Let me set the scene:
I’ve have had one of those days. You know the ones. Where the baby is out of routine so everything is out of routine, I don’t know whether he wants to feed or sleep, whilst my 3 year old knows exactly what she wants and she wants it 5 minutes ago (and also has the right to change her mind at any given moment).
Even I am getting bored of hearing my own voice, ‘Don’t do that, sit down, eat your food, I’ve just answered that, don’t shove a pea up your brother’s nose, or sit on his face, draw on the paper please not the table, yes I just said I am getting you a snack, use your words’ etc.
When one has woken up, the other needs a nap, and vice versa. They are out of sync and I’ve not had a moment to myself. Even going for a wee is not alone time with one on my lap whilst the other empties hand soap onto the floor.
I’ve boiled the kettle several times but I’ve maybe only drunk half a cup of warm tea. I’ve managed to put on a wash but it will stay sitting in machine for a good while yet.
I’ve got everyone ready to leave the house on time (miracle!) and then the baby projectile vomits all over the both of us. Entire outfits need changing.
Somehow I got through the day and it’s 5pm…the countdown begins until the other responsible adult *daddy* arrives home.
He walks in the door sweaty from cycling, I am covered in milk stains and glitter and snot (which has merged into glittery snot), we barely say hi, I shove the kids in his arms and quickly run around making dinner, running the bath and tidying up toys, ready for the dreaded bedtime hour.
He takes one, I take the other. The kids are bathed, Pj’d and read stories. After a few tantrums/negotiations/teeth brushing songs later, one is down. One to go. The baby is still wriggling around in my arms resisting the thing he (and I) need most, SLEEP, and finally after several attempts of put down/creep away/baby cries/repeat, at around 8pm both are down. Phew.
We now tidy up the aftermath of bedtime and get on with making dinner for ourselves, maybe have a shower if we’re lucky, sit down, breathe a sigh of relief and…oh look the baby’s up again and that’s where my night is just beginning. Off I go to spend a night away from my husband being slowly tortured by my fidgeting, windy, milk-addict of a baby and I will now be woken up every hour until 5am where he will be ready to start the day and we begin again.
I’m sure if you’re a parent some of that sounds familiar to you. It is relentless. We are passing ships. Experts at tag-teaming. There was no time for us today. And certainly no time for you know what. (Yes I am publicly talking about that and yes I am seriously hoping my mum isn’t reading this).
It feels like we’re waiting for ‘Saturday’ – you know those days you used to have lie-ins, afternoon delight, watch movies in bed…in the actual daytime?! But those days never come round. Even holidays aren’t holidays. It’s just the same thing with a change of scenery and it took three days of packing and forty lists of things you needed to get you there.
I can look at my non-parent friends and feel (very very) jealous, of the free time, dates, nights away, holidays abroad, tantrum free lunches out, lie ins, and so on. Of course I do.
But I chose this, no one forced it on me. And of course I love it too. I also have moments of wondering WHY ON EARTH WAS I SO KEEN FOR THIS?!
But we’re here now and need to work with where we’re at. I can’t wait for my kids to leave home to have some time with my husband. I want to be more than just passing ships. To have unrushed time, just us. To answer the door one day clean, well slept and looking hot. To actually sleep in the same bed.
I need to remind myself that it all started with us. So why have ‘we’ been forgotten? Our relationship needs time and attention. For us, but also for them.
So what does it look like? Sure it’ll look different to how it used to – it will need more intentional planning and effort. Maybe less spontaneity but surely there can still be romance within that?
Here are some small realistic gestures we do every so often that help us to reconnect and remind us why we got here in the first place. More of this means less snapping at each other, working well as a team, less ‘roomies’; more romance.
NB This isn’t really realistic during the newborn phase (3 months and under) so please don’t put pressure on yourself in that time!
-it doesn’t take much to pick up some flowers on your way home from work, to say I was thinking of you. We ladies will secretly always feel romanced with flowers even if we say it’s cheesey (do it anyway).
-Tell her she’s beautiful even in her pjs stained with baby puke and apple purée.
– turn your phone off and give her all the attention.
– book a babysitter and surprise her so she doesn’t have the chance to make up reasons why she can’t leave the kids – even if you just go out for an hour for a drink. Or make a date night at home if going out isn’t possible.
– help with extra chores (if you don’t already) so there’s less to do when the kids are down.
– send him a text in the day that says you’re thinking of him.
– put your phone down, turn the TV off even if you just need to zone out, and spend some time together.
– wear matching underwear all day so when the kids are down you’re prepped mentally and physically for some one-on-one time.
– say hi and ask him how his day was before chucking him the babies as soon as he walks in.
– buy him his favourite beer etc
These are just ideas that work for us, (I’m aware we fit gender stereotypes) so taylor them to your preferences!
Basically it’s just about not being lazy – simple things that say ‘I’m thinking of you in my day. I still love you in these tired years.’
And yes it’s a sacrifice and yes you have to be committed to making an effort, but it’s so worth it. And when you both go check on your sleeping baby, soft skin, curled up and smiling peacefully in their sleep, and when you both witness your kid saying something cuter than cute, the two of you will look at each other with a smile that only you understand that says – ‘Look at what we made, aren’t they the best?!’
They are worth the sacrifice. They are worth this incredible thing that we share.
They don’t have to drive you apart, they can bring you together. And we’re definitely better together.