Finding Couple Time as New Parents

It’s really hard to find time these days for everything I want to find time for: family time, couple time, and me time. All are important. And one of them is suffering greatly: couple time.

It shouldn’t be … Maya goes to bed early enough. But it is.

Because we have fallen into the new parent trap of still trying to live like we did pre-baby, and, frankly, it’s not working.

As the film title goes, “Something’s gotta give.”

Though we generally go for a long walk after work most days with Rocco and Maya (a nice chance to unwind and chat about our days + spend some quality family time together), twice a week, my hubby goes to play racquetball with his league around 7 and comes home around 9. So, since there’s nowhere I’d rather be, anyway, I stay with Maya. Then, if I’m not too wiped out when he gets home, I’ll hit the gym, come home and shower and prep for the next day; often he is studying or on a group call. So I’ll blog or play Words with Friends and go to sleep.

Which means we get like alone time/time together as a couple.

Here’s where things get tricky: it’s not like we can just stop working out and, obviously, we can’t go at the same time — someone needs to watch Maya.

Unfortunately, both of us are the kind of people that NEED exercise. Not in the OCD manner of a few years ago, of course, but still. We used to be able to run or bike together, so I didn’t mind our separate workout routines otherwise … but those days are gone now.

And I feel better about myself when I have the opportunity to work out; when I don’t, I’m more tired and cranky. Realistically, I can’t go in the mornings anymore (I need to pump and get myself and Maya ready to be out the door by 7:30–and it takes me the full 90 minutes to do all that)  and his league is a night league, so it’s not like that could change. And I won’t go right after work because then I’d have no time with Maya. So I’m stuck going at night, if at all. Lately, I’ve just been too tired to go. Not good for my mind or my body.

Which brings me to the weekends.

I feel bad saying this because it could bite me later, but Maya is an easy and adaptable baby. (I’m not gloating; this is what others tell me and since she’s my only kid I have no comparison). She goes wherever. She can sit quietly anywhere (even in a client meeting recently, which is a funny story for a later time!) so we bring her with us everywhere: to dinner, brunch, coffee, even happy hour with friends (at restaurants–not bars!). I realize this phase won’t last forever once she’s mobile, but for now, she’s our little trooper.

We don’t have family around to babysit so we could have a night out (though we did have a date night back when Maya was a month old and my mom came to visit).Thing was, it was nice to take advantage of the opportunity of having family here, but we weren’t desperate for a night out yet at that point.

And we’re still not at that desperate point but I could see us getting there soon. Very soon. As in, July 12 is hubby’s birthday soon! (Thinking about asking one of Maya’s babyschool teachers to sit for us).

The lack of time together upsets him, too, but I’m more worked up about this than he is; his schedule is the one that is the least able to budge since I’m not the one getting my MBA and since my work schedule is more flexible. So it’s hard.

I knew things would change when we had a baby, but this part is tough. So I thought I’d reach out to you, my blog readers and ask … how do you make it work?! Any and all suggestions welcome!

How about you? How do you make time for yourselves as a couple? What has to give in order to make it happen?

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11 thoughts on “Finding Couple Time as New Parents

  1. I hear ya. Now that Nate goes to bed early (7pm) we, too, find ourselves with free time but we always take it to do individual things. And while our parents don’t mind sitting once in a while, they wouldn’t be up for it weekly and, frankly, I still don’t enjoy going out and leaving Nate at home, even if he’s asleep. (Btw, he’s 13 mths now and still easy and adaptable and a joy to take to restaurants – he’s not necessarily “quiet” but he’s good, so hopefully you continue to be as lucky as we are! … and it really is luck, I think. lol)

    For us, what would have to give comes down to two things: us sacrificing some of our “me” times (me: reading/tv, him: video games), and me being more willing to have babysitters.

  2. Glad I’m not alone! 🙂 I hope so, too!! Yea, and I read some article in Parents mag that basically says a lot of new parents fall into this trap–using each other for childcare to pursue individual interests or pursue individual interests after the baby is asleep. I don’t think individual time is bad … we all need it! But it’s not like my “me” time is spent in a bubble bath or something fun … it’s the gym, ya know? I’m totally OK with the idea of a sitter like a teacher at babyschool — they will do it if you ask – but wouldn’t be comfortable with a stranger.

    [Oh and Maya’s bedtime is sometimes as early as 7-715 these days … all depends on if she had a late afternoon nap at babyschool or not. Poor girl starts rubbing her eyes at 630 and it’s all downhill from there!]

    1. Nate’s tired the entire night after I get him from daycare. I could probably put him to bed as soon as we get home but he has to eat dinner! Before he was getting good 2+ hr naps at daycare, I was putting him to bed at 6:30/6:45 some nights. 😦

      And, yeah, I don’t know if I’ll ever be okay with a stranger as sitter. I’m not even ready for a friend’s responsible college-age daughter or something yet.

  3. Sing it, sister! I hear you loud and clear. Owen goes to bed at 6:45pm and then Benjamin and I usually make dinner together. And by “make dinner together” I mean I make dinner and he goes to the basement to finish up some work. And then we eat together. And by “eat together” I mean that we sit next to each other on the couch and bond over Mad Men or Grey’s Anatomy or the like.

    Don’t get me wrong; it’s actually a really nice way to unwind together. But there’s got to be more to couple time than tv, right? Exercise has taken a serious back seat for us recently, and that’s going to need to change very soon too, so I’m not sure where that leaves us. And babysitter nights sound like a great idea in theory, but then I feel like we’re “wasting” money for a sitter AND dinner, and would rather just sit at home.

    My husband’s schedule involves a LOT of travel, so many nights I’m home alone doing bedtime and bathtime, and after that’s over I make Owen’s food for the next day, eat something out of the ‘fridge for dinner and head to bed super early. I like to spend my “me time” sleeping 🙂

    1. LOL Kate–we usually eat watching reruns of The Daily Show and Colbert … but it works for now. It’s totally NOT how I grew up … and hopefully we’ll have more of a real “dinnertime” when Maya is older, but for now, with two working parents, it’s HARD. We have come to accept that. Plus, most nights dinners are grab-and-go … cereal, quesadillas, eggs …easy stuff. Dinner is our lightest meal of the day, easily.

      YES–“me” time spent sleeping = quality 🙂

  4. Hi! I’ve read your blog for years…not sure if I’ve ever posted. 🙂 this is something I can definitely comment on. I’ve started working out on the mornings. I get up at 5 ish a few days a week and although I’m tired out works well for me. granted I don’t pump in the mornings anymore…but I manage to get in the shower by 6, get myself and my son ready and get out by 7:15. As for couple time, find a regular babysitter! Interview, get recommendations, do whatever you need to. We aim to have a date night once a month or so.

    1. Hi Jen and thanks for commenting!! I love hearing about readers. My gym opens at 5:30 so I’m toying with the idea of pumping at 5, leaving by 520, and getting in a 30-min cardio session so I can be home again by 6, pump again and then get ready. It’d be rushed for sure, but I can’t leep losing my nights to the gym or worse, not working out at all b/c it’s so late by the time I can go and I’m pooped.

      We are going to use her babyschool teachers — will ask around who is free and would like to be considered for regular opps like once a month even. These are girls I already trust my precious cargo to, girls who know how she likes to be cared for and can predict or preempt her needs. So I feel comfortable with them.

  5. Something that’s worked for us is to have a friend – one without kids – come over and sit in the house when Liam’s asleep (he goes down at 7 or 7:30) so we can go out and have a late dinner together, even if it’s a quick one. They love it, because all they have to do is sit and watch Netflix, we pay them by ordering a pizza or something, and they feel like they’re really helping us out. We do this maybe once a month on a Thursday or Friday night.

    We do have a regular sitter for big nights out (she sits for us 2 days during the week too), but we pay her $11 an hour, so I hate the idea of paying her to come over and sit on the couch (even though we love her and trust her). It just feels like a waste.

    Another thing we often do is on Friday nights, order sushi and crack a bottle of wine after Liam goes to bed and eat a real meal at our real table, not in front of the TV!

    But I don’t know if there will ever be enough couple time. Even though we work at it, we still feel like we rarely see each other.

    Too funny that your hubby wants another baby. Mine does too, but I am NOWHERE near ready (and my son’s almost 2). I am perfectly happy with one…we’ll see if he can convince me. 🙂

    1. That’s nice that you guys do that … I know a lot of people never go out as a couple, period, and I don’t want to ever become that way … but I can see how hard it can be. And it’s a good point, too, that you and Kate made — you’re paying someone to sit there while your kid is asleep + paying for your night out … but I guess it’s worth it for our sanity and marriage, right? 🙂

      Isn’t it weird?! I’m like, dude, let’s enjoy Maya first! I had a C-section so we do need to space them 18 mths AT LEAST according to my OB. I loved having a winter baby and would want them spaced out about 2 yrs so I’m thinking maybe early next year? NO RUSH! Plus, we don’t know how long it’ll take … we weren’t actually trying with Maya and were blessed with a surprise — so who knows for next time!

  6. Dude. I echo the sentiments about finding a sitter through a trusted source. You MUST have a date night every once in awhile. You simply must. Baby is important but it’s the bond you two share that made that baby possible. You have to nurture that!

    1. I totally agree. I think my edits to the post (about using babyschool teachers as sitters) didn’t come through in Google Reader but yes, we are definitely going to talk to those teachers!! 🙂 Esp since Maya goes to bed so early now and is so steady with sleeping through the night, ya know? It’d be the easiest job ever

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