Marriage is hard, especially when your kids are little. You're running low on sleep, you've got several people pulling you in all different directions all at once, and you'd really rather just go take a nap than work on your marriage. Yet, a strong marriage sets the foundation for a strong family, and building yours the right way is so, so important.
Thankfully, just because you have kids doesn't mean that your marriage has to take a back seat. It is possible to make your spouse a priority, even when you're a very busy mom of littles.
Need some suggestions? Here are 10 of them!
1. Redefine Your Definition of Romance
Romance doesn't have to mean a dozen roses, staying up til sunrise talking or spontaneous weekends away. Romance is anything that makes you and your husband feel loved, valued and appreciated and that brings you closer together. Doing the dishes is romantic. Vacuuming out the car is romantic. Letting the other person sleep in is VERY romantic. Figure out what says romance to you at this stage of life - whether that's dishes or diapers - and let your husband know!
2. Wake Up Early or Stay Up Late
Now, while I certainly wouldn't suggest staying up until all hours of the night (especially if your little ones don't sleep through the night yet), waking up a half an hour early or intentionally setting aside the hour after the kids go to bed to spend time as a couple is a great way to sneak in a little extra time together. Enjoy breakfast together, watch the news, stay in bed and snuggle - it's up to you!
3. Use Nap Time to Your Advantage
Do your little ones still nap? Perfect! Use this hour or two to reconnect with your spouse without your little ones underfoot. Let the cleaning wait - you've got more important things to do! Curl up and watch a movie, work on a shared hobby together - whatever makes you feel close.
4. Let Go of Extras
Taking care of little ones is hard work! Now is not the time to be superwoman (there is plenty of time for that later - don't worry!).
What extras can you let go of to make more room in your schedule? Do you really need to be class mom this year? Can you let someone else run the bake sale? Do you need to stop participating in every church activity? (Not saying that you shouldn't go - you should!-just that now may not be the season of life to be there every time the doors are open.)
5. Be Intentional
How many times do you put the kids to bed only to plop on the couch and turn on your TV, computer or smartphone? Honestly, I bet you have more time for your husband than you realize; you're just wasting it by plopping instead of being intentional. So start being intentional. Make spending time with your husband a priority and you'll be surprised how many creative ways you can find to do it.
6. Set Healthy Boundaries
We bed-shared when my boys were babies. I breastfed longer than "normal." I baby-wore. I was a stay-at-home mom. And yet, there comes a point when all moms have to realize our lives do not and should not revolve around our kids. Yes, of course we want to be there for them and give them the best of everything, but part of that means setting healthy boundaries and making our spouses a priority. Maybe this means your kids need to knock before they come in your room or maybe it means that it's time for them to move into their own rooms. Your marriage isn't going to grow strong on its own. You have to protect it.
7. Shower Together
You have to get clean right? Why not invite your spouse in to "save water?" Put the baby in the car seat on the bathroom floor. He'll be fine for 10 minutes.
8. Turn On the Cartoons - Loud
If your kids already have a tendency to zone out in front of the TV, use this time to your advantage! Obviously I'm not saying to just stick them in front of the TV all day long unsupervised. But if you know your kid is going to be oblivious to the world and need nothing for the next twenty minutes while his favorite cartoon is on - then plop him down and tip toe off for 20 minutes of uninterrupted snuggle time!
9. Commit to a Regular Date Night
Getting away is hard, but worth it. So no more excuses. Don't have the time? Let something else go. Your marriage is more important. Don't have anyone to watch your children? Have an at-home date night at the very least. You could rent a movie, order a pizza, have a snowball fight, read a book together - something. Get creative and make your husband a priority!
10. Plan an Occasional Night Away - if You Can
Ready for the big leagues? If you're really serious about cultivating romance in your marriage, plan an occasional night away. Your children will not shrivel up and die if someone else watches them for the night. (Really. I promise.) Instead, they will have a fantastic time with grandma and grandpa or aunt and uncle or whoever, and you will have a relaxing, rejuvenating and fun night away. Not only will this help strengthen your marriage, but it will help you be a better mother too! (Really!)
Editor's note: This article was originally published on Equipping Godly Women. It has been republished here with permission.