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Written by: Katya on 16/06/17
First comes love, then comes marriage… then what? Sometimes adding kids to the “you + me” equation means that a couple stops acting like – well, a couple. Nap schedules, bath times, and the fun of toddler tantrums can drain the energy that used to be spent planning and doing things together.
Should that discourage young couples from looking forward to being parents? Not at all. With a little know-how and planning ahead, it is possible to avoid putting the two of you on the back-burner while you manage life with little ones. There are so many little things that are taken for granted in the pre-kid season of dating and marriage. Being mindful and bringing those things back into the routine is a very important part of making your relationship the priority it should be. The following marriage tips can help keep spouses looking forward to a future of growing old together.
As moms, we love the idea of routines. They are a healthy thing to promote in kids because kids love structure. But what about the grownups? Turns out, routine is a good thing for parents, too. Work, errands, responsibilities… they all pile up, threatening to squeeze “us time” out of the schedule. It takes planning to make sure time for mom and dad ends up on the calendar. Set yourself up for success by just putting it on the schedule first! Have routine date nights or activities planned that are agreed upon non-negotiables. Everything else in life is going to push its way onto your to-do list. Don’t let something important like quality time with your spouse gets bumped off in favour of something “urgent” or unexpected.
A fun idea to add to the routine is going out for a “dessert first” date night! Bring on a babysitter to put the kids to bed while you’re out for coffee and chocolate mousse. Then come home after they are asleep to enjoy a quiet dinner together. It seems counter-intuitive, but honestly, it’s a win-win. Kids tend to behave better for others than they do for mom and dad, especially for habitual battles like bedtime. And when was the last time you got to have a quiet dinner together at home? If you have someone nearby that can take them overnight, all the better. If not, then this is a great way to keep their bedtime routine on schedule while allowing for ample time alone together.
A romantic (and affordable) getaway!
Camping? Without the kids? You bet. It takes a lot of work to put together a camping trip. From scheduling a couple nights for the kids to be with grandparents or at a friend’s house, to making all the gear and food preparations, there is no doubt that this is the kind of activity in which you really have to invest yourself. But once you get out to a great location, enjoying the quiet of nature and each other’s company, all that hard work pays off. And, if you have the gear already, the cost of your romantic getaway is only your food and the tiny expense of a campsite.
If your budget has room for it, a staycation in a nearby hotel can be a great way to spend time together, too. However you decide to do it, make sure your getaway is really a getaway. When you are planning time alone with your spouse, some really good marriage advice is to unplug! Turn off (or even leave home) any devices. Don’t pack your work-related stress. All the things that distract you at home need to stay there. As far as you are concerned, this time is 100% about your spouse. If both of you have that focus, then it’s sure to be a home run staycation.
Have a “couples” mindfulness practice.
Taking time to focus on your centre is critical to keeping your attitude where it should be. Can you do this as a couple? Certainly. Perform a check-up on your marriage like your paediatrician does for your child. Go for a walk, or make a dessert – whatever will set the right mood. Create a calm environment, and set aside time with your spouse to ask questions like, “How do you think we are doing as a couple?” “Is there anything that we could do to improve our relationship from your point of view?” Newsflash: fights happen because these questions don’t get asked enough. If there has been any pent up frustration that one spouse or the other doesn’t have time to let surface during a normal day, having these neutral moments happen with positive motives and a calm environment allows them to surface with the least abrasiveness. This may sound like an intimidating prospect, but if it is practiced regularly then it is usually a positive experience. It may not sound as exciting as a romantic getaway. But practicing mindfulness regarding your relationship is really the best advice for a healthy marriage.
Start a story together.
Whether you jump online and find a series of audiobooks, or head to the library and select a few titles to read aloud, one way to escape reality with your special someone is to get into fiction. Find an author, you both love. This takes time and experimentation to find out more about your individual and collective tastes. The fun of taking turns doing shoulder rubs and reading aloud after the kids have gone to bed will bring your focus back on each other while getting your mind off of stressors. It’s a healthier alternative to screen-time, which has the tendency to pull a person’s focus into a virtual environment rather than encouraging him or her to focus on who else is in the room. Even taking 15 minutes to enjoy a story together can be just what the doctor ordered after long days with the kids or co-workers. Not into fiction? Maybe you take that time for a shared hobby, a game, etc. Whatever interests you can develop as a couple that will be the highlight of your day together – invest in it!
The best part about being married is the way the relationship evolves and changes over time. Take time to really enjoy the dynamic you have with your spouse in whatever stage your marriage is in. These marriage tips will help you make the most of your time together. Let’s recap:
Create simple routines so time together is made a priority.
Every once in awhile, get away and unplug!Develop shared interests and get invested in them.
Remember, your relationship sets the standard for the kind of relationship your children will look for when they grow up. If they learn early on that it’s important to put your spouse first, and look for a spouse that will do the same, you have created a legacy of healthy marriages in your children. And that is worth the investment!
What would you suggest as a fun way for spouses to spend quality time together? Share with us in the comments section!
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