I will openly admit, at the tail end of my pregnancy, I became a couch potato. When my husband would come home and tell me of a party or event that we were invited to, I tended to make excuses as to why I couldn’t go because I was resistant to going out in the heat and functioning due to me being uncomfortable. And because of that, my husband and I didn’t spend a lot of time together. He would go to the some of the events by himself, and when we were together, we just sat inside and ate take-out on the couch. We weren’t going out and having small date nights anymore like we used to, and I started to feel as if our marriage was somewhat suffering from it. And right when our son was born, I began feeling even more like a recluse because I felt like there was no way that I was leaving him nor was I taking him out of the house and risking him becoming sick. So, again, my husband was going places by himself, or we were just sitting inside focusing solely on our roles as parents and not investing any time into our marriage. That’s when I realized, we needed to get back into having date nights.
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There are so many people who have children that told us to make sure that we still maintain time for ourselves when baby comes. When we were told this, we would nod and say how we would, but also, we thought, we would be spending so much time together taking care of our baby that we wouldn’t need that extra time together. Boy, were we wrong.
Since bringing our son home, I have been home on maternity leave functioning like a full-time stay at home mom. Meanwhile, my husband heads off to work during the week – leaving before baby and I wake up and coming home right when he and I are getting ready for bed. I make it a point to put our son to bed and then spend an hour or so with my husband to hear about his day and, for me, to share with him what new things our son had done that day. The day to day has become overly routined, and we both began seeing it as somewhat as a problem.
Though being a parent is absolutely wonderful, and I wouldn’t change it for the world, we are still a married couple that need to maintain our relationship and make it last for the long-run. We need to make sure that we aren’t only identifying ourselves as parents, but as a couple and as individuals. So, we are making it a point to have a date night AT LEAST once a month. We are fortunate enough to have family around us that can watch our son, but if you don’t, begin your search for a local babysitter or a friend that wouldn’t mind watching your child for a few hours. There are great places to find babysitters such as Care.com and going on Facebook and finding local community mom groups – those groups are well known for providing recommendations and great reviews.
Then once you have a date and a babysitter set, take a deep breath, figure out what you are going to do (something even as simple as going out to eat at a restaurant) get yourself out of those sweats, spruce up, and then head out. It’s going to be hard leaving your baby, but, I promise, you’ll make it through. Then once out, follow some simple rules to keep yourself focused on your date night.
RULES FOR DATE NIGHT
1. Don’t talk about baby – This is your night to focus on each other and your marriage. You already focus so much time on taking care of your child and sharing each and every thing that he/she does every second, it’s okay to take a few hours and just talk about things like the house, some goals that you want reach really soon, what projects you can work on (we talk about campaigns for the blog since we work together on this) or even a possible summer vacation.
2. Create a ringtone especially for the babysitter – This is a tip I learned from a fellow mommy. Create a special ringtone that you can use for anytime that you head out for date night and assign it to the person who is watching your baby. Then put your phone away when you’re on date night. If the phone rings and it is any other ringtone other than the babysitter ringtone, don’t answer it and keep the phone away, you’ll know to pick up the phone if there is something going on with you baby. [If you’re in a situation like us where we have family members, like our parents, who both watch the baby at the same time, assign the ringtone to both of them.]
3. Bring your breast pump (if you are breastfeeding) – This is so that you don’t feel like you need to rush back immediately in order to pump or feed your baby right at the time that he/she usually eats. We have our son on a schedule, so we make sure to schedule our date nights so that I can feed him right before we leave. Then I leave a bottle of already thawed breastmilk in the diaper bag along with a lunch box that contains a frozen bag of breastmilk with an ice bag. The bottle is so that he is still fed on time and then the frozen is for if he needs more or if we end up staying out longer than what we had originally planned. Having the breast pump allows you to still pump during the time that you would normally feed him – thus maintaining your supply and alleviating any heaviness or leakage.
I also recommend making your own personal rules that are special between you and your significant other. By having these rules that are specific to you will make the nights special and give you all something to work on together and build upon.