Sometimes, I think back on the good old days. The days where we could walk into a store and not have to worry about bringing a car seat or a stroller. The days where we could just decide to go on a date at the last minute and not have to find a child-friendly place or a babysitter. And I can't talk about the good old days without thinking about how we could sleep in and play around without timing our lives around our young child. I took a lot for granted.
The transition from child-free to parenthood affects many areas of relationships, but our intimacy took the hardest hit. We haven’t figured it all out but are doing our best to strengthen our romantic relationship. I’ve learned that while intimacy takes effort, it’s worth working for. Below are a few ways to prioritize intimacy when you have young children.
I know, I know. This sounds super boring, but it doesn't have to be. Although we've been slacking lately, it worked for us. Pre-scheduling couples time can be silly enough that it becomes fun. The accompanying anticipation and excitement that comes with knowing it's almost time to hang out with your partner can be the best part. Nothing lets your partner know you enjoy them and they're worth prioritizing like making them a consistent part of your schedule.
Remember, children change things. The way that intimacy was experienced before you had children might be a complete 180 from how it is now. And that might require you to change your expectations.
Just because you’re tired and you may not have the energy to do all of the things you did before doesn't mean that you can't continue to develop your relationship. Your afternoon quickie might be replaced by family movies and cuddles. Examples of other dates that are great when you're a parent are board games, going for a walk together, or even just laughing and talking about your kid. It's different, but it doesn't have to be bad.
You’ll have to make adjustments to your intimacy routine, but remember that there's nothing wrong with that. Having a relationship with the ability to adapt to various stages is a good thing. Remember that this phase won't last forever but don't forget it's an essential part of your relationship journey.
You don't have to view the changes that happened to your style of intimacy as negative. It's important to embrace this change and understand that relations are not static, and can develop in many ways. You’ll learn things about your partner that you hadn't learned before. Ask questions and use this time to get to know each other better.
Children change families, but they also create them. Be open to accepting the good with the bad - there’s a lot worth celebrating. Roll with the punches, and find new ways to appreciate your partner.
About the author: Rochaun Meadows-Fernandez is a writer who specializes in sociology, health, and parenting. Her work has appeared in Healthline, Yes! Magazine, HuffPost, Allure, and many other publications. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter or check out her website.