Maintaining Relationships When You Have Kids
Hello hello hello!
This week I am going to focus on an issue that many moms (whether new or seasoned) come to me with: the difficulty of maintaining relationships when you have kids. Relationships are what our lives are made of. They inspire, motivate, support, enlighten, lighten and strengthen our lives. It is because of this that we need to keep and nurture healthy relationships. Easier said then done? Perhaps. But there are few things that you can do today to help make this happen. So let's get started!
First off, recognize that you will forever be changed since having children. You will never be the exact same person that you were before having kiddos, nor will your relationships. Please do not spend time trying to "get back" to who you were before having kids. This approach often turns out to be unfulfilling and damaging. Instead, spend time recognizing, creating and owning the new sides of you and your relationships and then adding them to your "old" self. If you haven't already done this, get on it! You cannot fully move forward without recognizing this.
Prioritize your time. This means cutting out the excess and the bullshit. Stop giving your time to draining, high-maintenance people. Stop giving your time to drama and events that exhaust you, and give that precious time to people who deserve it. Say no when you mean no. Set your limits and stick to them. Don't overdo. I know this can be a tricky one, but, as we've talked about in the past, this will get easier the more you practice.
Make gestures; no matter how small. If you continually cannot find time to spend with someone who is important to you, do something small. Send them a card, give them a quick call, send them a funny video. Whatever it is, do something to let this person know that they are still important to you. This has huge impact and is easy to fit into any busy schedule.
Learn to create smaller quality moments in your relationships. It's a fact that you are going to have less time and energy as a parent, but this doesn't mean that you have to sacrifice quality. Carve out smaller amounts of time where you can make sure that you are totally engaged, totally present and can give 100% to whomever you are sharing your time with. You guys can even insert my 15/30/60 rule here if it helps. If you have only have 15 minutes today to be present with your partner, take it and make it happen. Maybe tomorrow you will have 30 or 60, but either way, small increments of time are easier to commit to and have a large impact if you are consistent with them.
Know what you can give and stick to it. This can be harder to figure out at first, but if you listen to yourself you will eventually see a pattern of what you can and cannot give. It's important to know this and not to give more or you will feel totally tapped out. For this one, you really need to make sure to listen to yourself, and keep listening to yourself.
When you need it, make the time. Make it happen. This one can also be a bit trickier because, let's be honest, what parent has "time"? BUT! You can do it. Listen to yourself, carve out time and make sure you are present. Again, this does not have to be a massive commitment - even an hour with someone dear to you can be extremely fulfilling.
Take the time to tell others how you feel. Being vulnerable is one of the things that people appreciate the most in relationships. It deepens and intensifies our connections. So talk to your friends, family or partner. Just share. I know that it is hard for many of us to show our vulnerable side in fear that we may appear weak, unstable or overly fragile, but if you cannot be vulnerable with this person, is it really someone that deserves your time? (think...think...think).
Communicate to others. If you need something in a relationship, speak up. This is not just about you giving what you can and maintaining a relationship, this is also about you asking for what you need. Take some time to think about it, and don't be afraid to ask for it.
Have understanding. Have understanding for yourself, your life changes, but also for others. And please don't feel like you're doomed to forever be "lost" in who you once were. We are always changing as individuals. You are not the same person you were at twenty years old or that you will be at sixty years old, regardless if you have kids or not. So deep breath, this is not a bad thing. Kids just propel us into change at a faster pace than we are used to. We become more complex individuals when having children, and that is a beautiful and friggin magical thing.
This is SUCH a massive subject that we could talk about for hours and hours. But for now, I hope that the last few minutes of reading have helped you find a strategy or two that you can fit into your life today. And as allllllways. PLEASE! Let me know what you think and feel free to pass this along to anyone who may benefit from it, you never know when you may have a chance to help someone.
With much love and much light,