I was so scared that having a baby was going to completely take over my life and I was going to lose the normalcy Alex and I had created. We had a good thing going and I was terrified that bringing a baby into the world would turn ours upside-down. And it did…but I feel like we have a done a good job of maintaining some sense of life we had before William. I’m not going to lie – it takes hard work and consistency, but we have gotten into a groove that I am happy with. Today I am talking about the 5 things that worked for us to keep our relationship strong and maintain our life pre-baby as well.
- We try not to keep score: OMG this is so hard to do but it was advice given to me early on and I loved the idea of it. Alex and I both work full time jobs during the day and often times one of us will have an obligation after work or on the weekend or just need some time to ourselves. Alex ALWAYS does drop off at daycare in the morning unless he is out of town. I am not a morning person in the slightest, so even if I do need him to pick William up (about once a week) it is a part of his routine to take him in the morning and will always do it. Some weeks, Alex is gone 4 out of the 5 nights with obligations at work, meetings, choir practice, etc. so William and I hang out and I handle dinner/bedtime with him. Almost always, Alex will take William for at least an hour in the morning on the weekends so I can sleep. We have birthdays, happy hours, friends in town, etc. that come up all the time and we try to do our best not to say “since I did this last week can you take William on this night…” because it doesn’t matter. There will always be an opportunity for one of us to get time to ourselves and need the other to step in. I’m not saying it is always that easy, especially when one or the other has been travelling or has stayed home with a sick baby…but we try to have the mutual respect to not care if we have to put in a little extra time and effort with William 🙂
- We embraced babysitters early on: We were so lucky to find a long list of recommended babysitters from our church and invited a couple of girls over when William was really young (like 8 weeks) to spend some time with him and get to know him. I’m not saying it was easy to leave the first, second or even third time, but allowing ourselves to get out the door when he was a baby, gave us the ability to leave now when it’s even harder to run out the door as William is often screaming and telling us he doesn’t want us to leave. Now if one of them can’t babysit, there is a long list of girls they can contact and each one has been so wonderful with William. We also ask for pictures and updates throughout the night so we know he is safe–which helps my sanity as well–but it allows us much needed alone time. We try to get away at least once a night every 2 weeks just the two us.
- We take William with us: I realize this is not always possible (especially for those who have colicky babies and those that don’t like to be in their car seats) but William was a very easy baby to cart all over the place. He often slept in his car seat and as long as we had a bottle he was quite content. I know not all babies are that easy, but he made it simple for us to get out around other people without always needing to have a babysitter. Socializing him at a young age seemed to be a positive influence on him as he is still pretty good and easy to take out with us. The other day we went to lunch and then met a couple of friends at a brewery and as long as William had a sippy cup and some cheerios, he was happy to be with us.
- Alex and I have strong individual friendships: Although spending time together is a priority, having our own friendships has helped maintain our own relationship. It has been important for us to not be so reliant on each other and focus on spending time with our friends as well. This is when I get a lot of advice about parenting, am able to vent about anything and also hear that my friends deal with the same things I deal with day in and day out. Alex is my biggest supporter, but my friend’s are a close second as they are always there to listen, be a shoulder to cry on or just share a bottle of wine with.
- We balance each others interests: Alex is an outdoor person 100%. His ideal day is a long family hike, a picnic in the park, a bonfire outside, some sort of festival, etc. He likes to be busy and has a hard time relaxing. He is all about the experiences and likes to try out new places and immerse himself in the city. While, I enjoy these things, he could do all of those in one day and I’m more of the one and done type person. I like to relax at home, cross things off my to do list and enjoy a nice bottle of wine on a patio somewhere. I love lunches on the weekends with a glass of champagne and entertaining friends at our house. So we try to balance each other’s ‘ideal’ weekends and change it up every now and then by getting out of our comfort zones.
All in all it’s about finding what works for you and then sticking with it and working through the frustrations (that are bound to happen). A sweet reader sent me a message and asked why parenting has to be so black and white?! Either you have a life without kids or don’t have a life with them. I don’t think it has to be! We try to not let it completely consume and change us so our happiness is a priority as well. How do maintain your relationship and normalcy after kids?!