As much as I love motherhood, being a parent is bloody hard work. The long hours, the sleep deprivation, the attempts at decoding what X,Y or Z cries mean.....it all takes its toll. And when you're married or with a partner, it sometimes is really difficult to draw the line between being parents and being in a relationship. At times it seems all you talk about is your child and nothing else. You get comfortable with the rhythm of everyday life and romance often gets forgotten.
But feeling loved and appreciated by your significant other is really important. Especially during your first year as parents. There will be arguments over nothing. There will be tears. There will be moments where you just snap at each other. So when there are times where things are running smoother and whatever outside stresses there are have settled, it's important to give that spark of love an extra nudge.
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Put The Phones Down - We're all guilty of it. Slobbing out on the sofa, TV remote in one hand and phone in the other, aimlessly scrolling. It's a compulsion. A social media addiction. And a romance killer. It's a habit that needs to be kicked. Even though it may be all you want to do, try putting your phone to one side and instead talk to each other. And not just 'parent talk'. Properly connect with each other and engage in conversations with lots of open ended questions. A few weeks ago Ryan and I stayed up for hours just talking and drinking wine. We were hungover to death the next day but it helped us feel a lot closer than we had in a long time. And the biggest reason? There wasn't an electronic third wheel hanging round!
Eat At The Table - This might not be relevant to everyone but if - like us - you are guilty of indulging in dinner times on the sofa then this one is for you. Eating at a dining table. It's such a simple thing to do but it really does make so much difference. We pissed around for ages before sorting out a proper place to eat, but now that we have, we are spending a lot more quality time together. Ryan is the chef in the house so when Eric has gone to sleep, he starts off the tea and I come in to the kitchen and sit with him while he cooks. We chat and catch up, listen to music and then eat together. It's extra time for us as a couple, away from screens and other distractions. Time where it is just the two of us, and we are the only ones we need to focus on.
Designate Time For 'Parent Talk' - The first thing Ryan and I talk about when he walks through the door is Eric. Has he pooed? Has he slept? What has he eaten? Sometimes it's difficult to remember there's a big wide world out there. Slipping into the routine of talking about your baby is so easy but when it comes to your relationship the time you spend doing that needs to be kept to a minimum. Then you can be free to talk about other things - world events, your favourite wine....the weather. Something that means you get to take your mummy / daddy hats off - even if it's just for a moment.
Keep Surprising Each Other - Flowers, chocolates, or even just a hot cup of coffee. Just because you are parents it doesn't mean the surprises should stop. Particularly if you time it perfectly. If you notice that your other half has been struggling with sleep, worried about weaning or stuck in the house for a few days due to inclement weather, treat them to things that are really personal and beneficial to the situation. Especially time - because you don't get much of it as a parent. Trust me it'll be so greatly appreciated.
Intimacy - It had to appear on this list somewhere! When you're a parent sometimes having 'special cuddles' with your significant other is the last thing on your mind. But intimacy is important - in whatever form you want it to take. Kisses, cuddles and love making are all things that you should make time for. Sure - most of the time you won't want to. You'll be tired, frazzled and frantic. But being tactile - even if it's just holding hands or curling up together on the sofa - is one of the quickest ways to remind one another that you are there for each other, that love is still there, and that it isn't going anywhere anytime soon.