Happy Mother's Day! Did you ever have mixed feelings on Mother's Day? I did, especially when I could not celebrate with everyone I love. But I have learned to accept reality and enjoy life every moment I have.
Last month, I visited our son's family. I was totally in love holding my grandbaby and playing with his Big Sister and Big Brother. This month, James and I traveled to the East Coast. After some sweet fellowships with Christian brothers and sisters, we spent a few days with my brother's family before staying at the home of James' sister. We even got to celebrate Mother's Day together. Mom never lived long enough to see how her three children would turn out. I wish she could see us now!
Starting a family is exciting. However, no one is prepared for all the changes that come with adding children into the mix. Your relationship is going to be tested as you figure out what "normal" means now. It can seem impossible to invest attention and energy into your marriage. However, with just a bit of effort, the two of you can become even closer.
What Do You Expect From You?
The reality of not enough sleep can leave you feeling that you will snap if even one more thing has to be done! Before the baby (or two or three), things like having a tidy house or cooking your best dish for a potluck dinner may have been something you took for granted. Give yourself permission to say "No" to those things.
It isn't only the expectations you put on yourself you need to consider. Your spouse is going through as much change as you are, as you each try to figure out what it means to be a parent. Common areas of conflict include:
- Household chores -- "where did all the laundry come from!"
- Parenting styles -- "but my mother always said..."
- Caring for the baby -- "it's your turn to get up..."
- Getting time away -- "if I don't get out of this house..."
- Feeling neglected -- "the baby gets all your attention..."
What Can Be Done To Stay Close Together?
Make an effort to make each other feel special. It can help to think back to what you did when you were first falling in love. Things like little love notes, simple gifts like a flower from the garden, sincere appreciation for completing household chores, or just snuggling can help both of you stay connected. Even the smallest expressions of love can help you remember all the things about each other that you cherish.
Commit to time for the two of you. Try to spend at least 15 minutes per day doing something together. It is easiest to find time when your little one is asleep. Turn off the television, laptop, iPad, and smart phone and pay attention to each other. Share a song, a shower, a funny story, hold hands, cuddle, talk a bit about what is going on or do any other activity that helps you feel closer together.
Take time off. Parenting is just like any job: people need time off to avoid burn out. This can be anything from one parent caring for the children while the other takes a soak in the tub to a guy or girl's night out. By taking turns, you can both get some quality breaks while knowing that your little ones are in good hands. This will allow you to return to the work of parenting feeling refreshed.
Plan for a regular date night. It is important to have some grown up time without the kids. This is when having a good support system is important. Quality childcare can be provided by family members, by trading off with other couples, or by people you know and trust in your community. Then enjoy your free time, knowing that your children are in good hands.
Make an effort to make your time together special. Take an extra few minutes with your appearance, set aside any worries and simply have fun. Laughing together can be especially beneficial if you've been feeling pretty serious lately. Even an old standby like dinner and a movie can be special. Most importantly -- don't let the kids be the only thing you talk about.
It may seem like a lot of work but investing effort in your relationship will reinforce your foundation and allow you to keep working together as loving partners and parents. Remember God knows what is best for His creation!
And He (Jesus) answered and said to them, "Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'?..." (Matthew 19:4-5)
Author's content used with permission, © Claire Communications