Parenting is incredibly exhausting. From the moment you’re pregnant till well after your kids start school, every moment is filled with work. Diapers, feedings, and baby proofing is just the start. Then they get mobile. You’re chauffeuring them from activity to activity. It basically never ends. If you don’t take time for yourself and for your relationship, life gets even harder. You might be so busy you don’t even realize you need to step away, but here are certain moments that will remind you and your partner that you need a break from the kids, if you only know how to look for them.
We often discuss self-care, but for those of us in committed relationships, it’s just as important to nurture and care for one another. When you have kids, it’s incredibly easy to put your partnership on the back burner. At first, you’ll be too tired to really notice that your sex life is zilch and your romantic life DOA. But there will come a point in time where it’ll finally hit you. You’ll suddenly become overwhelmed with the desire to go to a concert that doesn’t involve PBS characters. Or you’ll realize it’s been way too long since you’ve gone to a restaurant and didn’t have to move all the breakable items to one side of the table. Or you’ll finally start to feel a little randy but will quickly get frustrated when you realize that with your toddler sleeping between the two of you, you’re definitely not getting lucky.
What other moments signal the need to break away from your children for some couple-time?
When You Can't Remember The Last Non-Animated Film You've Seen
Over the past year, nearly every time someone asked me what the last movie I saw was, it was always something Pixar, or something starring Thomas the Tank Engine. I knew after a while that this was a clear signal of needing a cinematic date night with my husband. Fortunately, we got away long enough to watch Rogue One, but it won’t be long before our next slew of movies under our belt star dancing jellyfish or singing cars or something.
When You Can't Get “The Wheels On The Bus” Out Of Your Head
One of the joys (hah) of parenting is all the exposure to “new music” you get to have! Oh, wait. Actually, having to listen to the Muffin Man over and over again isn’t great at all if you’re over the age of 4. And when neither of you can remember the last time you both listened to anything that isn’t toddler tunes, you know you both need to jump in the car away from your kid and blast some KRS-One or Bikini Kill.
When You Continue To Refer To Each Other As "Mom" Or "Dad" When Your Kid Isn't Around
Even if you swear you’ll never do it, at some point you’ll both start referring to one another by what your child calls you. It’s just easier and helps your kid learn your “names” better. But if you’re having trouble remembering what you used to call your partner prior to kids? You both need a break.
When You Start To Use Baby Talk On Each Other
While you might try to avoid using baby talk and toddler speak on your kids at first, it will undoubtedly happen because eventually you realize your kids are way more responsive to this. But you know who doesn’t actually need that? Your partner.
When You Resist The Urge To Send Your Partner To “Time Out” For Misbehaving
Even if you don’t use “time out” yourself, you can’t say you don’t sometimes have the urge to discipline your partner after a long day (or week, or month, or year) of parenting. Of course, it’s not your job to discipline a partner (unless, you know, you’re into that). So maybe when these urges hit, gently remind your partner you might be overdue for a date.
When You Accidentally Start Cutting Up Your Partner’s Food
Aside from wanting to discipline a partner, you also might accidentally start infantilizing them. So if you, for example, catch yourself cutting the crusts off your significant other’s sandwiches, you might both need some time away from parenting.
When You Actually Consider Using Spit And A Napkin To Wipe Something Off Your Partner’s Face
In this day and age of moistened baby wipes, we usually don’t need to give in to the spit-and-clean method. But sometimes you might be out and about, away from the wipes. And your partner might have some schmutz on their face. You might start reaching over to clean it for them as though they can’t do it themselves. Stop. Now.
When You Spend Your Date Nights Cleaning And Talking About Your Kid
So you’ve actually made it out of the house and away from your child(ren), but you can’t stop chatting about them. Or maybe you left them at your parent’s place and decided to have a romantic night in, except you end up doing chores instead. Sounds like you need more than one night away.
When You Completely Give Up Ever Closing The Bathroom Door
This is in part a sign that you might be comfortable (or way too comfortable) in your relationship. But for some of us, there’s a limit. And when you don’t even make the attempt to close the door (because you’re sure your kid is coming in, even if they’re not around), it might be time to break away.
When You Begin To Resent Your Partner’s Ability To Close The Bathroom Door For Peace And Quiet
Sometimes it’s your partner who happens to be the one who’s still able to get away with closing the bathroom door on occasion. And honestly if that’s the case, all you should think is more power to them. You’re a partnership after all, and it’s good to be supportive of one another’s achievements, however small. That said, you’ll know you’re momentarily fed up with parenting when you can’t let them have this bit of peace and instead send your kid to interrupt them just because.
When You Nitpick Everything Your Partner Does In Relation To Your Child
Many parents make the mistake of criticizing one another’s parenting styles at some point or other, but most also know not to continue to do this or risk damaging the relationship. But when you’ve both been non-stop parenting, it’s easy to fall into this trap. So before you go and scrunch your nose at what your partner chose to dress your child with, take a step back, and then make plans to get a sitter asap.