling loved. Its called being selfless and it feels good, promise
Third: if you're at your wits end, advocate for yourself to your partner. Don't sulk or yell or blame. Acknowledge that parenting is the actual hardest and be kind to your partner in crime.
Fourth (which is both most and least important): Dates. Date like you did when you first met. Go places you love, or places that are new, or go to the grocery store while someone sits on the couch while you nap. Try to find your way back to the normal you knew before those adorable little life suckers entered into your life. It's hard to prioritize, and you don't need to do it all the time, but the more you do the better you'll feel together, the more empathy and patience you'll have for each other, and most importantly, you'll remember you're not going through this alone*note, i have never read the book that talks about love languages, but I vaguely understand the concept.
Let's be honest, when baby first comes home the best show of love your partner can give you is to LET YOU SLEEP. And once you get your footing in the whole new-parenting thing, and the dust settles, you start to remember who you were before baby came. My husband and I made a pact, before our daughter was born, to remember to put our relationship first, and not forget ourselves. And here's how we manage to do that (most) of the time:
+ Be gentle with each other:You're both tired, over-worked, accomplishing more than you ever knew you could. Say sweet things to each other and don't lose your cool, even when you're crazy sleep deprived.
+ Be patient: When baby came home, the steamiest thing about our relationship was the fact that I showered. A real luxury, too. Give it time.
+ The small things count: We leave each other love notes all over the house. Written on the bathroom mirror (after said shower). On a grocery list. Texts to each other. Little reminders of love do wonders.
+ Keep your sense of humor: Things are different after kids, intimately and otherwise. Oh what's that? Finally got a quiet moment together? Light some candles, put on some music, and the baby monitor goes off (it's like they have a secret sense for it). Remember to laugh with each other.
+ Do activities without your partner: No really. All your conversations start to revolve around what baby ate, when she slept, and baby poop. Not exactly romance inducing. Go out with friends separately. Go to the gym alone. Have hobbies just for you. The space will give you time to breathe, perspective, and bring more to the table to talk about together.
+ Go on dates: Time alone without baby will be important too. You might not be able to do this at first, but once you're able and comfortable enough - go out just the two of you and do adult-only things.
+ Get creative: All the things that you did before were clearly great (hello, you have a baby). Trying new and unexpected things help you to see each other in a new (if not slightly bemused) light. Best case scenario you remind each other of how in love you are. Worst case scenario, you'll have plenty of new material for keeping your sense of humor alive. Win win.
Alex West Steinman
Mom to: #gingerbaby
We’re lucky to have family in town who like us (or at least like our kid), so date nights haven't been an issue. I'd argue my husband, Matt, and I have are even more adventurous since having a baby just to prove (to ourselves mostly) that we’re cool parents. We’ve been to concerts, tried new restaurants and explored some business ventures together all summer.
Sometimes it's just the two of us, but sometimes we bring Cooper. We love exposing him to different environments, people and cultures, and we've found it's made him a super flexible baby. He can sleep pretty much anywhere and lets everyone hold him. This comes in handy when I'm shopping and have to hand him to the young sales associate while I dig in my Mary Poppins bag for money, pacifiers, wine (jk), etc.
We’ve really hit the gas on our active lifestyle, as opposed to putting the brakes on our dreams. We want our son to see the world and our ambitions, so he can shape the world and his own ambitions someday. That might sound like a motivational cat poster, but our baby has made us better together.