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Our Favourite Ways to Maintain a Strong Relationship with your Partner

Tinies Relationship Special: Relationships change all the time, but nothing changes a relationship more than a child or children. Trying to remain a "couple" while being parents isn't always easy, but it can be done

 

Comedian Michael McIntyre does an hilarious routine where he talks about how childless couples are clueless about what it's like to be parents. He mimics the couples:

"'Wouldn't it be so lovely to have little versions of you and me running around... I'd love to have a family. And you think you know what you're talking about... YOU HAVE NO IDEA!'"

Being a parent adds a new element of closeness to a relationship. You're raising this little being together, and it's beautiful. You see a new side to your partner and it's a wonderful new facet to their personality, which will no doubt make you love them even more. However, it's also incredibly stressful, and keeping your relationship on track may take a little work.

BC (Before Child)

Remember meeting for a drink after work? How about long, lingering dinners without interruption? Extra money for vacations? Unless you have full-time help most of that will change. This is not to scare you, but more so you can have a realistic expectation of life after baby.

Work the conversation

When one of you goes back to work, suddenly the other one is home all day with the baby - enslaved to their tiny master. Understand that conversation may change, from world current events and grown up discussions to "little Timmy did seven wees today!"

The person at home may, by default, be seen as the housekeeper. For someone previously in the workforce or used to a more equal division of labour, this may be a struggle. Discuss and set ground rules before assuming what each partner is doing.

Mums may feel like part of themselves is gone - everyone will focus on the new baby. Partners should try and send some attention mum's way as well. Just asking how she's doing is a start. The parent who goes back to work gets a little/a lot of their old life back, so it's important to remember the one at home. Believe us, even an hour child free, to get your hair cut or to meet a friend for coffee, can be bliss.

Conversely, a lot of pressure may be put on the one going back to work, especially if you're going from two incomes to one. Now is a difficult time to think about putting yourselves in the other person's shoes, but it's an important exercise. Talk to each other about your days, no judgements, no competition, just listen.

Money money money

Adding a new person and potentially losing a salary can cause financial strain, which in turn can put stress on the relationship. It's important to talk these things out before they become problems.

Think about budgets, saving for a rainy day and future child related expenses. Money can be a difficult topic to discuss but this is one time it needs to happen.

Let's talk about sex

After a baby is born and you're both operating on minimal sleep, sex is usually an afterthought - most people want to get into bed to sleep for as long as they can before the baby starts crying. While you might steal a few minutes of alone time now and then, relationships often resume when the child is around two years old.

Which isn't to say it won't be different. Spontaneity takes a toll when you often wake up with a child or children in bed with you in the morning.

What you can do: Keep up the intimacy. It doesn't have to be sex, but kisses and cuddles, and physical contact shows that the feelings are still there, even if the actual act is not happening.

Relationship tips:

  • Talk to each other - this sounds simple, and it is. Just talk like people - not just parents - people
  • Dates - plan yourself a date night once a month if you can, leave the kids with relatives or get a regular sitter - one you trust - so you can go out together, relax and have a good time without constantly checking your phone
  • Non-date dates - you don't have to go out and spend money on a sitter, or a fancy dinner. Put the kids to bed and have a date at home. Have a nice meal, either homemade or take away, no TV, no distractions; or plan a movie/TV night together, make popcorn, open a bottle of wine and hold hands
  • Be aware - look out for the other person, how they are doing and what's going on in their life when they are not with you
  • Family days - it's okay to enjoy each other as a family as well
  • Think about the other person - as an individual, they are not just mummy or daddy
  • Show tokens of affection - small things, a text to say "I love you" or "I'm thinking of you" in the middle of the day, or leave notes around the house. It sounds silly, but everyone loves being told they are important.
 
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