Having a child with your partner is one of the most intense and intimate experiences you'll ever share together. And yet our culture tends to think of child-rearing as decidedly unromantic and unsexy. Sure, now that you and your partner are raising a baby, you share something deeper. But it also may seem like ages ago that you had that time for each another and the relationship — time to foster your romance and sexual connection.
With your little one needing your undivided attention and what seems like all of your time (not to mention sleep!), it may seem impossible to have any energy to give to one another.
It may even feel like the only time you communicate is to talk about the baby. Or worse, to argue because both of you are so frustrated, sleep-deprived, and overwhelmed.
But part of dealing with the changes after having a baby is to recognize them head-on, and adjust expectations. This doesn't mean "sucking it up" and owning that life's just going to get harder. Instead, it's about facing the facts: having a child is life-changing. And what this means, on the mot essential level, is that having a baby is going to change your relationship with your partner. After all, this relationship is a huge part of your life.
So the key is to find a way to create a "new normal" with your partner, to reconnect and start rebuilding your romantic relationship, post-baby.
Reconnecting with your partner is easy as long as you follow some simple, low-stress solutions. You can even think of these moments as mini at-home date nights.
1. Reconnect with a fun memory, and make it happen again.
To start, find one thing you and your partner used to do together before baby. It may be listening to music and dancing around the living room, or playing a card-game with a glass of wine. Whatever it may be, find a way to recreate your fun memory at home, maybe when the baby is asleep. Think of something you can do together to recharge and have fun, rather than using more energy to think of grand date night ideas or complicated plans for how to spice up your sex life. Putting pressure on these things won't make it any easier, so take the time you have together to relax and laugh a little.
2. Don't do anything.
In other words, commit to the act of trying to relax — together. Now, I get that the word "relax" may be foreign and perhaps even laughable to the both of you at this point. But do what you can, and within reason. Leave the dishes in the sink and let the baby paraphernalia lie around for a moment. Sit together, even if it is just five minutes, and just be.
3. Ditch the nursery rhymes in favor of something else.
Turn off the kid-friendly TV shows (one can only handle so much of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse!) and flip on a favorite TV show or movie together. When the baby is asleep, it can be incredibly restorative, even if it's just for a half hour, to turn off the baby soundtrack in favor of something a little more sophisticated. A little adult time goes a long way.
4. Treat yourselves.
Indulge together in an old favorite night time treat like frozen yogurt or some freshly popped popcorn. Remember what it feels like yourselves, as adults, to tap into that kid-like desire for treats. And treat yourself. Simple pleasures will be restorative, even if only slightly, I guarantee it.
5. Open your ears, eyes and hearts.
Listen to your partner and openly share with one another about how you are both feeling post-baby — the good, the bad, and everything in between. Most importantly, validate each other’s experience. You are in this together.
These five simple steps will help get you started, but be open to discovering your own low-key romantic date ideas with your partner. Finding simple moments to reconnect is much more realistic and will take the pressure off. Right now the two of you are focused on taking care of your new baby, and that will take most of your resources. But this is temporary.
Finding a new normal in your romantic relationship will take time. Recognize that even though your relationship with your partner has significantly changed with your new addition, you can form a new relationship that feels good, more connected and one you both enjoy.