Playing kick-the-ball outside with my children I find myself wondering how I got so lucky. They are hilarious, stubborn, and everything wonderful. I get so caught up in them – thinking about how Hollis needs a haircut and how Ava’s socks don’t match because that’s the way she likes them (such a silly girl)! I am thankful for this afternoon out in the sun and the laughter ringing through the air. I hear a car door shut and the kids running toward the gate shouting happily, “daddy, daddy!” Kisses and hugs, and tiny hands pull daddy to the backyard, wanting him to join in with us. We all kick the pink ball and chase each other for a while. I find myself looking at him, also wondering how I got so lucky. I think about how we started as two, and then three, and finally four.
How we started…
So much has changed. We used to talk on the phone for hours each night, telling each other our childhood stories, and other nonsense. We enjoyed haunted houses, staying up way too late and long lazy weekends out at the lake, laying in the sun and cruising in the boat. Now we revolve our world around two little beings that always seem to need so much from us. We give and give, work, hug and hold, cook, clean, and play. By the end of the day, we are both exhausted and zoning out on the TV, or internet surfing for some down time. I remember where we started – as two. This relationship, the original two, also needs nurturing and upkeep. We need special time, laughter and romance, as two.
It can be tricky as parents to navigate how to keep your relationship strong, healthy and, well, hot…even when you have spit up on your clothes! When you are raising children and one, or both of you, is working, special time with each other can occasionally be pushed to the back burner. So many other things seem more pressing and important, but in reality this relationship needs to continue to stay strong and happy for all the other relationships to remain that way.
We are very lucky. We have close family in our area who loves to watch our children. My mother-in-law watches them every other Monday for a few hours, which allows us time together. My mom also loves watching the kids. She can’t go a day without stopping by the house and visiting them. She misses them too much. Even with all this family and scheduled “child-free” hours, we still need to prioritize our time together. Those Mondays when the kids are away, I can easily get sucked into housework or errands. Bo, my husband, can spend hours out in the garage working on whatever project he has. Instead of using this time for each other, we get busy, and before we know it, the kids are back and we are in high gear with them. Recently, I have made it a priority to take this time and make sure we use every moment possible to work on our relationship. Some nights after we get the kids to bed I make us a separate dinner that we eat together -usually around 8 p.m. - and we can talk and have time alone with just each other (no interruptions). We can use this time to reconnect.
Many families do not have relatives nearby to help out with their children. In this case, I think it is great to have friendships in which you can swap a Friday night each month and take turns watching each other’s children.
I feel strongly that any time can be used to help keep your relationship strong. This time doesn’t have to be going out on an elaborate, romantic date. After the kids go to bed, spend some time talking with the TV off. Get up a little earlier to eat breakfast together before the kids wake up and the busy day begins. Go for walks in the evening together, while the kids are enjoying the ride in the stroller you can have some time to talk or even just hold hands. Even a simple phone call during the day, to let your spouse know you are thinking about them or miss them can work. Think about the opportunities you have with your spouse and make sure you are using each one as an opportunity to connect and reinforce how much you love each other.
By guest blogger from Real Mom Real Views