When you are a parent, you spend a lot of time with your child, managing daily life and trying to reconcile family and work. It’s normal for a couple’s routines to change when a child is born, as the responsibilities are now greater.
Spouses may no longer do the activities they used to do together, at least for a while. Still, it is important to make time for your partner and your relationship.
What changes when you become a parent?
The arrival of a child is a great joy, but also a great upheaval. Many changes occur in a couple’s life. For example, fatigue, new responsibilities and a lack of time for oneself can cause tension in the couple.
Becoming a parent also brings its share of new questions, for example, about education and the reorganization of finances. These issues can sometimes add to the difficulties already present in the couple. Since parents are very busy, important discussions are often postponed, which can accentuate dissatisfaction.
In addition, the arrival of a child limits the amount of time spent together. The lack of time spent together and the decrease in interest in sexuality can also create tension. By talking about their concerns and spending time together, couples are usually able to come together as a team to overcome these challenges.
Why is it important to spend time together as a couple?
Sharing quality time together is the foundation of a healthy and lasting relationship. These moments remind the couple that before they were parents, they were also lovers. It is possible to be in love and parents at the same time.
It is important to continue to see each other as lovers, not just as parents.
The time that parents reserve for each other as a couple is also good for the child
Having a young child is often very demanding. Without realizing it, some parents can leave their love relationship aside.
However, the child needs to know that his parents are in love. First of all, because it makes him understand that he is not their only source of happiness, which would be a heavy responsibility for him to bear.
Secondly, the way his parents treat each other will influence his view of love and his future romantic relationships. However, it is not necessary to always kiss and cuddle in front of the child. Your child will sense the affection and love that his parents have for each other in their attitudes and actions.
How do you cultivate love?
All the time you spend together is important, no matter how long it takes. In fact, it’s better to share a few minutes together each day than to wait for long periods of time together.
Here are some simple ideas to include in your daily routine that will allow you to spend time together and stay in love.
When the child is under 1 year old
If you have a baby, it is not easy to keep him. But you can still have a great time together.
Tell your partner that you love him or her. These are the most important words you can say.
Do something nice for the other person (e.g., make dinner, bring them breakfast in bed, etc.).
Turn off the TV, radio and phone during mealtime. This will give you more time to talk.
Do some chores together (e.g. washing dishes, cooking, bathing your baby, shopping). Even if it’s not very romantic or fun, you’ll be together and have time to talk.
Set aside a time each day to talk together, even if it’s only for a few minutes (e.g., ask each other how they are doing, how their day was, etc.).
Go for a walk. If your child is sleeping in the stroller, you can enjoy some quality time with your partner. If your baby doesn’t sleep, provide books and toys for him/her to play with on their own.
Set aside time together when your child is in bed to have a romantic dinner, watch a movie, play a game, etc. You can take an afternoon nap at the same time as your child. This way, you’ll be in better shape to enjoy your evening.
Write a letter or love note to your partner. You could tell them why you love them and how you feel about them. Since the simplest words are enough when they come from the heart, you don’t have to be a good writer to do this. Reminding each other why you’re in love with each other will keep you in love despite the day-to-day grind and keep you wanting to share moments together.
Show your partner that you’re thinking about him or her by making simple, thoughtful gestures. For example, you can send them an email joke, call them at dinner time to see how they are doing, pick them up from work, make them their favourite meal, give them a gift or give them flowers.
Have fun times with your partner. For example, you can play a game, play sports, take a bath or shower together, give each other massages, read aloud together. Having fun and sharing interests can also help you bond.
Take every opportunity to physically show your affection for each other. Simple, obvious acts of love are often overlooked. For example, giving each other a real kiss when you leave in the morning, when you get home from work and before you go to bed at night. Many couples only do this out of habit without taking advantage of these moments to get closer. You can also hold hands, massage shoulders, cuddle, etc. Physical contact is pleasant and increases endorphins, hormones that make you feel good and happy.
Don’t overemphasize the little things. Maybe you can’t get all your tasks done, and that’s okay. Making time for your relationship is just as important, if not more so, than the other items on your “to do” list. Don’t be afraid to put off your laundry until tomorrow to spend some quality time with your partner.
When the child is over 1 year old
If you have a child between the ages of 1 and 5, in addition to the above suggestions, you may also want to consider these.
Meet at work together if possible. If your workplaces are close to each other, you can also have lunch together. This will give you a quiet time to eat and talk.
Go to the park as a family. While your child is playing in the playground, you and your partner can chat while you watch.
Encourage your child to play alone from time to time. This way, your child will learn to entertain himself or herself and not rely solely on you for entertainment. You’ll be able to have moments of discussion and bonding even if your toddler is not far away.
Plan outings with your partner. Start with short periods of time, at times when there is no routine with your toddler. For example, your first few outings can be during the day, outside of nap time (e.g., a one-on-one lunch at a restaurant, a bike ride, a walk). Later on, you can go for longer periods of time or go out during naptime or in the evening. Your child will be used to this and, more than anything, will know that you will come back rested and happy.
Cultivate your friendships as a couple. It’s also good for a couple to hang out with their couple friends. Spending quality time with people for whom love still has a place can be comforting and inspiring.
Plan a romantic weekend or a few days of vacation. Be aware, however, that before the age of five, a toddler may react badly to his parents’ absence by behaving more difficultly when they return. Indeed, at a young age, children do not always understand why their parents are away for a long period of time.
If you’re going away for a few days, here’s what you can do to make your little one feel secure in your absence:
Have him stay at your house so he’s in familiar surroundings. If that’s not possible, make sure your toddler has his or her blanket, stuffed animal or other comforting object with them;
Make sure your toddler knows the caregiver well and has a good bond with them;
Describe your child’s routines to the caregiver and ask them to follow them.
If you can’t get child care
In this case, choose an activity that you can do with your child (e.g., take a walk, cook for each other, dance in the living room). It’s better to include your toddler in your activity than to deprive yourself of doing it. Remember, the important thing is to have fun together.
When to ask for help
To cultivate love, it can sometimes be helpful to consult a psychologist or psychotherapist. This is the case, for example, if:
you feel that you and your partner are distancing yourselves and that the situation is not improving even though you have expressed your concerns and told him or her how important your relationship is to you
Arguments with your partner are frequent and escalate quickly.
Consulting a professional can help you to see things more clearly, to clear up the resentment and the accumulated reproaches and to build a new foundation for your relationship, while taking into account your role as parents. It is advisable not to wait too long to seek help if you need it. It is easier to make adjustments when there is not too much tension and frustration built up.
Being lovers while being good parents is entirely possible. Cultivating love can be done on a daily basis.
Pleasant moments as a couple are the basis of a healthy and lasting love relationship. They also make it easier to find solutions to problems and conflicts in the relationship.
The love that unites you and your partner is a good example for your child.