Children change us in so many incredible ways. It’s often said that you’ll never know love like the love a parent has for a child. “Just wait,” people say, “it’s not easy but it’s the best thing around because they make you a better person.”
What a beautiful dream life it seemed to be in our childless minds. And in truth, our sweet angel babies do change us. We learn that we have to be patient. We learn we have to keep up with their worlds – new technology, new experiences, new minds. World News Tonight? No way, Paw Patrol dude! And that fun-loving marriage full of dates and spontaneous weekend getaways you had before kids? Hey, you don’t mind sacrificing those for your baby. You’re a team, always have been and always will be. Guys’ night out/Girls’ night out – now you divide and conquer a new way… “Honey, you handle the piano lesson while I handle the science project.”
Never have you been a better team than the team you are now that you are parents. But in truth, what they don’t tell you is that children challenge you and your marriage. Because it doesn’t take long before your head falls on the pillow and you think to yourself, when do I get some time for me… for us.
My husband and I had 10 amazing years together before we were blessed with our daughter. We traveled and dined out often. Call us for an impromptu event, we were on it! We talked all the time. Sent sweet messages throughout the day. We worked out together. We played together. We were so in love. And then we had a child and just like everything else in our lives we dove in 100%. We were so tuned in with her needs that one day we stopped and looked at each other and asked, “When are we going to have our time?”
Making a movie star’s words work for me, “conscious coupling” is the name of the game. There is no uncoupling, the word she used, for us but her point really resonated. We decided that if we were going to make this work, then conscious coupling is the name of the game. How on earth did we make a turn for what has become the happiest time in our lives?
Queue the modified date night! You have to make it work! And I’m not going to lie, it takes both parties being willing to make the most of a child situation. It’s not hard and it’s not cumbersome but it does take creativity. And to be honest, being creative about how you’re going to make the playground an “about us” moment brings a sweet smile to my face!
When we go to the park we first run around and play with our daughter. She has time with us and she’s getting used to the park. No matter how familiar she may be we always start by playing with her first. Afterwards, we play with each other. He pushes me on the swing. We race each other on the swing. If the slide is free, we slide down together. We wanted this to work so bad that we never wondered what others were thinking. We have had push-up challenges and races. And before it’s time to go we sit together and hold hands. Now, everyone looks forward to the park!
Yard Play and/or Grill Time
Preparation is king with this suggestion! About to grill for the evening? I get everything prepped and ready to go before the grilling begins. And once that’s started we let my daughter go outside and play and we hang out together on the deck. We get to talk, yes with multiple interruptions, but we get to talk. Any parent with kids knows how nice it is to talk. When I don’t prepare, my husband is on the deck and I’m in the house trying to get stuff done. But I work really hard to prepare first so that I can sit with him while he grills. It’s so simple, not always perfectly executed, but makes for a lovely time.
Not grilling but taking the kids out to ride bikes? We walk (or sit closely and watch) together while she rides her bike or plays with her toys. We try very hard to get her comfortable with just our presence so we can talk to each other while she plays. Now our daughter chimes in more often than she should but we are still having this time together.
Netflix and Chill
My father has always said, “Put those kids to bed early! It’s not for them, it’s for YOU!” Boy is he right! We get our daughter to bed around 7pm. We strive for earlier! And then we climb into bed and watch TV or splurge for a $1 box rental. Sometimes we talk and sometimes we just relax together. But these two hours are pure bliss! It’s the end of the day and we are exhausted but to unwind… together… just makes for a nice evening. I even enjoy nights when my husband needs to work in bed because I get to play my phone games!!! But, we are together and working very hard on our conscious coupling!
My husband has a very busy work day. But no day is so busy that you can’t send a quick text. When we discussed how to be better at conscious coupling I mentioned that it felt like he never thought about me. Regularly, he takes one brief moment and sends me a text to say hi. Sweet nothings are amazing “somethings!” All we want is to be remembered, thought about… to know our spouses care. Because I can always text, my sweet something is use of those free (folks, they are never free) photobook deals. I do one a quarter compiled of my daughter’s photos and my “fro adventures'” photos with a note of appreciation to my husband for working hard to make our life possible.
The best feeling of happiness is when you’re happy because you’ve made somebody else happy.
Children definitely change us. They challenge us. In order for my husband and I to get that sizzle fired back up in our marriage we had to accept the challenge and be conscious, present, in our marriage. If it means finding inventive ways to keep our spark alive then so be it! In our adventures in conscious coupling we are finding lots of ways to make it a moment for us and our daughter. We can’t spend lots of money and we can’t be as spontaneous as we once were. But we can make a point to make the other a priority!