Parenthood brings all sorts of realizations and surprises – some profound and some small. One thing that was shocking to me after our first child was born was the amount of ‘stuff’ that comes with kids. In the early years, it’s equipment. A swing, bouncer, exersaucer, bottles, breast pump. The list goes on and on. As they get older it’s toys. The playthings start small and then get increasingly larger. Until they hit about age 6. Unless we’re talking about boys. I don’t know when their toys start shrinking. My husband and boys still play with rather large swords.
Early in my parenting journey I received some excellent advice in regards to “kid stuff”. A wise woman, AKA my mom, advised me to really work to keep the master bedroom free from kid remnants. Not your children, but their stuff. Their toys, clothes, books, whatever. The point she was making was the importance of providing yourself and your spouse a space that is prime for solace and romance. When you have children, the master bedroom tends to be the only option for that.
If we make it a priority, our bedrooms can provide a relaxing place to read, talk on the phone or just stare at the wall, taking a break from the chaos. It’s important. We don’t suddenly lose all fundamental human needs when we become parents. Sure, there are luxuries that we are required to forfeit, as we should. But there are certain self-care practices that cannot be abandoned. It took me a great deal of time to accept this truth. I come from a long line of martyrs, where the practice is to meet every single need of others around you, even if that means that yours get a bit neglected.
Let me let you in on a secret – martyrdom cannot be sustained. If we aren’t mentally, emotionally and physically healthy, we aren’t much good to anyone around us, especially our children who inherently require so much.
And let’s not forget the romance side of things. A bedroom where you’re stepping over dollies and pulling out teddy bears from under the covers doesn’t lend itself well to setting the mood for married people things. Let me back up, we all know there is very little that will ruin things for a man. But, for a woman, there is a very delicate balance that requires much maintenance. I’m going to go out on a limb here (albeit, a short one) and guess that it doesn’t take much to tip the scales to ‘having a headache’ for most women. It sure doesn’t for me. Mental and physical exhaustion are already two strikes against a mother. Throw in there the required shift from mommy to wife, and trying to get your mind off the ever growing To Do list forming in your head, and you’ve got yourself a mountain to climb. A tall one. Visual reminders of your kiddos like toys and toddler clothes will just make that shift out of mommy mode that much harder.
My worldview puts God first, my hubby second and my children third. My kids absolutely mean the world to me, and I love them like crazy, but I loved Jeff first. I made vows to him. He is my best friend and partner for life, God-willing. Children are an amazing gift from God, but they pass through our lives. They will hopefully come back for holidays, and for sure welcome us over anytime we offer to babysit, but they move on with their own lives. I hope and pray that the relationship with my kids will remain close through their adult years, but their involvement in our lives will certainly decrease dramatically.
At this point, my parents and husband are probably laughing right now because I have an extraordinarily close relationship with my mom and dad. Let’s just say the decrease hasn’t been quite as dramatic as many other child/parent relationships. We all hope for that, but it’s certainly not guaranteed.
Now, during the newborn phase, most rules don’t apply. You’re going to have baby paraphernalia pretty much everywhere, including your bedroom. While it’s a stage in which you really do need solace, the truth is that just don’t get any. For a while. And let’s face it, the romance thing just isn’t happening at that point anyway.
Bottom line – For us to remain healthy, our brains and bodies require peace and rest. For our marriages to remain healthy, our relationship requires intimacy and sex.
So why don’t you give it a try? Clear your bedroom of kid paraphernalia, and keep it that way for two weeks. Consistently make your bed, clear out the clutter and keep the clothes off the floor. Or just pile the clothes up neatly in the corner. Whichever you can handle. Then give yourself some freedom for a little room time. Allow yourself some time to sit in there doing whatever you want, even if just for 10 minutes a day. On a few evenings a week, invite your spouse to join you to chat or even just read in the same room. See what develops from it. I’m betting your brain will be a little clearer, your relationship a little bit closer and your sex a little hotter.
Report back and share how it played out for you and your other half. I’d love to hear!
So here’s to saner parents and stronger marriages!