Before I got married, I remember hearing the term ‘date night’ and thinking, really? How unspontaneous do our lives become when we get married? Obviously, I didn’t know how hectic life would get; between work, family and the boring ol’ day-to-day stuff, squeezing in a sweet date was already challenging.
Now add in a baby and it’s a whole different ball game. If it’s something you don’t already regularly do, I definitely suggest doing it [the date night, that is]. Having children basically means your time no longer belongs to you. In order for me to have a moment to myself, I need to plan at least a week in advance – never mind spending time with hubby.
Let’s be honest, after waking up from a night of interrupted sleep, being spat up on, poop explosions, puréeing foods, tidying up the nursery for the umpteenth time and getting supper ready, by the time you’ve finally put the little one down all you want to do is sleep. But you still have to sterilise the bottles for the midnight feeds, prep baby’s clothes for the morning, do a load of laundry … and … and … and. Looking cute for hubby is pretty far down the list of things to do. Plus, during the few minutes we get to chat maybe over dinner, we’re talking family budget, what baby got up to today, groceries *yawn*.
I get it. It’s the story of my life. And that’s why we’ve made it a priority to put aside dedicated time to spend with each other. We adore our son, but we still adore each other too. We know if we don’t, it’ll go from being a month to a year to three years since we’ve had proper grown up time.
I recently told my friend who’s going through this that yes, you’re a mom but you’re also his wife and best friend. And, putting aside your hubby’s needs for a moment, you need that timeout too.
Here are my tips on how to get much needed grown up time:
Trust family or friends
My family doesn’t live here, so I’m really grateful that my husband’s side of the family do. Kai’s grandparents are more than willing and very excited to take care of him on a weekend, every month. Especially because it means they have dedicated time with him, which they love. They fetch him on Friday afternoon and we get him back on Sunday afternoon. It’s win-win for everyone: Kai gets to have proper time with his grandparents, they bond with him and we get some time to ourselves to do whatever we want to do; have dinner, watch a show, or just cuddle at home.
I know this may be difficult for some so if you don’t have family nearby, consider doing what my colleague does. She takes turns with her friend to take care of each other’s kids. One weekend all the kids are at her house; the next month, they’re with her friend. This gives them time to do their own thing without having to worry about their kids. Another option is to ask your nanny (if you have one) or a trusted neighbour to help on the day. The overtime you pay your caretaker will be worth it.
Yes, it’s unsexy and unspontaneous but how else will you have dedicated time to do it? We diarise every single thing we do these days, but not always the important things. The way I see it, doing so is better than not doing it at all. Pick a day and stick to it. I’ve put our dedicated weekend in my phone calendar and blocked off that weekend every month. If other plans come up I say, ‘sorry I’m busy, let’s do it some other time’. People may not understand and try to pressure you out of spending time with your man. “But you see him all the time, you live with him!” You don’t have to tell people what you’re up to, just say you’re unavailable and schedule their plans for another time.
Take baby (haha) steps
Leaving your baby – whether it’s with family or a babysitter – isn’t easy. Ease yourself and your baby into it. Do a date day a couple of times until you’re comfortable then try doing it overnight, if you can. The most days I’ve been away from Kai is four nights when I travelled for my friend’s wedding late last year and that was absolute torture!
I’ve reduced my maximum to two nights and that’s a comfortable amount of time to spend quality time with my husband. Do whatever makes sense for you. Try a whole day, one night or a whole weekend. Plan around it and get excited about it. My husband and I always look forward to our alone time – like we’re in high school. We make a point to plan something to do as if we’re still “dating” each other.
Try not to feel too guilty
It’s easy for us to feel guilty about taking time out because the media and society tell us that once we become mothers, it’s the be all or end all. Keep in mind that you’re still a person, a woman. You still need comfort, attention and affection. You’re always taking care of the house and the people in it; let this be a time for you to be taken care of.
Let him look after you. At the end of the day, you were a couple before you had your new addition. You’d laugh together, discuss current affairs, tease each other and, most importantly, you’d connect.
You were friends before the baby came and you need to now make more of an effort to continue being so. It’s also important for your child to see that mommy and daddy really love each other, that they’re best friends. It’ll help them to form a healthy view on marriage and relationships. If you have a boy, he’ll take cues on how to treat his future wife and your little girl will learn how to be treated by her future partner. Everyone stands to benefit.
Those are my tips on how to make some time for your man, without feeling as guilty as I could have, or in some people’s opinions … as I should have. Ha!
Aisha O’Reilly is a young African woman who loves natural hair, beauty and being a new mommy, among other things. Her aim is to inspire and encourage fellow women by giving them a peek into her life, with all of its ups, downs, questions and adventures in her blog, Aisha and Life.