Parenting, Relationship

We don’t need a date night, thank you very much

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.

elaine-and-gary-in-pub
At the very beginning… (yes, that’s a glow stick on my wrist)
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.

elaine-and-gary-recent
We even colour-coordinate nowadays!
Fitness

Babies: the ultimate weight loss tool

Now that I have a toddler, I look back with fondness at the baby days for many different reasons, but today, as I sadly admitted defeat when the button of my favourite pair of jeans stubbornly refused to fasten, I am thinking particularly of those heady first few months when, against everything I believed before having a baby, I was actually losing weight and looking good!

If you don’t believe this is possible, here are just some of the reasons why the first few months with a baby can actually help you to shed some pounds without any effort on your part. And you still get to eat biscuits.

  • Your baby will only fall asleep if you have them tied to your chest in a sling and you bounce, jiggle or, in the case of my bundle of joy, perform deep squats on repeat (a serious workout for the glutes).
  • They always choose the worst time to fall asleep without the aforementioned jiggling, like in your arms just as the sandwich you have prepared is just out of reach, leaving you to stare longingly at it while they have the longest nap they’ve had to date.
  • Despite looking forward to wine for 9 months, when the baby is born, you realise that you still can’t drink any because you now have a tiny person attached to your boob 24/7 and so the binge session has to wait a bit longer.
  • You walk round and round and round and round your local park/estate/block to get the baby to sleep and then to keep them asleep.
  • They will keep you awake half the night until you feel sick from exhaustion and couldn’t possibly put any food in your mouth. Besides, you have no energy left to chew.
  • Breastfeeding. Obviously. I developed my terrible biscuit addiction during the early days of breastfeeding when all of the calories I consumed disappeared straight out of my boobs, but unfortunately haven’t been able to stop eating them since.
  • You meet the best mum mates at postnatal fitness classes. There’s no way to sit in the corner and pretend to be invisible or quietly skulk in and out. Plus a workout gets the endorphins going, so everyone is in a great and receptive mood at the end of the class. You also have the time to go to these classes because you can take your baby along too. No-one wants a roomful of toddlers in an exercise class.
  • The endless stream of visitors will eat all of your biscuits. Bastards. Do none of them read those helpful articles on what you should bring a new mum? You bring food, you bring tea, you look after the baby while mum sleeps, and you leave. The end. None of my visitors had consulted the manual before arriving biscuit-less, hungry and with no intention of taking over the endless rocking/squatting or passing me my sandwich.

Any more to add to the list?

Exercise bike with baby
Me and Beanie on an exercise bike. Natch.