Romance. It sure looks different from the day you married to the day you find yourself rocking an inconsolable babe in the middle of the night. We all know it but until you have kids it is really hard to understand how much it affects your marriage. Although children are a gift, you have to work at it to keep your marriage a priority. Dates are an obvious way to keep the romance alive, but it isn’t always possible to find or even afford a sitter.
Here are 5 tricks my husband and I have learned along the way to help keep the romance going even when kids make it complicated.
#1 Stroller dates
When we only had one child, my husband and I would strap our son into the stroller and we would walk around IKEA talking and dreaming. It was a perfect date. Our son enjoyed the scenic people-watching and we enjoyed the time *alone*. I know a couple who would load their kids into the car, with their jammies on, and grab take out. Then, they would drive around for a few hours while their children slept and they talked. They would often go to the state border! Whatever it takes to get alone time with your spouse, right?! I have friends who do date night’s in. We’ve done this before. You can get the kids to bed and make a special evening together watching a movie or baking cookies or insert you favorite past time. Find activities that are still doable while kids are sleeping or in a stroller or in a pack ‘n play. The point is to have adult conversations, dream a little, hold hands and date!
#2 Coffee Dates
We now have three kids and limited opportunities alone. We’ve started having coffee dates in the mornings. While the kids sleep, we sit in the family room sipping our home brewed coffee and talking. It’s not very glamorous but it is nourishing our relationship. Each morning, we are bridging the gap that having lots of kids and little time creates. I want to note that rhythm was very important in making this happen as well. Until I could guarantee the baby was going to sleep through the night, getting up early for coffee was not going to help our marriage! It may not be a coffee date for you and yours but find a DAILY activity that you can look forward to that provides adult conversation without the constant interruption of little ones.
#3 Resource free or affordable childcare programs
Couples need times when the kids have a safe place to be and you and your spouse have a place to be without them! In our area, both our church and a local non-profit offer Parent’s Night Out programs on a regular basis for a very affordable price. These are priority one in the Parker Household! We block our calendars on these dates. We know that our children will be well loved and cared for and we can have much needed time alone without breaking the bank! The kids have a wonderful time and my husband and I come back refreshed, more connected as a couple, and better parents. There is likely similar programs in your area. Sometimes, you just have to know where to look or who to ask.
#4 Schedule Time Together
I remember sitting in a MOPS meeting this past spring listening to a panel of women sharing their wisdom on how they kept their marriages alive while their children were little. The honesty and ideas that came out of that session were gold. The most priceless advice was to schedule time together both for conversation and intimacy. There will always, ALWAYS, be something or multiple little someones clamoring for your attention. You have to make the decision and steadfast commitment to date, get away without the kids, and remain intimate. It will not just happen. Put a big X on the calendar. Schedule reminders. Carve out times to make your relationship a priority. Having kids has a way of removing the spontaneity of all things romantic but please, still be romantic even if there has to be a big red circle on your calendar reminding you to be intimate with your spouse. I know there will come a time when scheduling quality time alone with your spouse won’t be so hard, but until then do what you gotta do!
#5 Ask for help
Whether this is your first baby or your fifth, you and your spouse just can’t do it alone. Family is not nearby but our church and life group have become our framily. If it had not been for the love, support, and willingness of our friends, I have no idea how we could have cared for our children, when our second and third child was born. We all need a village. Find yours! Plug into a church. Get involved in a small group. Get to know your neighbors. If you’re near family, please invite them into your life and resource the free babysitting! Connect with people who can help you keep your marriage a priority. Swap babysitting with other couples. Watch their kids one week while you have a date, then they can watch your kids while you get a date! You need this. Your spouse needs this. Your kids need this.
Romance with kids is tough!
Jon Acuff said recently: “Toddlers are amazing, but they are also a crisis. They never stop moving, like raptors constantly testing the boundaries of their containment for weak spots. Your life is upside down when you have young kids.” Let’s own the fact that kids make our marriage relationship difficult. You can, however, find ways to stoke the romance flames between spit up, meltdowns, and night terrors. It will get better. And it’s going to take work. Keep pursuing one another. Your definition of romance may need to change for a while but your love for one another doesn’t have to.
Your Turn! How have you kept the romance alive between raising littles and the every day demands of life? Comment below with your tips for finding time with your spouse!
Read the introduction here: Bringing Home Baby, Again
Read last week’s post here: How to Help Your Child Adjust to Baby
Having kids does a number on your social life. It brings the spontaneity and late nights to a screeching halt. And if they don’t stop, someone is paying for it in meltdowns and chaos. Join me next week as we discuss how kids change your social life!
Photo Credit: Rhonda Ramirez (header image), Captured Photography by Emily (content photo)