Those first weeks at home with a newborn are exhilarating, terrifying and wonderful. You did it! You’re parents! But life with a new baby also turns time into a three-hour loop: Feed, sleep, change, repeat. And in the monotony of it all, something other than sleep takes a back seat—spontaneity.
But there’s hope! Even with a rigid newborn schedule, new parents can still have some fun. In fact, keeping the spark alive is never more important than now. Data from Lasting, a marriage health and counseling app based on extensive research, shows the connection between parents is a key factor in kids’ cognitive, emotional and social development. So even when you’re rocking a spit up-stained shirt and four-day-old hair, you and your partner can (and should!) keep spontaneity alive. How? Here are five things to try:
1. Get Creative
Is there something you both love to do? Or something new you’ve been wanting to try? Attempt a new cookie recipe or a delicious gourmet dinner. Break out the good china and those expensive knives you never use. Set a fancy table, light some candles and enjoy.
If cooking isn’t your thing, try your hand at sketching, painting or puzzles. A national study on family therapy found that creative activities lead to enhanced problem-solving and imagination in relationships, so really, you can’t go wrong! Whatever you try, getting those creative juices flowing will remind you that even though your little human owns most of your time, you’re more than just a diaper-changer.
2. Get Out of the House
Disrupt your routine by switching up your environment. If the weather permits, wrap up your little one and take a walk through your neighborhood or nearby park. See if your city has local farmers markets or art fairs on the weekends. Plan a picnic with all your favorite foods. Or if packing up the stroller overwhelms you, find your favorite drive-thru and treat yourself. Parenting is hard work, and you deserve to be pampered. Pick a good playlist and enjoy the ride.
Where you end up heading is less important than simply getting out of the house. One thing you’ll want to leave behind, though, is your phone. According to Lasting, 80 percent of couples with kids feel their mobile devices distract them from connecting with each other. So wherever you go, set aside those phones and make a point to spend quality time with your spouse in a different setting.
3. Hang Out with Friends
A great way to build spontaneity into your marriage is to spend time with other couples who a) you really like and b) are really accommodating. Especially during the newborn stage, find friends who are comfortable coming over to your house or willing to hang out on your tight schedule. If your friends also have little ones, they’ll understand the unique challenges of new parenthood and will be flexible. Whether it’s a casual meal or a fun game night, time with friends will add variety to your long days and will help you each remember the people you were and the people you want to be.
4. Give a Surprise Gift
Parenthood is pretty much all give and no take. You’re responsible for your infant’s every need, and that means you rarely address your own. But in the spirit of spontaneity, take the initiative to surprise your spouse with something just for them.
Don’t get hung up on finding the perfect present—gifts don’t always have to blow the budget. It doesn’t even have to be an object, but rather a thoughtful act or show of kindness. Have your partner’s favorite treat (flowers, cookies, lunch) sent to the house or office. Leave a quick love note somewhere they’ll find it. Offer to take on one of their daily chores while they kick up their feet and relax. Take your pick. Small, intentional giving will go a long way in maintaining that spontaneous edge, and you’ll have fun in the process too.
5. Keep Talking
At a time when you and your partner are probably talking more about milk supply than marital improvement, it’s important to keep lines of communication open between just the two of you. A staggering 79 percent of couples with kids are unsatisfied with their communication, according to Lasting. Don’t be one of them!
Make time and space to communicate, and remember, it doesn’t all have to be serious. Google questions to ask each other or fun ways to find out more about your spouse. Lasting even offers daily coaching sessions that include prompts for communication. So put your little one to bed and get talking (and laughing!). Try the questions while playing a board or card game. Be inventive and honest. Make open communication a priority, and you just might learn something new.
According to marriage experts, 67 percent of new parents experience a drop in couple satisfaction within the first three years of parenthood—but that doesn’t have to be you. As a newly minted mom or dad, investing in your partnership has never mattered more. It may take some work, but keeping spontaneity alive will always mean big returns for you and your growing family.
Published January 2019
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