Let’s be honest. The relationship we have with our spouse is different than before we had children. Our time and energy is split, we have more responsibilities, and being intimate can sometimes feel like just another chore on the “To do list”.
Although it is true that our relationship is different, this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive to make it better; to work on our intimacy and make time to enjoy each other’s company, like we used to… without the kids.
The relationship between parents is the number one relationship that determines how children will experience their own relationships in the future, with co-workers, friends and spouses. Children look to their parents to see how people communicate with each other, how they show and accept love and how they resolve problems. For this reason, marriage must be made a priority. We must nurture it and learn ways to improve it.
How do we do this?
There are a few areas to look at:
How do you feel about yourself? Do you feel like you are healthy and in relatively good shape? Do you dress as you used to or are you feeling a bit frumpy lately?
Taking care of ourselves is often the most effective way to give us energy, make us feel sexy again and feel like we want to work on our marriage.
Do you schedule in regular date nights with your spouse, either inside or outside the home? Enjoying each other’s company is so important. Remember what you loved doing together and schedule it! Book the restaurant, find the hiking trail, play scrabble, cook a meal together, go for coffee and a dessert or just go for a walk and talk. Whatever it is be sure to schedule at least one date night per month.
Communication. Nothing breeds anger and resentment more than silence. It’s very important to constantly talk; talk about parenting issues, household issues, feelings, etc. An extremely useful resource is the book called, “The Five Love Languages” This is the best book my husband and I have found to help us figure out how each of us likes to be loved. It is, in my opinion, a must read for all couples.
Although life is busier with children, we must always remember that parents are the core of a family. Nurture your relationship well and give it the attention and focus it deserves. You and your children will be happier if you do.
The one thing working moms have in common is that they’re busy ladies with a lot on their plate. The second thing they have in common is that they feel guilty a lot of the time. One of the main sources of that guilt comes from the feeling that they don’t have time to spend quality moments with their children; “life is just a race” moms tell me.
A very important thing for working mothers to understand is that it doesn’t take much to satisfy their child’s need for attention, and if just a few things are put into place, they can be guaranteed that they are giving their child all they need to.
What are those things?
Well, we all know that children need focused attention in order to feel loved. And, if they feel this focused attention on a regular basis, they are better behaved and happier kids to be around. The point then is to create moments of focused attention.
Here are seven ways working moms can give their child focused attention when they have little time to give:
1) Create a ritual. The definition of a ritual is: a series of actions regularly and invariably followed by someone. With this in mind try to think of what small ritual you can create with your children that can happen everyday, without fail. Perhaps each morning you and your children light a candle (or turn on battery operated ones) at the breakfast table and you share your intention for the day. Perhaps you do and say certain things each night at bedtime. Whatever it is, keep it simple; the more simple, the more impact it has.
2) Schedule one-on-one time. Working moms need to be organized. Carry this organization through to spending one-on-one time with each of your children once a month. Brainstorm activities you and your child would like to do together then once a month pull one of those ideas and schedule it on your calendar. It doesn’t have to be long; 30-60 minutes is all it will take. (Children who I surveyed told me this!)
3) Plan a theme night. This is one of my favourite things to do. Choose a country and plan a family evening around the theme of this country. For example, if you choose Japan, your family can brainstorm costumes, music, dishes to cook, movies to watch, etc. Plan these theme nights every 4-6 months and just watch the bonding that occurs!
4) Make reading together YOUR thing. What could you do to make reading a special event between you and your children? Could you read a chapter book out loud each night for 15-20 mins after dinner? Could you cuddle in bed each night and read them a story? Could you make up a story each night or save this for Sunday night?
5) Bake on the weekend. Get a great cookbook (choose it together) and bake one thing each weekend from the book. Think, “Julie and Julia”, the movie with Meryl Streep. How exciting would it be to bake through a cookbook (baking book) and experiment together?
6) Make grocery shopping YOUR thing. Create a tradition that after the weekly grocery shop you all go for a hot chocolate or special drink.
7) Go to the Library. Create a special tradition around the Library. How about Friday after the school pick being your time to go hang out at the library and collect books? Or, does your library have weekend reading, rhyme or story times? Be sure that your kids choose their books first so that they have something to look at as they respectfully give you time to browse.
As you can see, all of my ideas are based around keeping things slow, simple and meaningful. You don’t have to have all the time in the world to spend with your kids, it’s just about making the time you DO have, count.
Spring reminds us of renewal and new life; perhaps even a fresh start. People find that this time of year brings them more energy, enthusiasm and motivation to throw away the old, unused, or meaningless and bring in the new and beneficial. When we look at families, the same thought process can apply. The following quotes are from parents who realized they had formed unhelpful habits and needed to start fresh again.
1. “Forgetting to schedule regular time for myself everyday – even if it’s just 10 minutes”
2. “Forgetting to begin dinner at 5:00pm so that dinner is ready by 6:00pm. Starting later just isn’t working!”
3. “Forgetting to schedule in a proper date night with my husband. It seems to come last on the priority list, but I miss it.”
4. “Forgetting to be consistent with the 4 Tricks. I’ve been mixing mine and yours again. Oops!”
5. “Forgetting to shave my legs regularly. I promised myself I would keep up with this and haven’t. I feel better about myself when I do, so I must start again.”
6. “I have forgotten to state the first Trick you gave me in a matter of fact tone – it’s getting a little wishy-washy again.”
7. “I’ve been allowing my daughter to get away with, “Okay, I won’t do it again” so that I won’t apply the consequence.”
8. “We thought we had a flow going with our family activities, but have noticed that we don’t have as much fun time lately. We are going to start using the strategy you taught us again. Thanks!”
9. “I’ve seen my girlfriends a lot but it’s always with the children, so I must focus on planning children-free time with them.”
10. “Forgetting to stick to the homework routine. After relaxing on it a bit I realized that my son began making excuses again, so back to the routine we must go! Should never have relaxed – you told me this would happen, but some of us are slow learners!”
The best part about reading these messages is realizing that they DO have the skills and knowledge to get back on track. How empowering! How easy to make the quick change! How wonderful to feel refreshed again. What habits have YOU formed that need a little renewal?
Valentine’s Day. The red hearts make us feel like love and happiness is all around. We see images of couples hugging and gazing into each other’s eyes and we want that. We go shopping at beautifully decorated stores and envision making our loved one feel special and cherished. And, secretly, we hope our partners are thinking and doing the same for us. The spirit behind Valentine’s Day is beautiful. Don’t we all want more of it though?
Wouldn’t it be great if we could make our loved ones feel special most days of the year? Wouldn’t it be fantastic if WE felt that our loved ones cherished and truly appreciated US most days of the year?
How, in this busy world of ours, can we keep the lovely spirit of Valentine’s Day alive? Author CJ Mahaney offers some advice on this to men, but it relates to women as well. He says, “To learn how to touch your wife’s heart and mind, you must study her.” He then goes on to ask a poignant question: “Do you know how to surprise and delight your wife in the following areas?
- clothing styles and stores
- books and magazines
- the art
- food and drink
- places to visit
- intellectual interests
It’s usually the small things that make the biggest difference to us. If someone takes the time to really know you and show you they know and appreciate who you are, then happiness and the feeling that we wish for each and every Valentine’s Day can be felt more often than just February 14th.
Can this philosophy be directed toward our children too? Absolutely! Who doesn’t like to be loved this way? Does your child mention a song or artist they love? Why not find it on iTunes and secretly download it to their iPod. Does your husband love a certain type of food from his heritage? Why not cook that for him as a surprise? Does your wife love romance? Surprise her with a beautiful romance novel and a rose one day.
It doesn’t take much, but the rewards of doing little things for our loved ones… OFTEN… are immeasurable. Study your wife, husband or child, then use this information to bring happiness into your home on a regular basis, not just on the day when someone tells you to.