Having a relationship with your partner after kids. Challenging to say the least. We always seem to be looking for hacks, don’t we? We are forever searching the internet for hacks to get our kids to eat their veggies or somehow make that laundry pile smaller. But with the most important relationship of your adult life, you probably shouldn’t be ‘hacking’ at it.
Relationships with kids is hard for many, many reasons. Having children takes away our sleep, robs us of personal hygiene, and steals all of our money, our time, our sexual desire and our ability to have fun. It is very hard to recognise yourself after you become a parent, let alone connect with that person that you married or have been in a relationship with for awhile.
But because parenting is so hard, we need to do it as a team. And the best way to stay a team is to make sure that you set aside time to work on your relationship with your partner. Here are some great relationship tips for parents to help strengthen that relationship and make parenthood a little bit easier.
Relationship tips for parents
Try not to play the ‘Who works harder?’ game
No one ever wins this game. You are both working as hard as you possibly can and you are both exhausted. You need to ride this train together so don’t start fights with the other passengers that will probably serve no purpose except to make you both unhappy.
If you feel like you are doing too much and you need more help from them, then tell them. But don’t have this argument because nothing productive ever really comes from this.
For all the Mums out there having an overwhelming sh*t week – read this blog!
Schedule date night – but make them achievable
Another important relationship tips for parents is time together. Time together as a couple is the greatest step towards strengthening your relationship and one of the most important things for a successful partnership with kids. You don’t need to go out on long or expensive dates (but you certainly can if you want).
You just need to schedule time face to face, without screens or distractions, and open up the opportunity for talking, looking at each other, kissing and hugs and even possibly sex if you can manage it.
Get takeaway food at home and use candles, or play a board game or do a puzzle together. Even just sit down together a couple of times a week with a coffee and catch-up.
Schedule it in, but don’t make it so complicated that you never stick to the schedule. Find your own things that work for you and your partner. When you see this person every day you forget how little actual time you spend focused on each other, so make a point of making this happen.
Talk to each other and mix the topics up a bit
One of our key relationship tips for parents is communication. Communication is important, but there are a few ways you can take advantage of this:
- Keep your partner in the loop about any milestones your children achieve during the day, no matter how small.
- Discuss options and make decisions as a team.
- Listen to the things that your partner finds interesting or hear about their work and their day
- Talk about other things apart from children and work
- Ask each other bizarre questions that you’ve never talked about before. What is your partner’s favourite dinosaur? If you could banish one food from the earth forever what would it be? What superhero power would you like to have?
- Be honest about how you are travelling and what you need from him/her, and make sure that they get a chance to let you know this too.
- Take small opportunities to connect like leaving notes for each around the house or sending a cute text during the day. If something makes you smile, share it with them.
Let things slide
This means not getting upset about the little things that your partner does that really don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. As long as your baby is safe and you agree on the big parenting decisions like co-sleeping or breastfeeding then let it go when he leaves dishes in the sink or dirty nappies on the change table.
This also means choosing the other things in your life that you can let slide a little. Your house does not have to be spotless (or even tidy) and your laundry doesn’t need to be folded and put away; washed and thrown in a giant heap somewhere works just as well as drawers.
Use this mantra daily; ‘the people who love me will keep loving me no matter what my house looks like, and anyone who doesn’t isn’t worth worrying about.’ This isn’t a TV sitcom from the 50’s where your husband is bringing the boss and his wife around for dinner in order to get that big promotion; let the less important housekeeping stuff slide.
For some natural cleaning tips – check out our blog here
Right now, the minimum is just fine. That would also make a good mantra.
Back each other up
As soon as your kids can independently think they will start trying to get around the rules. As soon as you say something they don’t like they will go to the other parent for a more favourable answer. Practice saying this; ‘Whatever Daddy says, Mummy is going to say too (and vice versa), because we are a team.’
Support each other when external criticism comes in as well – if your parents have critical things to say about your partner then give him your support and the benefit of the doubt. If you are having serious doubts about anything aspect of your relationship seek advice from a trusted friend or better still a professional counsellor – don’t just bitch about your partner behind their back.
Ask for outside help
Stop being so proud, or stubborn. Stop trying to be supermum or keeping the grandparents away from babysitting because they only hype your kids up on sugar.
Ask friends or family to babysit so you can go out with your partner, or to cook a couple of meals for you so you can use that extra half an hour to go for a walk as a family.
You may not notice how often the people around you offer to help – start noticing and then take them up on this offer. And if they don’t offer, then just ask.
If you can afford it get a cleaner or meal service arranged for a short period, so you can reclaim some of the time saved for your relationship.
Children are marvellous at draining parents of everything good they have to give, leaving them exhausted grumpy shells by the end of the day, but don’t let this be the only side of you that your partner ever sees.
Take back small amounts of time and tiny moments of joy just for the two of you; it doesn’t have to be much. Sprinkle them throughout your day and you will start to see and feel a real difference.