Romance after kids

Romance: How To Keep It Alive After Baby

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.

Have kids? Here are some tips on how to stoke the romance flames between spit up and night terrors!

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

Next Week! 

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)

Although your heart multiplies with each darling bundle of joy, your time is divided exponentially. This is why developing a new rhythm that works with your new family dynamic is so critical. It’s not going to come overnight, but you can find a pattern of life that works for your expanding family! Here are 4 tips to help you on your quest for a new family rhythm!

4 Practical Tips for Gaining a Routine After Baby

Life before baby was different. You managed your finances a certain way. You spent your free time doing things you wanted to do when you wanted to do them. Then baby came along and changed the money priority, the activity priority, the leisure…okay there’s no leisure now. It’s another person fighting for your time and attention. It gets even more difficult with the addition of a second or third or more! Although your heart multiplies with each darling bundle of joy, your time is divided exponentially. This is why developing a rhythm that works with your new family dynamic is so critical. It’s not going to come overnight, but you can find a pattern of life that works for your expanding family!

Here are 4 tips to help you on your quest for a new family rhythm

#1 Take it slow.

Take it slow. If you hear nothing I am saying, hear this: I beg you, implore you, plead, admonish, strongly advise that you take it slow. Very. Slow. Receive the meals for as long as they are offered. Eat take out when they stop. Do whatever it takes to stay sane in the early weeks and months postpartum. The mommy guilt can be strong with this one.  We didn’t take it slow and this still lives on as our biggest parenting fail to date. And it happened with every single birth! We tried to bounce back way too quickly. You can read about that adventure here but here’s the short of it: I went back to work too quickly. I literally wore my third child through an entire summer of working because I loved what I was doing so much, but it would take me 5 hours to do what I could do in 30 minutes with a good night’s sleep and good childcare. Neither of which was available. Bless my little heart! Please. Learn from my stupidity. Take it slow.

#2 Look for natural emerging patterns

As life begins to stabilize, take some time to observe your family and your daily activities. Observe what is happening on a daily basis without any amount of mind power. For example, our dinner was consistently on the table about an hour later than our normal dinner time. So dinner time changed. When we brought home our third child, my husband started taking the older two children to school on his way to work. It was meant to be a temporary fix out of necessity, but it turned into a new rhythm for our family.  Often these patterns will appear to be failures. Did you notice that you have cooked grilled cheese every Wednesday for a month? Instead of looking at it as a nutrition fail, look at it as a pattern that you and your family can rely upon. Grilled Cheese Wednesday it is! Instead of beating yourself up over things that are not the same, celebrate the new constants that are forming. Find sustainable patterns and rock them, momma!

#3 Be Willing to Experiment

Getting your children on the same schedule is not easy. It will require some give and take and some serious trial and error. Coordinating naps was such a beast for me. For a while, I was putting one child down for a nap just in time for another to wake up. I treasured the one-on-one time but I didn’t have any time for laundry, rest, or creativity. I was exhausted. Through experimentation, I was able to get all three kids on the same schedule. Remember how my husband was taking the kids to school? We added early care so he could get to the office earlier which meant he arrived home earlier. All the mommas say “hallelujah”! We also simplified our menu. We made a list of easy to execute meals and a list of all the grocery items needed. We posted it to the fridge and followed it as best we could. Even now, we have a 7 day menu that we repeat every week. We literally eat the same thing each week. Tuesday really is Taco Tuesday in our house. Is it boring? Yep. It’s working now, too. As the kids return to school in a few weeks, that will probably change, but heeding the advice of tip #1 above, I will be taking it sloooooow!

#4 Ask for help and Don’t Feel Bad About it

I recently heard an interview with Shauna Niequest where she said of seeking help: “Most of us have a deep well of people who would love to care for us but we don’t let them because we don’t think they’ll catch us.” When I had an unexpected C-section with my third child and everyone got sick at the same time, I reached out because I was so scared. I just couldn’t handle it. I HAD to ask for help. The most amazing thing happened when I did. Friends and framily came out of the woodwork to help bring meals, clean my house, and take our kids on adventures so mommy could sleep. One precious woman would text me every week and say: “I am on my way to Kroger. What can I pick up for you?” Do you know how humbling it was to ask for help? It took some major pride swallowing but the gift of love and support was so overwhelming it made dying to my highfaluted opinion of myself truly worth it. Having a baby is life-altering. Give yourself grace.

Although your heart multiplies with each darling bundle of joy, your time is divided exponentially. This is why developing a new rhythm that works with your new family dynamic is so critical. It’s not going to come overnight, but you can find a pattern of life that works for your expanding family! Here are 4 tips to help you on your quest for a new family rhythm

Change Happens

I am not a loud person. Having three kids, however, has made my house a loud place. The laundry piles up weekly and that drives me nuts. The minute I say I have mastered a system for the dishwasher the dishes mysteriously appear overflowing in the sink. Dear precious mommy, be okay with the laundry piles even though you swore that you would do a load a day. Give yourself a break if you are still depending on take out when you really thought you’d be well on your merry organic way by now. Family rhythms are as unique as musical rhythms. Sometimes the tempo is fast and upbeat and other times it’s slow and purposeful and sometimes it just feels like a toddler banging the keys!

There’s a time and place for all of it. Keep going, my friend. One day you’ll look up and notice that your family has found a new normal. You’ll think: “This is who we are and how we live now. I love us.”

What about you, friend? What have you done after the addition of a new family member to help create a routine, a rhythm, a breathing pattern? Do you think the dynamic is different with adoption or foster care? Comment below!

Read the Introduction Here! Bringing Home Baby, Again.

Next Week!

Bringing home a baby is hard on the siblings too! They have to get used to another person in the house that is interrupting their sleep or crashing in their room or possibly taking over their room and now they have to share their toys! It can be overwhelming for a little tyke. Join me next week as we talk about how to help the rest of the family adjust to life with another sibling.

Photo Credit: Captured Photography by Emily

Finding a new normal after a baby is born is not easy. It takes time but it is possible.

Bringing Home Baby, Again (an introduction)

I remember the day we brought our third child home from the hospital. It was a memorable afternoon snuggling with our newborn and introducing him to his big sister and big brother. I remember the older siblings’ excitement in meeting this sweet, precious baby. My eldest couldn’t stop looking at him and hugging him and asking to hold him. My daughter, who was not quite 2 at the time, followed the baby and I around. She would copy whatever I was doing. If I would change his diaper, she would change her baby doll’s diaper. If I rocked the baby, she would rock her baby. My husband was given a generous amount of parental leave so we spent those first few days enjoying our freshly expanded family with little concern for anything else.

A Bumpy Ride

Yes, a family of five felt wonderful. This bliss, however, was short-lived as my eldest came down with a mild case of pneumonia. He hadn’t been feeling well for a few days and my husband and I were both concerned. Friday afternoon brought a doctor’s visit and multiple prescriptions. As my son began breathing treatments, I noticed my daughter tugging at her ears. Then she developed a fever. Sunday afternoon was spent in the after-hours clinic followed by antibiotics and an ear infection diagnosis. Now I was really worried about my newborn baby. We did our best to keep the older children away from him, but he got sick as well. He tested positive for RSV at 2 weeks old!

Little did I know that this was just a taste of what was ahead. The cycle of sicknesses lasted forever! A child would get sick, 2 days later another, 2 days later another! I started tracking our sick days on a calendar hopeful it wasn’t as bad as it felt. I stopped. It was as bad as I thought.

Those first few weeks and months were quite bumpy as we adjusted to life with three children! Figuring out car seat arrangements was insane! Learning new nap schedules and getting the baby to sleep, somewhere other than my arms, were all so difficult. Getting everyone dressed and ready and loaded in the car took concentrated effort and teamwork. It was survival mode for a very long time as we struggled to find our new normal.

Shouldn’t We Know What We’re Doing?

My husband and I were both very shocked at how long this process was taking.  “It’s our third baby after all”, I thought. “We should know what we’re doing!” As my son approaches his second birthday, I can see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. We have found a new rhythm as a family of five and are starting to truly enjoy our moments together. It didn’t happen overnight and it came through many mistakes and sleepless nights.  Lots of sleepless nights.

Ironically, the turning point came, long before our circumstances changed, when a seasoned mom of three boys shared these words:  It takes at least a year to find a new normal after having a baby. Every. Time.

Every time a child is added into the picture, the ENTIRE family will need at least a year to get a handle on the changes that come with the new addition.” When this sage advice sunk in, everything changed! Well…every thing did not change but my perspective had a major overhaul. I learned to live in grace as I now understood that every member of the family, not just my husband and I, needed to adjust to our new addition.

Come along!

I’d like to invite you to join me in the coming weeks as I share some tips I’ve learned and advice I’ve heeded. I’ll share with you the mistakes we made along the way and share experiences and stories from others on this same journey of finding a new normal after the addition of a new family member.

Read the next post here! Finding A Rhythm

In the meantime, join the conversation! What is one thing that surprised you about bringing home a baby, or fostering or adopting? Did age of the child or number of children already present in the home change what it was like? Comment below!

 

photo credit: Captured Photography by Emily