So, you finally have everything you’ve ever wanted. You have the career, the spouse, the two kids, and the house. You’re living the American dream, congrats!
But, wait, why is this so hard? How am I supposed to make time for everything? Why am I always so tired? Am I ever going to feel like I have it all under control?
If you are having any of those thoughts, you are not alone. If you followed the “typical” life trajectory, your story might sound something like this: When you were single, you spent a lot of time and energy looking for a mate. For many, this in itself is an exhausting process of trial and error, process of elimination, rejection and heartbreak, etc. Then, finally you found the one. Phew.
Fast forward a bit – now comes the wedding planning. Another whirlwind of to-dos and excitement accompanied by a lot of busyness and stress. After you found and married said mate, you might have enjoyed being married for a while. Then it’s time for the next milestone – kids! You have 1, maybe 2 or 3 kids, all while building your career and supporting your partner in building their career. At some point you buy a house with a white picket fence (or if you live in Los Angeles, you more likely spent a small fortune on a 2 bedroom condo).
Now, finally you have arrived. All of your life goals are met. This is when you’re supposed to feel happy, right? But now that those milestones have been met, you realize no one ever taught you how to juggle it all. You’ve been so busy trying to get to the next stage in life, you forgot what it’s like to just be still, be present, and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Not to worry, I’ve got some great tips that will help you balance your family life with staying happily married and being present to actually enjoy this amazing life you have created.
Recognize That Kids Change Everything
I know you’ve heard this before, and I know that you know it’s true, but sometimes just taking the time to acknowledge that being a parent is like nothing else in the world, is healing. This is probably the hardest job you’ve ever had. I’m willing to bet that sometimes, you don’t have a clue what you’re doing and you are pretty sure you’re giving your child plenty to talk about in therapy in his/her future. It’s really impossible to know what having kids is like until you do it. Otherwise, the population might decline severely 😉 Taking care of a child takes about 35 hours per week on top of whatever else you were already filling that time with before the kids came along. That’s a lot of time! It’s literally almost another full-time job. So if you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s not because you’re doing anything wrong or you’re a bad parent. It’s because raising kids is hard.
Remember That You Were A Couple First
When you are knee deep in diapers and formula, it can be almost impossible to have any recollection of anything that came before giving birth. However, it’s helpful to remember (if only for a second) that the person whom you are co-parenting with is the same person that you chose above millions of other options. Even if right now, you only see your partner as someone who can take the baby so you can finally go to the bathroom, try to remember that he/she is also the one you fell in love with and treat them accordingly. Remembering that for even a split second can make a huge difference. Also, if, you are reading this and your kids are still really little, know that it does get easier.
Talk About How The Family Dynamics Have Changed Since Having Kids
One of the things that no one ever tells you about having children is that you will genuinely miss your partner once there is someone else to share him/her with. At times, you may even feel jealous of the love and affection that your partner shows your child. This might make you feel guilty, but it doesn’t have to. This is totally normal. At the same time, you’ll probably fall in love with him/her even more when you see them interacting with your little one. There are a lot of conflicting emotions involved in raising a child!
Especially if you have only one child, you might sometimes feel like the odd one out in a family situation. Talking to your partner about your feelings, and allowing him/her to talk to you about their feelings (without judging or trying to change them) can go a long way in helping all of you adjust to your growing family.
Make Time For Just The Two Of You
You will see this advice on almost every marriage blog there is, yet it’s incredibly easy to ignore. Trust me, as hard as it may seem to make time for just the two of you, things will get much harder if you don’t. You have to work at keeping the connection going between the two of you if you want to have a happy and successful relationship. No matter how busy you are, make your relationship your #1 priority – yes even above the kids. Your relationship is the foundation for the entire family. If your relationship is suffering, so will the family.
Depending on the age of your children, you can also explain to them how important it is that Mommy and Daddy have time together. You can let them know that by spending time alone, Mommy and Daddy are making their relationship even stronger, and that that is great news for the whole family.
If you would like more tips on how to maintain a strong foundation as a couple after having kids, contact me. I would love to help.