How to Make Couple Time When You Have 2 Kids, From Someone Who Knows
Let's face it, parenting is hard. And while we love seeing Instagram-worthy snaps of clean, smiling kids wearing on-trend clothes, what we truly crave is real-talk from working parents who aren't afraid to share the full spectrum of ebbs and flows that come with being a parent. So, we couldn't think of anyone better to ask than publisher and managing editor of the Australian editions of Kotaku, Gizmodo and Lifehacker, Mark Serrels. Brace yourself—Serrels' candid insight is realer than real. Also? It'll have you in stitches. Keep reading for the lessons on making couple time that this father has learned so far.
Here I am, a father of two children, sitting at my desk responding to a question put to me by MyDomaine Australia’s heavily pregnant senior lifestyle editor. She wants to know how to make “couple time” work when you have (as I do) two very young children under the age of five. How do I manage to find time with my partner between the vomit, poop, and rogue baked beans scattered in the carpet post-dinner?
Great question. Being perfectly, brutally honest, I’m hitting a brick wall here. I’ve got nothing.
So, I’ll tell you what. I want to redefine things a bit here. I want to write a slightly different article, one I feel more equipped to write. Let’s redraw the battle lines. Let’s start from ground zero.
This is how to make sure your relationship survives children.
Lesson #1: Understand You Are Both Going to Have to Do More
This mostly applies to the potential fathers among us.
Outdated, garbage gender roles aside, fathers are about to find themselves doing way more around the house. More dishes, more cleaning, a metric buttload more laundry. And because you’re a man, you may feel tempted to scamper up to your partner like an over eager puppy begging for compliments and a little treat.
“LOOK AT ALL THE THINGS I, A MAN, DID TO HELP YOU!”
Please don’t do that.
Whatever amount of additional work you think you’re doing, whatever stress you’re under, know and understand that your partner is doing more. She might be breastfeeding. She will most likely be exhausted physically and mentally. She squeezed a baby out through her vagina for you. You can handle a few extra dishes without demanding praise.
A general rule of thumb: Whatever you think is acceptable, take that benchmark and do more.
And don’t complain!
Lesson #2: Be Kind to One Another
This is going to be a tremendous adjustment for both of you. Your nerves will be shredded. You will be overcome with fear and doubt. You’ll never quite be sure if you’re doing this right. You may find yourselves in a depression or, at best, a mild funk.
So be gentle with one another.
Be understanding if someone snaps. Give each other personal space when required. Don’t go straight to “well things are hard for me too” when someone needs a break or asks for help.
Praise one another when you can. Come bearing gifts if possible. Men, surprise your partner with a day away from children, and don’t expect anything in return. Do it because it’s deserved and the happiness of your SO brings you joy.
Important: Somehow try and ensure that both of you are getting enough rest. I cannot stress this enough—lack of sleep can make the most benign situation feel desperate.
Lesson #3: Take Advantage of Relatives
Personally, I’m in a pretty brutal situation. My entire family lives overseas, and most of my wife’s family lives interstate. Grim.
But you might be lucky. You might have a host of relatives within driving distance. Take advantage of them if possible. Get yourself to a cinema or a restaurant. Book a hotel and do an overnighter if you’re feeling frisky. These moments are like gold dust and you must grab them with both hands.
Your parents are almost certainly desperate for time with their grandchildren. They’ll most likely be happy to help. They’re probably hanging by the phone like a spotty teenager waiting desperately for this call. Indulge them, and most importantly indulge yourself.
Lesson #4: Don't Be Too Hard on Yourselves
This is also important. Movies are bullsh*t. Mainstream expectations are also bullsh*t. If you want to spend those precious “kids are asleep” moments vegged out on the couch watching Netflix, that’s absolutely your prerogative.
Also, don’t worry if you’re not having sex all the time. Straight up.
Lesson #5: Live In the Moment
It’s a cliché, but with kids the days are long but the years are short. Try and enjoy each stage for what it is. You might think babies suck. You could be desperate for the toddler years to end. Either way, every stage has its ups and downs. Help each other through the bad times and share in the beautiful moments that parenthood brings.