It’s been a few years since my oldest daughter’s 4 month sleep regression inspired me to become a sleep consultant (it was a doozy!). My girls are now 2 and 4 ½ years old.
And it’s true… it’s easy to forget what things were like (can I blame it on mom brain?!). So, I asked my husband today if he thought our marriage was negatively affected by our oldest daughter’s lack of sleep. I thought he might say something like, “Hmm, I guess it was a little.” I was surprised when he exclaimed, “OH YEAH! Definitely! I mean, we were in complete survival mode. We weren’t even able to take care of ourselves, nonetheless do something sweet for each other! Remember the fights we had? I slept on the couch for the first year of her life so we could tag team sleep deprivation!”
Well… there you have it friends!
Becoming a parent for the first time, or for the sixth time, changes a marriage. It’s inevitable. Though with the right tools, it doesn’t have to change it for the worst. It takes work for me to really see my spouse (and him to see me) amongst the dirty diapers, snotty noses, cooking meals, exhaustion, etc. But I truly believe in the idea that the best thing I can do for my girls is to love their father (and vice versa). I don’t do it perfectly, that’s for sure. But thank goodness, love doesn’t require perfection. Here is a list of ideas to keep the spark alive and to get your sexy back (just in case you’re anything like me):
- Self-Care- This is huge for me. If I’m not filling up my own well, it’s literally impossible for me to fill up others. Being a busy mama, I need to keep things simple. My checklist: Am I drinking enough water? I try to start every morning with 10 ounces of water; before coffee. How am I eating? Am I remembering to also pack healthy snacks for myself when we go out, not just for my girls? Did I shower today? Ha! Sometimes I get so busy, that I make sure that the girls look great, but I leave only a few minutes to take care of myself. I feel like a million bucks when I make myself a priority. How can I get more sleep? And, what days am I going to exercise? If I don’t carve out the time, it tends to get put aside. These basics all help me to feel like the best version of myself, which in turn makes me feel like a sexy mama.
- Buy New Clothes- And throw the pregnancy panties away! Ha! After I had my daughters, I camped out in those things. But after a while, it no longer felt good to wear them, and I definitely didn’t feel sexy in them. And honestly, I’m still holding on to 15 extra pounds from pregnancy. Even months after delivery, I had nothing to wear. Squeezing into clothes that were too small definitely didn’t make me feel like a beautiful woman. As I learned to love my body, regardless of a few extra pounds, I realized that I deserve to have clothes that fit.
- Use Your Resources- Whatever that means for you! We are members at our local YMCA and they offer free babysitting. We take our girls there for an hour on the weekend and we work out together. Doing something good for our bodies and doing it together feels really awesome. We also use the babysitting at our church so we can hold hands and enjoy a sermon together, without our little ankle biters. Also, have you looked around to see if your area offers Parents Night Out (PNO)? Many YMCAs, local churches, or daycares have a night designated for parents to drop off their kids for a few hours, so they can go do whatever! It’s usually only for a small fee, which is even better.
- Sitter Swap- I sitter swap with some of my mama friends, as well as with my sister. For Valentine’s Day this year, I’m watching my sister’s kids in the morning for three hours while she and her husband go on a date. We’ll all break for naptime, and then she’s watching my kids for 3 hours, so I can go out with my hubby. We ALL win! Our company’s founder, Nicole, had a great experience with a sitter swap with her neighbor, where they each had a date out a month. You can read more about her experience here.
- Watch a Favorite Show Together- Sometimes, all my husband and I have the energy to do after a long day is to watch a show together. We try to cuddle, to at least connect that way. I don’t think connecting really needs to be complicated. Small steps can make a difference. And don’t tell him I told you, but our favorite show is The Bachelor! Ha! It’s our guilty pleasure.
- Date Night with Cards or Board Games- Honestly, this takes effort on our part, because our default is to watch a show when our girls go to bed to unwind. Playing games takes thought! However, when we make the extra effort to start a game of cards, things get fun. We get competitive and it really starts the ball rolling for conversation. Brings us back to our honeymoon when we stayed in the mountains and played games (there was no t.v.) and then other, more fun things can happen from there…. 😉
- Let It Begin With Me- When I’m tired, I tend to see the worst; in myself, my situation and in others. However, small shifts can change my thinking. When I make an effort to notice the small things my spouse is doing right or the things I love about him, those things tend to grow and it actually makes him want to do more! It can snowball with him finding the things I do “right,” as well. So, I try to remember to keep my eyes peeled for his awesomeness, as opposed to what I think he needs to change.
- Find Out What Makes Your Partner Happy, and Do More Of It!- For example, my husband really feels love when I do nice things for him. It would mean a lot more to him if I made him his favorite dinner, than if I tell him 100 times that I love him. It’s the acts of service (learn more about Love Languages here) that makes a difference for him. Me, on the other hand, feel most loved spending quality time with someone. You might find this video funny (and relatable!!!): How to Make A Move: The Holderness Family
- Go Out With Friends- Either with kids or without. Spending time with other women helps me remember who I am, beyond wiping hineys and baking chicken nuggets. When I make the time to connect with my girlfriends, I remember that I am so many things, not just a mama. I oftentimes come back feeling more whole (and I usually can’t wait to get my hands on my girls, and my hubby!).
- Get the Kids Sleeping Well- Honestly, when we were in the thick of chronic exhaustion, we could barely keep our jobs, let alone enjoy special time together. If sleep deprivation is rocking your marriage (and not in a positive way), make a plan with your partner to make some positive changes in your situation. Even making a plan can feel empowering and instill hope. And if you need help, let us help you! That’s what we’re here for. We’ve been there!
So, those are just a few things that I do to help me “get my sexy back” and reconnect with myself and with my hubby. Everyone needs to find what works for them and their relationship. There’s no one size fits all. However, the important thing is figuring out what you and your partner need to keep the spark alive. And know that parenting ain’t for the weak of heart. It’s hard stuff! But your relationship can flourish even amongst the toughest challenges.