Sunday, 4 February 2018

Nurturing Your Romantic Relationship while Parenting Littles

Anyone else feeling like this task is a little more than a tiny bit daunting?
Let's be honest. At this stage in the parenting game, Valentine's Day reminds me that on February 15th, we are going to score big time with some very discounted chocolates which we will eat very very quietly at 8pm while we hope our children sleep soundly all through the night.

Ahhhh... romance. 

Life with another real live person, jobs, responsibilities and kids doesn't always follow a commercial holiday schedule, does it? Last year around this time, I talked about what this tired mama really wants for Valentine's Day but this year, I am trying to focus on how to show my man a little extra love (and a little less lamenting) at this stage of marriage and parenting. 

While there's nothing wrong with a great date night and an overabundance of chocolates and flowery romance, I can't sustain that sort of momentum, especially when I can barely remember to move the laundry from the washer to the dryer. In fact, I'll be right back...

Plus, after enduring NURTURING two small children all day, I feel less inclined to be nurturing to anyone (myself included) and more inclined to lock the bathroom door and eat ice cream. 

So, on that note, here are 3 small DOABLE ways I'm working to nurture my relationship with my husband this year. 

1. Honey, Do... The Text. 

Am I the only partner who sends a loving text every day? Here's a small sampling of my caring and thoughtful gems. I haven't seen them on any candy hearts yet this year, but feel free to pin them for later. 

"Your children are horrible people. Help."

"You said you'd be home two hours ago. Where are you?"

"The tire on the car is flat." 

"The baby flushed a toy down the toilet."

"We need more garbage bags, STAT."

"I quit."

You get the idea. I am sure that when my husband hears that special ding during his busy and stressful day, he races to respond to his adoring wife. I know every interaction doesn't have to be butterflies and cupcakes, but I've made a conscious effort to rein in the negativity instead of verbally unloading on the person who really can't do much about the situation while he tries to provide for our family.

I definitely still fail at this often, but I've tried to change two things about how I text Nathan. 

Firstly, I'm learning to encourage and engage. Maybe I will send a funny photo of the kids and ask how his day is going without a rant about mine. Maybe I'll tell him something that is true and kind and uplifting. Maybe I'll send a funny meme. Mainly, I am trying to keep in mind (in action) that we are both doing our part and that this guy is on my team. 

Secondly, instead of the virtual to-do-list that he can't do right now anyway, if I have something that really needs done, I'll make a note of it to talk to him later. Physically writing it down takes care of my need to communicate it and often, I'll either forget about whatever felt so pressing in the moment, do it myself or talk about it a lot more calmly six hours down the road. 

2. DIY ... The Date Night

If I waited around for my husband to plan the perfect evening... well, let's just say we'd be rocking on a porch swing, waiting for our home care nurse to feed us our Ensure. 

Nathan's the king of everyday gestures. He is consistently incredible. He will clean up, sweep, do dishes, put the kids to bed, never complain and absolutely do everything that needs to be done every single day but setting up things outside of the everyday norm just isn't his department. 

When I realized I was harbouring the ridiculous idea that love is measured in romantic gestures rather than appreciating the way my man shows love EVERY SINGLE DAY, things looked up, big time.  

I like a good date night out so now I book a babysitter and put it in the calendar and Nathan always looks forward to it too; he just doesn't naturally schedule it in. We both enjoy the time away from the kids together instead of sitting at home with me stewing over the fact that he hasn't planned something and him wondering why his wife is unusually peacefully quiet. 

3. I Release You. 

When we were in Kenya, it was incredibly rude to leave someone's home when you were out for a visit unless they released you. It might mean sitting after supper for four hours, but until you heard "I release you," you were on their clock. 

Sometimes I start getting miserable and anxious and then I remember that I don't ACTUALLY have to wait for Nathan to release me. I can just say, "I need a time out." Moms, why do we find that so hard to do? With two crazy busy little people, sometimes love means scheduling in time when you just turn to the other person and say, "RUN!"

While I have adapted to taking a much needed mom's afternoon out or supper away, I am just learning that after being at work all day, Nathan might be hesitant to look me in the eye say that he needs a break. He might need me to say "I release you." It doesn't have to be long. It doesn't have to be grand. It can just be the permission to check out for a while and do something outside of work or family, letting him come back more appreciative, less stressed and ready to be present. 

So, that's that. This year my Valentine is getting a little less nagging, a little more encouragement, guilt free date nights and some alone time and you know what? Maybe a little hot and steamy action too... 

From my steam mop. What?

Ahhhh, real life. 

What's the best present you've given your spouse for Valentine's Day?

How do you keep the romance rolling? 

Let me know below!

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