Making time for each other when you have multiple children...
To start, I have said multiple children but really it’s hard to make time for each other when you have one! So no matter how many kids you have, you are probably missing that time you used to get with your partner, and you are probably being missed. If you’re not, well that’s a whole other blog post...
I’m writing this as a mother of 3 young children who amaze me everyday while practically sucking the life out of me. I absolutely adore them, I love being a mum but I do find it difficult to juggle taking care of their needs, making sure the house is semi-liveable, that everyone is fed, that school lunches are organised, excursions paid for, homework completed, birthdays and Christmas’ are in hand, that we have a fully stocked fridge as often as possible and that our finances are in order (we have something in the bank each day). You’ll notice I didn’t even mention the husband… Mistake number one?! That’s right, what’s the point in having a slickly organised Christmas and a semi tidy house if my marriage is losing the will to live? Slightly dramatic perhaps but it’s about priorities. Where does your spouse fit into your list of them? We actually ask that to those people who fill out our marriage questionnaire and guess what…? As of yet not one person has said they feel a priority to their partner.
Here’s my story.
I was an OK partner to my husband, pretty good I would say. Then I got pregnant and suddenly the world revolved around the embryo in my tummy. When the baby arrived, I cannot describe in words how I felt physically and emotionally but it was something similar to: absolutely broken. My physical healing took several months, mental healing even longer. I was utterly incapable of making time for my husband and he couldn’t do so for me as for a while he was playing a rather huge part of raising our daughter. Fast forward a few years, a few babies and a lot of work on our marriage and now I would say we are in a solid place where we make time for each other daily. Against all odds.
Here’s how we do it.
Plan. I must admit I am a planner. I plan like a b*tch. I can’t get enough of planning. My husband is not a planner, he hates it like I hate school runs. But every Sunday night we sit down with our diaries and iphones and we plan our week. We make sure we haven’t clashed with the car use, that we get some one on one time with at least one child if we can, that we aren’t over stretching ourselves with social or work based activities but best of all we schedule time together. We try to have one coffee or lunch date during school hours, and we make sure that we have at least 2-3 evenings which are free for us.
Turn the darn TV off. This is a hard one for us. We LOVE movies, Apprentice and Bear Grylls Celebrity Island. After a busy day and a diffuclt bed time routine, watching some trash or a good movie is about all we can manage. But we don’t allow this more than 2 evenings a week, the rest of the time, we talk, eat, read together, learn together (we recently started a latin dance DVD for beginners - his idea - and it was loads of fun). We sometimes eat a meal at the table after the kids have gone to bed. We talk about our work, our day, our dreams and if I’m really lucky we’ll plan something. We don’t have much family close by so our dates are at home. We try to treat our evenings together as dates. And it’s lush.
Date. This is not gonna be a huge revelation, we all know we should. We’ve all read blogs about how we still need to date but also we can’t seem to hear it enough, because in the midst of raising children we sometimes forget to clean our teeth or brush our hair and more often than any of those we forget to arrange a date with our partner.
Find a hobby. My husband listened to Willard F Hartley Jr recently who said that "its essential for spouses to be each others primary choice for recreational activities, if long term happy marriage is the goal". The two of us sat down and rated all of the activities we would happily do together. I should point out that I am not super active, have never liked any sports and am a little nerdy. My husband on the other hand is extremely physical, loves almost all sports and is a bit more ‘cool’. However of 100 activity suggestions we ended up with a list of 5 activities that we were both willing to try. Ours were: archery (yet to do this one, so random), dancing, movies, eating out and walking. Well we’ve had a go at dancing, I’ve already mentioned movies, we eat out whenever we have even the slightest offer of childcare (thanks mothers!) and we have started going for a walk every Wednesday, even if we have all 3 kids with us. It’s been great trying to find things that we both enjoy and I’m looking forward to kicking his ass at archery (I was crowned as Maid Marian when I was 11 on school camp. Massive deal when you aren’t ‘sporty’).
Hug. I’m not very touchy feely but my husband is. Because I know this, if he looks even slightly ‘on another planet’ I’ll rub his back or hug him and he feels instantly cared for. This takes between 10 seconds (hug) and 10 minutes (generous back rub) but it always get him back in the room and reminds us of who we are: hubster and wife.
Say nice things. If there’s one thing us couples are falling short on it’s showing appreciation to one another. We hear this complaint more than most: “He/she doesn’t seem to appreciate me”. There is nothing worse than feeling undervalued or taken advantage of. Take a minute to say “thank you” or “I’m so grateful you…” anything that shows you appreciate your partner.
Do something thoughtful. Leave a note somewhere, do a chore that’s usually theirs, get them a gift, make their favourite meal, write them a card, offer a foot rub, run them a bath. Something that takes just minutes or pence can really make them feel a priority.
There are more things we can all do, I hope this blog sparks just one thing that you can do better or differently which will help you make time for one another. Life - and your relationship - changes so much once you have a child. But your spouse came first, and still should. For when they come first, everything else feels easier, better and more fun.
Good luck, Kerry @ The Marriage People.