Since our son was born three years ago, I can count on one hand the number of times I have been out in the evening with my other half. Are you shocked? I probably would have been, if someone had told me this when I was pregnant and telling everyone who would listen that our lives weren’t going to change one bit when the tiny human came into our lives. I even booked gig tickets for the two of us for a few weeks after my due date, thinking blithely that I would be able to find someone to look after the baby so we could pop out for a few hours. I hadn’t counted on the non-stop breastfeeding, the sleep-deprivation and the feeling of panic if I hadn’t clapped eyes on my newborn for a while. Needless to say, we didn’t go to the gig. In the months, and then years, that followed, we didn’t ever go to another gig, and we rarely asked anyone to look after our son in the evening so we could go out together.
As parents, it can be tough to find time to yourselves. This is especially true in a two-freelancer relationship, where evenings and weekends are often given over to work. Friends, and social media, tell us that we need a ‘date night’. That we should take the evening off from parenting, get dressed up, let our hair down, find a bar, and get really really drunk.
While that sounds like great fun, the reality is that we had already stopped doing that before having a child. We had replaced nights out with evenings in, and while we still packed away our fair share of booze, we didn’t feel the need to do it while being squeezed into the latest trendy bar. We also did other things together, like go on long walks, play squash and watch Coronation Street! As we were both self-employed, we could theoretically spend time together whenever we wanted to, and so we never felt the need to organise elaborate date nights.
However, the truth of the matter – because what’s the point if I’m not being honest? – is that I didn’t always prioritise time with him because I was so busy running a business. I was addicted to work and sat in front of my computer well into the evening and usually over the weekend too. I made time to see my friends from time to time, but my other half often dropped to the bottom of the to-do list.
Now we’re parents, things are different. Even though I’m once again running a business, and I have a child to look after too, I really want to make time for my partner in parenthood. And so I do. We meet for brunch or lunch during playgroup hours, and sometimes even linger longer than we should. He sometimes walks me to the tube if I have a meeting in town. We still watch TV together in the evenings (although it’s no longer Coronation Street), drink wine and sit side by side. We chat on the phone during the day when we’re both out at work, and it’s not always about childcare logistics! We have started to make time for each other, and appreciate every opportunity, no matter how small. Sometimes the 10-minute ‘micro-date’, downing scalding hot tea before playgroup pickup, is the best one.
More recently, we’ve been planning a wedding. As a result, we’ve needed to scope out venues, sort out endless details, have meetings with wedding coordinators and ring designers and go shopping for outfits and supplies. As none of those things are particularly child-friendly, we’ve been calling upon friends and family to help out while we do our ‘wedmin’ or we’ve been meeting up to get things done while our son is at playgroup. And it’s been great! The highlight was our tasting session in which we got to cosy up in a beautiful pub in the countryside, drink wine, eat amazing food and just talk.
In our former life, the pre-child one, we could do whatever we wanted whenever we wanted and so we didn’t make the effort. We weren’t quite so happy, and we certainly didn’t decide to get married. Since our child came along, we have found something that is better, bigger and deeper. We have battled through a long and messy childbirth, through sleepless nights and exhaustion, where accusations fly and tears are hot and angry, through neverending nappy changes, illnesses, and dinner time battles. We have come out the other side with a newfound respect and appreciation for one another, and a desire to make time for one another in our busy lives.
Before, we didn’t go on date nights because we felt like we could make time for each other whenever we wanted. Now, we don’t need date nights because we do make time for each other on a regular basis. We’re making the effort, finding new ways of spending time together, embracing the micro-date, and spending much more time together than we did before becoming parents. And we’re in a pretty good place in our relationship as a result.
This post has been written in collaboration with bubble babysitting app, as part of their #datelikeaparent campaign. I would love it if you could take 5 minutes to comment below, or head on over to Twitter or Instagram and let us know how you find childfree time to hang out with your other half!
Bubble babysitting app is a service that connects us parents with great local sitters that our friends are already using and rating. You can download the app here if you want to have a look.