Making Space for Romance with Young Babies at Home

Strangers sometimes ask me when I’m going to have another baby, because strangers ask inappropriate questions like this all the time. I usually laugh at them, because who has time to conceive another baby with 3 young kids at home?

See that picture over there? We’re years away from enjoying that. Two years ago, we went to Belize for a friend’s wedding and took our baby along with us. We weren’t toasting at sunset so much as shushing a restless, sweaty baby. But at least we were doing those things at the beach!champagne at sunset

I think the thing that excites me most about our family feeling complete is the chance to focus on my relationship with my husband again once we’re past this demanding baby stage. My youngest son is 9 months old, so he still nurses frequently. I’m tandem nursing my toddler, and I’m almost always feeling touched out.

Watching Mad Men after we get our 3 sons to sleep is about as much connection as my husband I can find lately. Don’t get me wrong: Joan Harris, some ice cream, and some episode discussion makes for an enjoyable evening. But I’m really looking forward to connecting with my partner.

Going on actual dates feels so thrilling, because it happens so infrequently. It’s expensive to find a sitter for 3 kids, and because of all the nursing, I just don’t feel comfortable having someone else put my kids to bed. If I’m not comfortable, I’m not enjoying myself on my date!

Here are some of the strategies we’ve used to plan dates since our third son was born. We don’t get to use them frequently, but we’ve been lapping up every chance we get:

1. Plan way ahead. It’s just not easy to be spontaneous when we have to find someone to care for our children in order to be alone together. I plan our dates a month in advance. It won’t always be this way, but it is for right now.

2. Consider brunch. Even with a young baby, I felt ok about brunch dates because my babies generally nap around that time of the morning. It generally worked out that I could nurse my baby down for nap, show the sitter around the house, and sneak off with my husband to enjoy some eggs without worrying too much about pumping or disrupting nighttime sleep.

3. Embrace the early bird special. We’ve done a few 430-630pm dates. We show up just as restaurants are opening for dinner service and happily sit down among our elderly companions. The point isn’t to be hip among a hip crowd. The point is to spend time together away from the kids!

4. Figure out what you love, and find a way to make it happen. Sometimes, people want to be hip among a hip crowd. We drive a minivan and enjoy dystopian novels, so we know we aren’t hip. But we like adventurous stuff like biking and zip lining. We have about a 3 hour window for our dates, and so we need to find short rides or nearby courses that let us do these things. Sometimes we have to compromise, cut out a shared meal, skip a shower. But we get to do the fun things we love, even if they’re modified!

5. Say yes. When opportunities present themselves to us, we have to snap them up without dwelling. We spontaneously won some free babysitting in a silent auction and said yes first, then rearranged our schedule to make it happen.

6. Seek out unconventional opportunities. Two of our 3 kids are old enough for free childcare at the grocery store, and the youngest kid doesn’t talk yet. So if we drop off the older 2, we can spend some time walking around and talking, even enjoy a terrible grocery cafe sandwich. Plus our baby can enjoy some solo time with his parents, which he rarely gets because he’s the third kid. The older ones love the playroom, so everyone wins!

What advice do you have for sneaking in some romance with your partner while the kids are young? Leave us a comment to share your tips!

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