The evenings before kids were yours to enjoy even if you and your partner worked long hours. You probably spent weekends together, enjoyed popcorn and movie dates, romantic dinner dates, takeaways at the beach, picnics, camping, festivals ... the choices were endless! It was easy to find time for each other, because your responsibilities were so much less! Amirite?!
Once the kids came along ... how things changed! No doubt they're a mix of wondrous, glorious, fabulous, exciting, stressful, worrying, exhilarating, infuriating, exhausting ... and everything in between, and your time together outside of work is now consumed with parenting responsibilities.
When the kids are in bed, often you're too tired to talk, preferring to turn on the TV, or even go to sleep.
Depending on how many kids you have, it could be more than a couple of decades before you're back to doing whatever you like, whenever and wherever. So, we want to tell you not to wait! Make time for each other NOW. It’s important that you do—your kids need you to take care of yourselves, each other, and to put your relationship high on the list of things to nurture!
Dating your partner after you have kids is GOOD for your relationship, and here are nine reasons why, followed by ideas for what you can do on these dates with your partner!
1) Keep the spark alive. Kids can be a lot of work, the daily grind can be exhausting, and it's easy to let your relationship suffer as a result. Taking time for date nights can help keep the spark alive and remind you both you're individual people, not just parents! Remember why you got together in the first place! 2) Kids can make it hard to focus on your relationship. Having kids can be super stressful at times, and you can find the the romance slipping out of your relationship. If you want your partner to be committed to you, show them that you're committed to them, too. 3) Kids can make it a challenge to communicate with each other, as grown adults, having adult conversations. When you set time aside to "date" each other, what a difference it will make to your connection. 4) If you're both "not in the mood", "too cranky" or just too tired to make love after a long day of parenting, then your intimacy will suffer because of it. Set up a date night at home (or hotel!), and organise for someone else to have your kids for the night. Your relationship will thank you for it! (If you don't have family nearby to help out, do a date-night-swap with friends who also have kids, they'll love the break, too!)
5) Have FUN! What did you do before kids, that you both enjoyed together that was FUN? If it doesn't involve talking, so what! Let your hair down, laugh, kick up those heels and get out of your comfort zone ... You'll be able to reconnect with each other and get the alone time you need.
6) Quiet time can be enjoyable time together. The pleasure of talking and listening to each other. The interactions are open, honest, straightforward and pleasant. Just a walk hand in hand, a picnic at the beach, something simple, slow and relaxing ... just enjoying being with each other can be really special, cost nothing, but reap huge rewards for your relationship.
7) Unless you treat your relationship, your marriage, like it’s a living thing — which requires nurturing on a regular basis — you won’t have a marriage after the kids leave home.
8) Model a healthy relationship! Kids won’t get the importance of your marriage while they are tiny, but as they grow, you're role models of how to be in a relationship, how to make a relationship work and how to sustain it. If you want your kids to have healthy relationships as adults, you need to model one.
9) Dating your partner costs less than divorce! It’s rather an unromantic notion, but dating your partner is a far cheaper option than separation counselling or divorce ... Stats tell us that a divorce fee in NZ is $211.50 and can cost you from as little as a few thousand dollars to upwards of $70,000 on average. Dating your spouse on the other hand, showing them you're invested in the relationship, is just the cost of a babysitter and your imagination.
Dating your partner needn’t be expensive. Here are some date night ideas that you can try: • Try something new! Go dancing! UCan2 Dance Studio offers Free Introductory nights throughout the year which is a great opportunity to try out a dance class with your partner. There is no need to book and no obligation to commit to a course - just turn up and enjoy a class. Find out more here.
• Spend time with other happy couples. Organise date nights with friends, have them over for dinner, go for an evening picnic or barbecue at the beach. Cultivating solid friendships with other loving couples can be fabulous for your relationship, but you'll want to limit your time with negative couples. • Pack a thermos of hot chocolate or a glass of wine, or even a six pack of beer, and sit on a bench overlooking a beautiful spot with fish and chips! Cheap, easy, quick, but is still spending time together and connecting.
• Check out a new pub, restaurant or bar.
• Pack a picnic and head to a park or beach, hire a boat or go for a walk.
• Try a craft together. Find a pottery or art class, and do something creative together. • Visit a comedy club.
• Get a couple’s massage.
• Go to a museum or art gallery.
Now that you understand the importance of dating your spouse again, the only thing you need to do is book a babysitter. Get out your diary, choose a date and start wooing your other half again. Remember to make it a regular thing. Weekly or monthly, set time aside, lock it down, schedule it, and make it happen!
Make sure to continue building your friendship and keep going on dates, which can be fun, romantic, or whatever you want them to be. They'll keep your relationship strong, which is the best gift you can give each other, AND your children!
*Asking for support from your family (or your chosen family) to take some time for yourself and your partner, can really help you to recharge.