Remember the early days of your relationship where you could sleep in, go to brunch and catch a movie the first day it opened? Or maybe it was meeting up with friends and checking out the newest restaurant that just popped up. As much as we love our kids they sure do change the relationship dynamic. You may be knee deep in diaper duty, tantrums or homework but regardless of what parenting stage you are in, it is easy to get caught up in to do lists and scheduling compromises. And with Valentine’s Day right around the corner, we thought it was the perfect time to share some ideas to help you and your partner keep the romance alive as parents! So check out our list below for some great ways to keep your relationship strong. Because happy parents make a happy home.
- Share a journal
Sometimes life moves so fast that it is tough to remember all of the things you want to say to each other. Last week I noticed my husband had loaded and unloaded the dishwasher. It seems like a small gesture, but he knows how much I hate doing that and went out of his way to do it before I got home. I wanted to thank him but he was already at his tennis match! By the time he got back I was asleep and when morning rolled around, I had forgotten to say thank you.
By keeping a couples journal, you and your partner can stay in touch about the little things in the midst of the chaos. If you have something kind you want to say, write it down and put it on your partner’s pillow or in their nightstand. Try to reserve the journal for words of encouragement, thanks or romance and you will be surprised how quickly you start waiting for that journal to make it’s way back to your pillow.
- Take a class
There are so many great opportunities to take fun classes in the cities! Woodworking, painting, sewing, language, cooking, the list goes on. Check out your local community center’s adult enrichment programs and local shops to find one that matches the interests of you and your partner, sign up and learn something new together.
- Get a Babysitter
This one seems like an obvious way to rekindle the romance, but it is often one of the last things we make time for. Time alone without your kids is critical to making sure you not only get the opportunities to feel like adults together, but have time to remember all of the things you love about each other outside of your family.
Want to make it extra challenging? Set a time limit for yourselves where you are NOT allowed to talk about the kids. It might be hard at first but you will be surprised at how easily you fall back into pre-child conversation.
- Celebrate your month-aversary
Most people enjoy celebrating their anniversary once a year, but it’s even better to have an excuse to celebrate 12 times a year! That idea brings me back to high school where my then boyfriend and I were so impressed we made it another month that we just had to celebrate. Now as adults, it just gives you one more reason to spend some time together.
- Cook together
Cooking with your partner can be very romantic, but between baths, books and bedtime you are most likely exhausted by the time the kids are in bed. And if you haven’t eaten dinner yet, you may be eying the leftovers. Instead, take that time to reconnect with your spouse through food. Turn on some quiet music, cook your meal and sit down to eat it together.
Want to cook but only have leftovers in the fridge? Take a lesson from the cooking show Chopped and have some fun experimenting! Give each other 20 minutes each to use 4 ingredients from your fridge (along with basic pantry items) to make a dish worth drooling over. Score the dishes and then laugh about your creations while enjoying them together.
- Don’t Keep Score
“I unloaded the dishwasher the last time.”
“Your turn to get up with the baby.”
“I never get to go out as much as you!”
If any of these types of conversations seem familiar, you may have fallen into the habit of keeping score. It is easy to remember all of the things you do in an average day, after all, you are living it. But what isn’t as easy is to notice, and remember, all of the things your partner does each day. Once you start keeping score, it makes it difficult to notice all of the fantastic things your partner is doing and bitterness will be a constant companion.
Instead, make a point to notice all of the GREAT things about your partner. The corny joke they told at dinner, the wink they gave you as your toddler had a meltdown because you wouldn’t let him touch the stove (or something equally as insane.) And remember that everyone, including you, has days where they pull more than their fair share and days where they pull less. A little grace goes a long way.
- Share a Hobby
It is important to have your own hobbies but it is fun to have hobbies with your partner as well. Think of something you both love or have wanted to try and make a point to explore the opportunity this spring. A few great ideas for hobbies are:
- Sports (tennis is a great team activity!)
- Edible Gardening
- Supporting a local band
- Trying new restaurants
- Exploring local breweries
- Set Reminders
This may not sound sexy, but it sure is practical. Think of one day each month (or more if you are ambitious!) and set a reminder to Do something nice for Hubby/Wifey/Fiance/Boyfriend/Girlfriend. Be intentional about it. Do you know he always has a tough meeting on Wednesday mornings? Make it a point to text and ask how it went. Is she a surprise kind of person? Make an effort to pop over to her office and bring a lunch to share. The little things go a long way.And if you haven’t read The Five Love Languages yet, it’s a great read that will help you understand a little more about the best way to communicate with your significant other.
As much as you love your children, they will be off living their own lives after 18 years, but your marriage is forever. It is important to make sure you are involved in your children’s lives, but it is equally important to demonstrate what a strong partnership, filled with mutual love and respect, looks like. After all, what you model for your children is what they will expect from their future relationship. So let loose, have fun and remember to always remember the reason your kids are around in the first place, your love for each other.