by Tamara Patterson
It’s date night. Although you are excited, it’s just not how it used to be. You think back to those evenings you painted your toenails, put on a sexy outfit and off the two of you went exploring the newest restaurant in town. You had plenty of time to even see a movie after or get together with friends for a late happy hour. But things are different now, and you’re learning to date your partner after babies.
You’d be happy if even one of your pre-pregnancy outfits still fit properly. You feel tired and perhaps the best gift today would be sleep. Just sleep. Instead you shower for the first time in days, get dressed, and hope the sitter shows up on time.
Going on a date with your partner while caring for little ones can feel like a chore. Like most things that are worth anything, it takes commitment and discipline.
The bigger picture
Let’s zoom out for a moment. It’s not about tonight. It’s about your life together and learning to prioritize your relationship. The needs of the little ones will always fill the cracks of time. It seems like you spend the remaining time trading off relaxing or pursuing your separate passions, and soon your relationship is reduced to teammates, not lovers.
In some ways dating your spouse means taking care of yourself so that you can give from a full cup. We live well, so that we can love the ones we care about well. Think about what that might mean for you: perhaps it means eating healthy, nourishing food. Perhaps it means taking a shower and getting dressed even if you don’t have plans to leave the house. Perhaps you need your daily fix of exercise, time to read or be on social media. As a parent, it is so important to stay true to yourself and not get lost in the daily demands of life. When you find yourself attractive, that will create a greater desire to be pursued by your partner.
Creating a culture of romance and pursuit
Here are a couple of unique ideas to connect with your partner that don’t require a ton of money, time, or even the need for a babysitter:
- Connect: Turn off Netflix and talk about what’s important to you; about the highs and lows of parenting, resolve any outstanding conflicts, hold hands, look into each other’s eyes and share some of your favorite memories together.
- Dream: Start dreaming about your future again and envision how you will get there.
- Cook: Pick a random recipe on Pinterest and cook it for a date-at-home.
- Learn: Watch a TED talk or documentary on something that interests you and discuss it.
- Touch: Kiss, hug, and hold each other. Give each other a massage.
- Text: Send each other a little text saying what you like about each other. Show your partner that even today, you would still pursue and chose them all over again.
- Be Present: Leave your phones, sit on your front porch and watch the sunset for a while.
- Show Appreciation: Let your partner know what you love about them. Try out this activity together.
- Find some more ideas here.
Back to tonight. This can be the start of a brand new version of you as a couple. See, nobody is born a parent. We all grow into parenthood. The same is true for romance post-babies. It’s different but in so many ways better, more intimate and deeper because of the experiences you’ve shared. Now, go get ready and show your partner how much you value your relationship.
Tamara Patterson, LCPC, CADC is a therapist in private practice, college professor and writer. She and her husband have three little kids. Tamara is passionate about helping others live well, so they can love and lead the ones they care about well. You can learn more at newtreecenter.com or follow her encouraging posts on Instagram.