I don’t need to tell you how hard it is to stay sane when you spend all day with the 5 and under crowd. It’s easy to forget that you’re married, that you’re not only a mom, and that your relationship with your husband is essential. In fact, it’s essential to being a good mom.
I admit that I’m not sharing these ideas because I’ve learned this well. These are small things I’ve learned since entering motherhood, but I have a long way to go before making them habitual. In fact, I’ll probably bookmark this post myself as a personal reminder. Here are five ways to stay connected in the trenches of early parenthood.
1. Leave each other notes around the house. I’m a words person, but I can’t imagine anyone not liking a sweet little “I love you” written on the bathroom mirror with a dry erase marker. There are days when you and your husband might barely see each other – talk to each other via notes, cards, little surprises left in your coat pocket. Borrow your kids’ bath crayons and write on your shower wall. Write each other questions, like “What’s your idea of a perfect weekend away with me?” or “What’s your current favorite movie and why?”. Then answer when it’s your turn in the shower – and don’t forget to reciprocate with another question.
2. Go on dates. This is an obvious one, but moms of littles need the reminder that your kids will be fine without you for a short amount of time! Even if you’re nursing (like me, at the moment), make it a priority to head out the door with hubby in between feedings. It’s amazing what a two-hour Starbucks date down the street from your house will do to lift your spirits. Or if paying for a babysitter will break the budget (and grandmas don’t live nearby), put the kids down early and have dinner together. Enjoy something besides chicken nuggets and PB&J.
3. Schedule a business meeting. Sounds romantic, huh? But instead of constantly needing to talk bills, disciplinary tactics, and schedules, plan two business meetings a month just to talk these things. Then you’ll have talked about what you have to talk about, so that your evenings together can be about more relaxing and romantic things.
4. Read a book together. Not that a mom of preschoolers has volumes of time to read, but if you pick a short book, or an easy-to-read book, you can have your own little book club between the two of you. It will give you something “grown up” to talk about, and you can look forward to having an adult conversation that night while you’re finger painting during the day.
5. Snag some alone or girl time. Taking care of yourself will help you be a better mom and wife. Sometimes you need some time alone, just to read or journal, and sometimes you need to meet a girlfriend for coffee. Or both. We moms are so prone to putting us last on the priority list, but what does that do to our effectiveness as moms to our littles and wives to the ones we love?
6. Grace. Give it to yourself! I know I need to be better at giving it to me. Remember that the mommy-to-preschoolers stage is short. I’ve heard rumors that before too long, kids won’t need you as much, and you can actually think straight again. So remember on those days when all you’ve heard is Dora screaming, “Do you see the bananas? Yeah, there they are!”, and when you’re up to your elbows (literally) in poop, that the days are long but the years are short. When your hubby gets home, you might try laughing at how insane your day was instead of complaining. And ask him to help you laugh more often. He’ll enjoy his time with his wife more, and chances are, your kids will enjoy their mama.
Art by Jana Christy