Romance after kids: Is it possible?
I’m not going to lie: romance after kids is hard. After having my third child, romance fell to the bottom of my priority list. Between diaper changes (and EC life), caring for two toddlers while breastfeeding and getting used to a newborn, keeping up a house and cooking, there wasn’t much time left for anything else. By the end of the day, I was completely exhausted, and I just wanted to sleep. And many moms of young children feel the same way. But it doesn’t have to be like this. Keeping the romance alive in your marriage is not only possible, it’s an important part of a thriving relationship.
It’s a sad statistic that 13% of marriages end within 5 years of a child being born. But it’s also not difficult to see why. You’re adding a whole new person to your life, after all, and priorities certainly shift when this happens. A baby needs their parents 24/7, and there’s often resentment on the primary caregiver’s part when their partner isn’t as involved as they should be.
There’s also the sheer exhaustion of interrupted and low quality sleep, because babies don’t care how tired you are. While dealing with all of this, it’s no surprise that some (or a lot) of stress is added to your marriage. But there are some things you can do to make romance after baby a reality. Here are some tips.
Before any tips will work, it’s important to remember that when you have young children, the ability to adapt is paramount. So maybe you can’t leave your newborn, breastfeeding baby for three days while you go on a romantic vacation, but you can certainly still have a few romantic moments. For example, you could get a baby carrier and take a stroll holding your partner’s hand. It’s not a honeymoon in the Bahamas, but it’s something.
2. Make date nights at home a regular thing.
Sometimes, moms and dads alike are way too tired to get out of the house after caring for baby. When that’s the case, a romantic date night at home makes sense. You can have dinner by candlelight with baby nearby, watch a movie or an episode of a TV show while sharing a drink (yes, breastfeeding mothers can drink in moderation), or look at old photos together. The options are limitless; you just have to be a little creative.
3. Show your partner your appreciation.
Whether it’s thanking them for doing their part in the hard job of parenting, telling them you love them on a frequent basis, or committing to giving them a passionate kiss everyday, show your partner you love them and appreciate them, despite your shifted priorities.
4. Remember: the days are long, but the years are short.
Believe it or not, there’ll come a time when you have fond memories of the difficulties of parenting. My kids are still pretty young, and I still remember how hard things were when they were newborns. Yet, sometimes I miss it when they were babies and dependent on me for everything (and didn’t have the words to talk back…)
Don’t let the stress of parenting take away from the love that made you a parent in the first place. Sometimes, when we’re exhausted, it’s easy to only see the negatives. Remember to see the positives, too—chances are, your partner is also exhausted and you both need each other’s support. And if you really feel like you’re taking the brunt of the parenting tasks, it’s time to ask for help.
5. Communicate clearly about your needs.
If you’re exhausted and feel that you need more help, simply ask. Many women complain that their partners aren’t involved enough in household and parenting duties; yet, they have never spoken to their spouse about their frustration. Your partner can’t read your mind, so it’s important that you simply ask for the help you need. Tell your partner lovingly and specifically what kind of help you require. You will probably get the help you need, and save yourself a lot of resentment and friction in your marriage.
Remember to keep communicating, set aside at least one day a week when you spend some one-on-one time with your spouse (even if it’s with baby in tow), and remember the love that made you parents in the first place.