Families are busy. Busy helping with homework. looking after the house, the meals, the laundry and each other. Then there are work responsibilities, extra-curricular activities, and finding that elusive “unscheduled time”.
Something that often gets pushed aside in our busy lives is our relationship with our significant other.
I know in my early years of parenting I was subsumed by my babies and my constant state of exhaustion. Spending time with my husband was not high on my priority list – I mean we slept in the same bed every night, doesn’t that count?
Obviously laying next to each other, asleep, is not helping maintain a strong relationship. Relationships need work. Early years of parenting are exhausting and all parents can be forgiven for letting relationships slide during the new baby years.
But how do we reconnect once our children are old enough to start entertaining themselves?
Easy ways working parents can strengthen relationships:
Turn off the TV
My husband and I watch TV in the evenings after the girls go to bed. Often this is wasted time, and I end up heading to bed partway through a show I’m not really interested in watching.
Lately, we’ve been using this time to chat about our days. With the girls growing up we’re discussing things like letting them be home alone, or strategies to help Emma figure out how to get her homework done.
Using the evening time (short as it may be) to reconnect and share about your days is a simple way to strenghten your marriage. And if you enjoy watching TV, just schedule one or two nights a week – you’ll feel closer to your spouse in no time.
Lean on family and friends (if possible)
My girls go to church with my mother-in-law on Sunday mornings. Often they’ll stay with her all day, giving my husband and I time to have a “date.” We’ll see a movie or go out for lunch – or both!
We also have been blessed with great babysitters. Getting out without the kids is necessary for my own sanity, before I even factor in time with my spouse. Finding someone amazing to care for your kids can give you piece of mind when you do splurge on a night out.
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Use the small moments
Much like the evening time wasted in front of the tv, your days will have pockets of useful time.
A few nights a week both my girls dance at the same time. We often divide and conquer at these times, but some weeks we sit together at the dance studio. This is another opportunity to catch up with each other, or go for a short walk together and enjoy the outdoors.
Do you take car trips often? My girls are excellent car sleepers. When we know they’re sound asleep in the backseat we’ll chat about anything and everything in life. This is also a great way to help each other stay awake after a busy travelling day.
A few more quick ways to reconnect:
- Text each other during your workday
- Cook together
- Take a family walk and let the kids explore while you meander hand-in-hand
- Give a proper hug and kiss before you part for the day
- Actively listen – put away the phones when there’s time to chat
How do you stay connected with your partner? Admittedly, I don’t do enough of these suggestions with my husband. But the girls are older now and we are slowing getting back to having time for “us.”
All relationships take work. Understanding each other, and making time to really connect will help you be a team for your family. Despite often being very busy, working parents can strengthen relationships – it’s important stay on the same page and find those small moments to celebrate each other.