Having a baby is a wonderful, life changing event and is tough going, you get warned of how it can effect your relationship and put a strain on it but you don’t really understand how until you’re in the mix of it.
Recently my husband and I realised what trap we’d fallen into, we’d thrown ourselves into trying to be such good parents that we neglected our husband and wife duties. We’ve been so focused on Baby P’s needs that our relationship has become mum and dad and not husband and wife. We’d become passing ships stuck in Groundhog Day without even realising. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve had some wonderful happy times as a family and weekend time together has been good, however we’ve really felt like the working week drags.
My husband leaves for work around 7am returning as late as 6:30 sometimes, I usually pass little miss P to him giving myself a much needed break from baby time and allowing him bonding time as he’s missed his daughter all day, then the evening proceeds with juggling cooking and eating our evening meal, feeding baby, bathtime fun with daddy and any other bits and bobs that need doing. As a hater of sleep getting her down for the night can take up some time and before we know it it’s time for us to settle in for the evening. I hold my hands up now I’ve also been guilty of going to bed with baby P to help myself get some shut eye before the night feeds start. This has meant that we’ve become passing ships during the week and find we spend little time with each other. Weekends can also be like this as my step son has several hobbies that require one of us to drop him off and pick him up plus he has a weekly paper round in the town where his mum lives which means one of us driving him round on that too if the weekend falls that way. We don’t not begrudge doing any of these things for him and wouldn’t change our parental duties for either child their needs come first. What we need to do though is ensure that we are finding a way to slot on some us time. Nothing major but simple things like, half an hour on the sofa watching some trash on the box or managing to schedule dinner so that we can sit at the table together whilst Baby P plays in her bouncer/jumperoo/play gym or (dare I say it) takes a nap!!
We’ve had some good times when my husband has taken a day off work here and there for us to have time together and we’ve enjoyed family time, it’s been bliss but we do need to ensure we settle into a better daily routine. We discussed it and have come up with plans of action to ensure we get a bit of us time and focus on us a bit more, I mean we even gave up Christmas presents for each other this year to focus on the kids. Actually w should’ve still treated each other, even if to only tokens just to keep ourselves as the couple we are. We became parents because we were a couple first.
At an antenatal class a midwife explained how emotional her job was, that she’d see us walk in a couple and leave as a family which is true and we are now a family with different priorities but we still need to ensure couple time and our relationship and happiness is high up on the rankings.
What makes it difficult for us is our parenting style and mindset, which maybe the same or different to others and I’m not saying either is better or criticising others, it’s just our chosen method and the impact it’s had on us. We don’t personally want to get babysitters on a regular basis, when we decided to have a baby we made a conscious decision to alter our lifestyle and make a significant reduction in nights out, weekends away, afternoon cocktails or dining out. We want to put our energies in family time, going for walks in the park, coffee and cake, trips to sensory rooms, soft play and petting zoos. However, we’ve neglected to find how our time would fit into that, we’ve developed routines that focus solely on baby P’s needs which yes are the most important as she is entirely dependent on us, but our happiness is important too, that makes us the good parents we want to be.
So, we’ve developed some simple strategies that don’t mean passing baby P from pillar to post and endlessly searching for willing babysitters (not quite ready for any overnight stays away yet) but ensure we get quality time. Simple things like staying up and extra hour or so of an evening, leaving the dishes to wash in the morning so we actually sit on the sofa and watch a programme together (even if we fall asleep doing so) rather than finishing our evening meal and pottering doing jobs etc before settling down for the night. We’ve committed to a long walk every Saturday and Sunday rather than once in awhile or just to get somewhere, so little missy can laze in her pram while we get quality conversation time together to chat about important things as well as total and utter crap! We’re also dedicating a take away or very simple easy cook dinner one night a week rather than the full blown home cooked meal from scratch, allowing us more time for each other (plus there’s always healthier choices from the local Chinese right?!?!?). These are just some examples, we’ve thought a few simple ways to ensure we regularly check in as husband and wife and don’t get stuck in a rut of being mummy and daddy all the time.
Obviously, we will on occasion call upon the mothership once in a blue moon and ask her to watch Baby P for an hour or two whilst we grab a grown up lunch without a car seat or changing back in tow but these will be rare and even though we’ve not done it it yet is probably something we should arrange. Because we are still husband and wife even though we’ve become mummy and daddy.