How To Still Prioritize Your Relationship After You Have Kids

Becoming a parent shifts just about everything in life. From sleep and work to finances and romance, priorities have changed. It's natural (and important) that most of your energy and focus is on the new life you've brought into the world in those early years. Children add a lot of beauty to the home and to a relationship — as well as a fair amount of chaos.


Most parents would likely agree that the intimacy and close connection they once shared with their partner takes on a whole new shape once a baby comes into the picture. This can be a bit of a shock to the system, but don't panic. It's key to understand that, as they say, it flies by quickly. "Remember that every stage in parenthood is transient," reproductive and perinatal psychiatrist Dr. Carly Snyder told Verywell Family. "The newborn phase is not forever, the toddler phase is not forever—[it's about] being comfortable with the fact that things are going to change."

And while the days feel long even though the years are short, know that the distance you feel from your partner isn't permanent. If you can be patient, your marriage will reap the benefits — as will the whole household, for it's the marriage that sets the tone (via The Everymom). In the meantime, here is what you can do to maintain a healthy relationship once kids are in the picture. 


Set aside time for a daily check-in

It's easier said than done to create a quiet, distraction-free environment to connect with your partner when there's a little one who needs something from you 24/7. But, it is possible. Maybe you and your loved one decide to make a connection ritual out of your morning coffee, even if it's short and sweet. If you can set up the kids to entertain themselves for fifteen minutes while you two connect and share how you're feeling, how you slept, what your plans for the day are, something you appreciate about one another, and anything else that might arise, you'll quickly notice a shift in the emotional intimacy of your relationship. If you can, avoid talking about the kids during this time — again, easier said than done (via Parents). Make an effort to show physical affection here with a hand on the shoulder or a kiss to the forehead. You could also do the morning crossword puzzle together while you chat, if you find the two of you connect well through intellectual stimulation.


If mornings are too much of a zoo in your house to check in with one another, opt for a post-bedtime connection instead. Sticking to a consistent, early bedtime for the kids will help make this a reality, as will limiting distractions when you do sit down together (via The Everymom). Try leaving your phones in the other room and taking the time to talk, touch, and listen.

Get creative with date night

If date night is feeling like more of a chore than a treat, it may be time to switch things up. Many parents will contend that finding and preparing for a sitter can be stressful in and of itself, not to mention spendy. Planning a 'home date' after the kids are in bed can actually be a lot of fun. Ordering takeout and getting that Netflix movie you've both been wanting to see ready in the queue is sometimes just the relaxing evening you need. Think outside of the box and try to devote one night a week to your new home date tradition. Cooking a nice meal together, doing a puzzle, having a DIY spa night, starting your own book club — there are a lot of options out there once you start brainstorming (via Country Living).


While this new version of date night might take some time to adjust to, you may come to know your partner in a new way you hadn't previously had a chance to experience. It's important to accept the shifting tides of parenthood — date night included. "Surrender to the chaos and wonder of parenthood, and embrace it wholeheartedly," Cathy O'Neill, an Austin, Texas mother of three and a co-author of "Babyproofing Your Marriage: How to Laugh More and Argue Less As Your Family Grows," told Parents.

Express your love through small gestures

If the little things were important in pre-parenthood, they're even higher up on the scale now. Love notes, words of affirmation, gratitude, offering solo time to your partner, praising them in private and in public — all these efforts are the threads that weave together your relationship. And through sleep deprivation and chaos, you and your partner need them more than ever (via The Everymom). Try not to play 'tit for tat' and keep score of who took a long shower yesterday or got to enjoy a solo grocery store run.


Trading off self-care time slots could also be a saving grace in your relationship post-kids. Take turns going to the gym two evenings a week or trade back-to-back movie theater outings on the weekend to make sure each of you has a chance to return home refreshed and restored. If you don't allow yourself or your partner this time away, resentment is likely to start building and that's a slippery slope for any union (via Parents).

Schedule time to be intimate

Childbirth and breastfeeding are enormous transformations for a woman and her body. She has brought new life into the world and is no longer the person she once was. It's natural for mothers to require more time before engaging in physical intimacy after childbirth. Taking her cue is key. "There are so many reasons that it needs to go slow and be fully directed by the woman," reproductive and perinatal psychiatrist Dr. Carly Snyder told Verywell Family.


Many parents share that one of the top reasons physical intimacy is rarer than before is being interrupted by the kids — which can understandably be a pretty instant mood kill. A steady, early bedtime for the little ones and, as unromantic as it may sound, scheduling time for intimacy might be your best bet for now. Make the commitment and you might be surprised by what transpires. "Sex begets more sex. Kind of like when you go to the gym," Karen Jeffries, author of "Hilariously Infertile," told The New York Times. "It takes you a while to build that habit. You'll notice little by little that it becomes more and more as opposed to less and less."

Create new traditions as a family

Saturday hikes on your favorite trail or cooking a meal together from a cherished family recipe once a week — there are a lot of ways to infuse tradition into life with kids and it may bring a surprising bond to your relationship (via The Everymom). Creating a family together is a special tie. You've done something beautiful and challenging with one another and you deserve to feel some pride.


The routine will also add a sense of stability if the stage of parenting you're in feels rocky. "Just as many children find safety and belonging within the structure and routine of a classroom, family traditions provide this same sense of familiarity and structure," Laura Linn Knight, author of "Break Free from Reactive Parenting" told Today. Make sure the traditions you choose represent the values you'd like to pass on to your kids. And don't let the pressure to do it perfectly negate the purpose: to connect and enjoy one another.