When was the last time you went on a date with your spouse? Was it before you had kids? Was it so long ago you honestly can’t remember where you went or what you did? If so, that’s okay. We were guilty of that for a long time, and some seasons of life, we are still guilty of it.
I have been asked a lot over the last year what it was like going from one kid to two kids, and I think I was mainly getting that question because my kids are only 20 months apart. Honestly, most of the time I’m sure I was asked out of pity – people would see the bags under my eyes or me trying to load my toddler into a stroller with an infant strapped to my chest and feel the need to “check in”. We all go through that stage though, whether it be with one kid, two kids, or five kids. There’s always a survival mode period with zero concern for yourself, and the priority is diapers, food, naps, repeat. The other thing that takes a backseat during that period: your marriage. And, if we’re being completely transparent here, sometimes your marriage doesn’t reach your radar again for months and months after a baby arrives until you’ve gotten to the point where you’re more roommates who take turns giving baths than two people in a loving relationship.
When I had my second baby, I was prepared for my brain to only have kids on it for awhile, but I wasn’t prepared for how much harder it was this time around to break through that survival period and re-enter life and relationships. We all try to find ways to be “human” again after becoming parents, but for me I forgot to use the best relationship I had – my marriage – to help me do that. It’s easy to take for granted the people who are there for you every single day without wavering, and it’s easy to forget that those relationships need attention too.
It takes time to realize and accept that being a good mom, good friend, and good wife can all co-exist. I felt mom guilt to the core before my second son was born (I’ll write about that some other time), and it has taken me until well, probably now if we’re being real, to release some of the guilt I feel when I leave the kids to have coffee with a friend or get my hair done or *gasp* go on a date with my husband. My family was built on my relationship with my husband, and if there is anything I have learned since having two kids it’s that my mental health and attitude about the day are 100x more positive if my marriage is at a solid place. So go on, date your spouse. Remove yourself from the roles of mom and dad for a few hours (except, you know, those “just checking in” texts you will send every 30 minutes). Have a conversation about something important to you without the added input of a 3 year old (which usually comes in the form of dinosaur noises or asking you to wink). Take yourself out of your comfort zone with your spouse because chances are, you still have a lot to learn about each other, especially since becoming parents. There are tons of cute lists of ‘questions to ask your spouse’ or ‘get to know your husband’ blogs and games out there. We found a fun one on Amazon called Table Topics Couples: Questions to Start Great Conversations. It has been a good ice breaker for us (that sounds really silly to say), because some nights you know you want to talk and have a meaningful conversation with your spouse, but you don’t know where to start or even what you want to talk about. Maybe not everyone feels that way, but after a long day with two very young children, I often want a good, soulful conversation but I don’t have the brain power to think of something, and the cards are helpful.
Speaking of dating your spouse, Nick and I went for a morning hike last week while my mom was visiting. It may have looked a lot different than our dates 5 years ago, but it was time that was appreciated and meaningful even if it was before 8 AM. It’s taken us three years to get comfortable asking our parents to babysit the boys for a few hours when they visit so we can have some alone time. We have always felt guilty because our families have to drive or fly from states away to see us, and ditching them so we can go have fun is the last thing we thought we should be doing. We (or at least I) eventually realized that 1 – our parents want the time with our kids and 2 – us having a strong relationship is not only important for us, but it’s important for our kids and our parents to see. So, we hiked a not-so-kid-friendly trail. We talked without distraction. We realized we were too out of shape to do more than one hard trail so we went and got ice cream at 10 AM.
If you are in this stage of life (the one where you look at your spouse like you haven’t seen them in 10 years sometimes), I feel you. Kids change so much about all of the relationships around you, even the ones within your home. It’s hard to figure out how to prioritize your marriage again after kids, but you’ll be thankful you did. Someday when your kids have healthy, stable relationships, they will be thankful you did too because you provided them with a great example of a positive relationship. 💕