"Kids, bills, laundry...what about us?" Does this sound familiar?
Life with kids I've heard some people say "Kids come first. They are always the priority." Well, yes...and no. You may be wondering how a parenting and stepfamily coach could respond that way. After all, isn't parenting my focus?! Here's how I look at this: Of course the kids are an important priority! It's our job to make sure they are loved, fed, healthy, and safe. As their parents, we need to make sure they are nurtured, encouraged, guided (yes, this means disciplined), and raised to be contributing, kind adults. Just as important
Remember that "once upon a time" I mentioned? Well, that's important too! Being a parent is wonderful and difficult and a million other things wrapped into family life. We have so many things on our to-do list when we become parents. Calendars get filled with play dates, school schedules, after school activities and so much more. Many couples forget who they were before parenthood. It's not an intentional decision, life just gets busy. You look at your partner as another set of hands to help get things done. You lose "us" in the chaos. What's really at stake
When life gets busy you forget about the little things you used to do for and with each other. You lose the bond that made you a couple to begin with. Here's where I disagree with the "Kids always come first" thought. When you put your relationship on the back burner you lose the strength of your partnership. You begin to feel like your identity is only defined by your parenting role as "Mom" or "Dad." The busy days can have you falling into conversations about the kids, the house, the bills without ever asking, "How are you?" and really listening to the answer. You forget to connect on an emotional level because by the end of the day you're both exhausted. You want to care, but you're running on empty and don't have the energy to worry about another thing. You are losing a critical piece of the family dynamics, the piece that was the start of your family to begin with! Most couples go through this, so don't panic! Occasionally putting your relationship first is good for the kids! Keeping your relationship healthy can be a priority without guilt. Nurturing your relationship is important for 2 very important reasons:
1. It strengthens your foundation so you can survive the "storms" that come.
2. It models a healthy relationship for your kids.
When your kids see the two of you having fun, being kind and thoughtful towards each other they learn to expect that in their own relationships. My parents were so great about the little things like getting each other a cup of coffee without being asked. For me, it demonstrated how much they cared for each other. It also offers a sense of security. We don't have money for date nights!
Taking care of your relationship doesn't have to cost a dime! Here's a few ideas:
Schedule time once a week to check in with each other without the kids around.