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One of the questions that I am asked most often (after, “Don’t you have a TV?” because why else would you have three kids), is
“How long did you wait before leaving your baby and going out alone with your husband?”
And when you think about it, it’s a legit question. Maybe you haven’t thought about it yet because you’re still walking around half dazed/half shocked, smelling like vrot milk and looking like something that washed up on the set of The Walking Dead. But eventually you’re going to start asking yourself where your marriage fits into this whole baby thing.
It may take a month, or two or even 6 or 12. But eventually I suspect, that like us, you’re going to look at your partner and wonder who they are.
Somehow, even though you’re living in the same house and sleeping in the same bed – you’ve lost each other. Yes, you chat about all the poo nappies you’ve changed today or how badly you’ve slept. Maybe you throw in something personal like the fact that your sweet little cherub spewed her guts right into your face this morning. And then, to really connect, you follow up with the fact that the warm, funky smelling gunk then travelled down and settled nicely between your massive, engorged and painful boobs. Just me?
Anyway, you might get to chat but it’s usually about your kids. It might even progress to a “How was work?” and after a one or two word answer, the baby freaks out and that’s it again until the kid passes out. But the chances are, you’ve passed out with them. So tomorrow it is. Except that every day is a varied repeat of the other, resulting in fleeting glances and short conversations.
Possibly a touch of resentment and a jiggle of indifference.
If you had to tell me that this is how I would feel in those first months (maybe even that whole first year), I would have laughed right in your good-natured face. Oh no! That won’t happen to us. Our relationship is rock solid. We got this.
But a lot of the time we didn’t.
Because marriage actually takes a whole lot more work than we thought. Go figure.
At the end of the day, you’ve made a commitment in your marriage to be together forever. It probably didn’t seem like it when you were young and rosy cheeked, but that’s a really long time. A really flipping long time. You’re going to spend more of that time together without your kids than together with them to distract you.
So what then? How do you make sure that you don’t slip into this place that’s really hard to get out of?
You make your marriage a priority.
As important as it is to make sure that you kid gets a clean nappy every time it poops or gets fed 500 times a day, it’s just as important to make sure that your partner feels loved and connected with.
How you do this is obviously different for everyone – but here’s how we did it (back when we first popped out a little spawn).
- You obviously don’t start out with a whole night away from your 4 week old. That’s a bit ridiculous. Start small. Get the baby into bed and make a real effort not to pass out with them. Order a pizza/pop a bottle of something/make special coffee/buy snacks that you both love. Any or all of those will do. Put your phones in another room, sit around the table or on the floor or on the couch. The only technology working is the music making device of your choice. Talk about ALL of your day. That irritating conversation. The funny thing your boss said. The flipping awful traffic. All the things. Share them. Listen. Be involved.
- Time to take it up a notch. Get someone you trust, ask them to “baby sit” and go and sit outside for 30 minutes. Take a cup of tea to sip on while you catch up.
- Let’s get real. An hour at a restaurant close to a trusted babysitter. When you feel ready to leave them for that long and actually leave the house at the same time.
- After you nail that a couple of times and feel comfortable leaving them, go for a couple of hours. Still close enough so you can rush home if you need to but far enough away to feel like you’re living. A lovely lunch. Or go home, practise how to make another baby (bow-chicka-wow-wow) and then nap. Just saying.
- Then for a special occasion (when you know you can guilt your babysitter into it because it’s special), get the kid to sleep and go out for dinner AND a movie. Like a 5 hour stretch. Granted, if you’ve put the baby to sleep first then you’ll be lekker tired the next morning, but it will be worth it. Unless you watch like, High School Musical or something.
- All of those things should be enough in and of themselves if you can do it regularly enough. But if you have people in your life that you trust almost more than yourself, you can step it up to a night away. I highly recommend this. It’s an exhilarating feeling.
We’ve been adamant about date night ever since. We try for once a week, but I’ll literally take anything I can get.
So how old was Kyla when we left her for the first time?
I can’t actually remember. But it was around the 4 month mark or so – I had to go back to work. Had to get used to it eventually. But there’s one time that sticks out in my mind so very clearly.
We’d been ambitious because she’d been with my Mom in law every day and it was going great, so we thought we could go to an evening movie. The idea is that Ga (my MIL) would get her to sleep at her house and then we’d fetch her and take her home when the movie was done. We watched that movie with the blue people, the first 3D one. I can’t remember the name now. Anyway. It was LONG. When we got home at like 10.30. There was Kyla, wide awake (at 9 months) and watching TV with her grandparents. She’d gone to sleep for 30 minutes but that was that. She was done.
We were furious. How could she possibly go to sleep watching TV?! But honestly – we were just first baby ignorant. In hindsight I’m more thankful that we got out and had that experience than getting her to bed on time. Some rules are made to be broken for a good cause.
How old was your little the first time you ventured out together without them and what did you do?