Remember when you just had each other? Me neither; it feels so long ago. My husband and I have two young children. We’ve been together for over 15 years now, married for 6+ years. The last four years we fell into the fog of parenthood. Another human being (2 of them in our case) counts on us 24/7, 365 days a year. There is no break from being a parent. You may think you can’t focus on anything else, but you can, and you should make it a requirement for survival. You’re a parent, yes - but you’re a human first. I’ve found the following three things to work well.
- Be selfish. It’s important to first take care of yourself. Like the airlines instruct, put on your oxygen mask first before assisting others. Find ways to do something - anything - for yourself, and do it daily. For me, it looks like getting up an hour earlier each day to walk, journal or drink coffee. It was painful to set and obey the alarm, but it’s worth it and now I don’t like to go without that me-time.
- Lift up your partner. Once you’ve ensured that you are taken care of, take the time to care for your spouse. He or she is most likely drowning as much as you are and may not even know it. Gift them space of their own - help them to find time (yes, that may mean taking one for the team to make it happen). For my relationship, it means allowing him alone time to play video games 3-4 times a week after work.
- Get away, together. Plan a getaway. It doesn’t have to be long or expensive, but you have to plan it in advance. A getaway trip is defined as an overnight stay where you can forget (temporarily) that you’re parents and just be yourselves, together. This means spending the night away from your children. Let me tell you, this has been life-changing for me and my husband. We have something to look forward to and it gives us an opportunity to hit the refresh button. Thankfully for us, we have amazing family who are willing to watch our kids. Others might consider a trip swap with another family. You have their kids over for a night and another night they do the same for you. This is a no-cost way of having a getaway trip without even leaving your own home. Let’s call it a mini-stay-cation. We’ve also leveraged work trips by tagging a night together on the tail-end of one. Other times we’ve planned 3-5 night vacations, alone. Some people think we’re crazy, but I don’t think so. Of course, we miss our kids like crazy when we’re gone and yes, we spend a majority of the time talking about them, but it allows us to recharge while also operating from a place of gratitude.
Have any other tips to share?