Dear Is This Normal,
Hi, I have a one-year-old daughter and I really love her. There is only one thing that I find very difficult being a new parent: the time I can spend with my wife. Sometimes we are so caught up in the daily rat race that we don’t find any time to spend together. Is this normal? Do you have any tips and tricks on how we could improve that?
Out of Time
Dear Out of Time,
There are so many changes and adjustments that happen when you have a baby, and I think you just nailed one of the major ones on the head. A LOT of couples struggle with this, believe me. This is totally normal (and understandable!) and you and your wife are not alone. Kids require SO much time, energy and attention, and all of that has to be pulled from somewhere! Much of the time, couples sacrifice in their relationship in order to keep it pushing as parents. You’re not doing anything wrong, I want to assure you. In fact, you’re doing so much right by recognizing that this is happening and taking steps to improve it—kudos! Making time for your partner is SO important, and it is 100% doable, even with a little one at home.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that finding time when time is in short supply takes a conscious effort. Gone are the days of free time—when you have a kid, all of what used to be ‘free’ time is allocated elsewhere. So you really have to make an effort to carve out little bits of time where you can and then decide, as a couple, that you will make the most of those small pockets of time together.
At the beginning of the week, sit down together and look at the upcoming schedule. Move some stuff around, deprioritize where you can so you can prioritize elsewhere. Get really granular with your schedules so they can align as much as possible, and you don’t spend the week like two ships passing in the night. This takes work, and it takes sacrifice from both of you (maybe you both skip work outings so you can spend that time together, for example). But sacrificing in some areas so you can thrive in others is worth it.
The other thing to keep in mind is that you need to start thinking smaller and more outside the box when it comes to what you consider ‘time spent together’. Are you going to be able to go out on date nights every week, or weekend getaways when the mood strikes? Probably not! But that doesn’t mean that the time you do have with one another can’t be special or impactful. A private dinner together at home after the little one goes to bed, or a spicy movie night with wine and fancy snacks, for example! Breakfast in bed before your daughter wakes up in the morning, or a quiet cuppa and catch-up during nap times on the weekend. It’s less about what you do with the time you have together, and more about using that time to connect one-on-one.
I will say, it gets easier in a lot of ways as your kid gets older! As your daughter becomes more independent and requires less of your constant time and attention, things start to ease up. But it also gets harder in other ways, as you start trying to deal with a whole bunch of other time-intensive stuff, like play dates, school and homework, extracurricular activities, and whatnot. It’s a constant balancing act, everyday, until they have flown the coop. And at that point, you’ll look around and wonder WTF you’re supposed to do with all your free time. Keep at it, Time. Find little pockets when you and your wife can connect, and make those pockets count. In my experience, reevaluating how you spend time with your partner and making each moment REALLY count will only improve your relationship overall.
Quality Over Quantity,
Is This Normal