Relationships after children - the topic seems to be quite a contentious one as so many people have differing opinions on how much of an effect becoming a parent has on them.
A recent survey discovered that while 85% of women stated that their partner was their best friend, 56% of them would like to feel more connected to their other half *
It's certainly something I can relate to as having 3 babies in 3 years as we have done leaves you with VERY little in the way of couple time.
Jon & I are lucky in a sense that both of us work from home and so we're able to spend a lot of time together, but time spent in the same room isn't always quality time spent connecting - 9 times out of 10 we'll barely have spoken a handful of sentences to each other by the end of the day as the entire day has been focused around the children, and anything we have discussed has most likely been child related.
To combat this, we make sure that we make a conscious effort to spend some "Us Time" together each day.
It can be difficult to achieve as our children are not the best sleepers and often by the time they're all in bed it will be past 9pm, and at least one or two of them will wake again at various points in the night - so "quality time" can be a challenge!
But we try to always set aside an hour or two to do something together - usually just something like sitting together to watch a TV show (Modern Family & The Middle are our favourites!) or a movie, or sometimes playing a board game - and we find that really helps us to connect.
Of course in an ideal world we'd love to have the chance to enjoy a regular "date night" and we do indulge in one about once a month when my parents are visiting to babysit and we can afford to go out for a nice meal and maybe a trip to the cinema or theatre - but it's not an option for us any more frequently than that due to childcare, and for many couples it's not an option at all.
With that in mind, here are a few suggestions for ways to make the most of your "couple time" together.
Take Up A Shared Hobby
If you're lucky enough to have access to a babysitter on a regular basis, consider taking up a hobby outside of the house that you can enjoy together - it could be something fitness related, perhaps joining a pub quiz or bowling team together, maybe taking up an evening class on a shared interest - whatever it is, as long as it's something you both enjoy that you can do together it will provide you with more of an opportunity to bond and give you plenty to talk about back at home! And having something that you can both look forward to together is great.
If you're not able to get out of the house regularly, could you come up with a shared interest you could partake in at home? Genealogy, painting, crafting - anything that you can do together to give you a shared interest is well worth looking into depending on your individual interests as a couple.
Even something as simple as listening to favourite musicians together can be great - Jon and I are both big music lovers and will often put some of our favourites on YouTube, which always ends up in us spending an hour or so chatting about songs and artists we love and reminiscing.
Easier said than done after a tough day with the kids of course, but laughter really is a great tonic and if you can find a way to laugh together then chances are you'll end up feeling closer - putting a stand up show on Netflix, watching a funny movie together, playing a silly board game...just a few ideas of ways to encourage a little laughter between you.
It's so important to be able to talk honestly and without reservation to your partner, about anything at all that's bothering you - whether it's problems at work, worries about the children, or worries about your own relationship or sex life. Intimacy is one area that can take a bit of a tumble after children for many reasons - from lowered body confidence to difficulty reconnecting post birth, there are so many potential issues that can arise and discussing them with your partner is key to moving past them together. One such problem can be vaginal dryness post-birth which is an issue that effects many women but that is rarely discussed - this can make being intimate a painful and uncomfortable experience rather than a pleasurable one but there are things you can do to help - Vagisil’s new ProHydrate range relieves intimate dryness so that you can feel comfortable, confident and enjoy intimacy when you want to.
Little Gestures Matter
It's easy to get bogged down in the humdrum of life, but don't forget to make time for romantic or kind gestures. Bringing home flowers may be a cliche but in most cases they WILL be appreciated - particularly when they're given for no reason at all! Offering to run your partner a nice hot bubble bath, offering up a foot rub, making their favourite dinner or bringing home a surprise takeaway are all things that don't take a great deal of effort but can go a long way to making your partner feel special and appreciated.
How do you ensure that you stay connected with your partner post-children? I'd love to hear your ideas!
The Vagisil ProHydrate range is available at Boots and Superdrug
[* Research commissioned in February 2016 by Vagisil among 1,502 women aged 25+]
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