Ah, Valentine’s Day. It’s that time of the year for (cheesy) exchanges and declarations of love. For most of us married parents with young kids? Not so much. Gone are the days of mindless gazing into each other’s eyes over candlelit dinners.
Dinners now consist of carrot puree splattered hair, or a game of who can finish their vegetables first. Hardly a conducive environment for sparks to fly.
Research shows that 67% of couples see their marital satisfaction plummet post-baby. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are tips to help keep that flame burning even after kids.
1. Put the kids second!
When your little one is dependent on you for most things, most of your time will be dedicated catering to your kids. And your spouse is usually the last person in your list of priorities. As annoying as it may sound, it really should be the other way around.
We’re not talking about prepping your partner’s dinner first or making sure his clothes are cleaned before anyone else. More importantly, it is about prioritising your relationship. You will be better parents if you are a better couple. Your children will see what real love is all about, which will lead to a sense of safety and security.
2. Know your partner’s love language
The famous five love languages– physical touch, acts of service, quality time, words of affirmation, and gifts giving are different ways each of us shows love. People tend to give love the way they would naturally prefer to receive love.
So for those of you who are feeling unloved and yearning for more hugs and kisses (or a sparkling diamond), take heart that your spouse’s way of showing love could be in the generous amount of time spent tending the garden or mopping the floors. Not the sexiest form of showing love, but realistic and very practical (especially for those of us who are running on a few hours of sleep).
You could try out this quiz together for fun. You might actually find it useful in maintaining that spark!
3. Keep date nights exciting
We know how important date nights are to keep the sparks flying. However, it is equally important to keep those nights out interesting – not just have that usual meal and movie in one of our overcrowded shopping malls. Even better, take turns engaging in each other’s interests as you try something new. Who knows, you might discover that you actually enjoy some of your partner’s hobbies.
If you need some inspiration, check out makchic’s list of unconventional ideas for Valentine’s.
4. Call on your village
Realistically, having some quality ‘us time’ is only feasible if there is someone to watch the kids. Call on the grandparents if they are able to help out. It would be an excellent opportunity for them to get in some bonding time as well. If the gramps aren’t available, there are a host of trusted babysitting services available out there, such as Kiddocare, that you could engage.
5. Take a break from each other
As much as it is crucial to reconnect with each other, having time away from each other can help keep the sparks flying too. Take time out to work out with your friends or go shopping in peace and quiet. Let your husband retreat into his man cave and promise not to bang on the door for a couple of hours.
Being apart could give you a chance to recharge and reinvest in your family and your relationship.
6. Communicate, communicate, communicate
Keep the communication open. It would certainly help if you could talk about your expectations, not only as a couple but as parents as well. It may require a great deal of patience and humility to go through this, but it will keep the relationship alive.
Don’t forget to talk about fun things too! Take some time out of your day to have a conversation about anything besides the kids, work or money. We go through different stages in life, you would be surprised to find out new things about each other even after many years of marriage.
7. Stop comparing!
Nothing on social media is real! We all know we only put the best version of ourselves on Instagram, so stop comparing what Karen’s husband gave her for Valentine’s or how Bob’s wife looks like after three kids. Try to not be sucked into using it as a measure of a successful relationship. Be the best version of yourself in real life and you will be far happier.
As Michelle Obama wisely said, “marriage is a choice you make every day.” It is a lifetime commitment and can be a fun adventure with all its peaks and troughs. Let’s try to keep the sparks flying along the way. Happy Valentine’s Day!
By Elaine Yeoh
Elaine is a mummy of two who moved from the financial world to become an early childhood educator. She loves travelling, books and her cup of tea to unwind after a long day of diapers, school runs and pretend play.