As a relationship coach and educator I often work with couples who say that their children are exhausting, and they have no energy left for each other. They would like to experience life beyond the constant juggle of a stressful job, children, finances and household duties. We can relate to these feelings and struggles – children do require a lot of time and energy. However, I choose not to use my children as an excuse to hold back on experiencing the things that I love and value, or give up on quality time with my partner.
So here are the 11 relationship tips that will allow you to increase your energy, invigorate your relationship with your partner, and experience joy and happiness on a daily basis while raising happy children.
1 . How do you find energy?
Firstly, stop telling yourself that you don’t have any. Start living in this moment. Energy is a mindset. Are you surviving/functioning or enjoying life? We are the powerhouse. We generate enough energy for a thousand lifetimes. It is the stories we tell ourselves that drain our energy. The stories of not having enough, of comparison or of wanting something else. We think we want a different life instead of loving the life we have. Energy comes from clear thinking and living in this moment.
2. Fill up your own energy tank first
The oxygen mask on an airplane goes on you first before you can help another. We are useless to the ones who need us when we are depleted. It is not the children exhausting the parents; it is the parents not taking care of themselves. Create nights out, kids free time, daily moments of adult interaction, do what you enjoy even for short periods of time. Children are not exhausting, not fulfilling yourself as a human being is.
3. My partner is a priority
Actively cultivating love and gratitude in the relationship must take priority. Cultivating love in your marriage cultivates love in your family, cultivates love in your children, cultivates love in your community and in the world. Ask yourself what role model you want to give your children? Martyr parent who sacrificed their life for their children or a joyful, loving person who truly embraces life? What kind of marriage you want your children to have? A sexless and boring existence or a loving, passionate and supporting relationship? Be wise, lead by personal example, you are your children’s greatest teacher.
4. Stop blaming and judging yourself
You are a great parent! Observe your thoughts without judgement. Cultivate new positive intentions. Everything you do is driven by love and intention to care for your children. Be an outstanding parent not a perfect parent. Perfection is the worst standard of all because it can never be achieved. Every day remind yourself with love and passion “I love my kids, I love my partner, I love myself, I love my life, I do the best I can! I am awesome!”
5. Become more efficient with your time
Be mindful of activities that are most tiring. Write down answers to the following questions with your partner. What specifically do you find exhausting? Are the children exhausting every minute of every day? When are they less exhausting? What contributes to things being better? What patterns have you noticed that contribute to things being most exhausting (too much sugar, too many activities, not enough down/quiet time, getting each other too wound up, etc.). What could you change about their routines or rituals that would make things less exhausting?
6. Create a new vision for your day
Describe what a great day would look like with respect to your children and household? How would it be different from what you have now? How would a relaxing or fun day look? What would need to change to make that your reality? Examine your beliefs about what a “perfect house is” or “my children must be loaded with activities”. Find resources to create this day, reach our for help from your family, collaborate with friends, get a baby sitter, a cleaner, order healthy take away twice a week.
7. Define the new normal and accept it
One of the ladies I know once said: ”I have 4 little kids. I haven’t slept a normal night sleep in 12 years. Once I realised that my normal changed I ran out of exhaustion into complete acceptance and gratitude for my new normal. Our bedroom life has benefited immensely”. What old beliefs that do not support your current life conditions you have being holding on to? What exciting, energising and fulfilling activities you gave up since you became a parent? What is your new normal?
8. Life is about balance
Just like in an organization, if there are conflicts at the management level, they trickle down to the employees and functioning of the organization. Overly demanding children are often times a reflection for anxious state of the parents. Parent’s unhappiness makes children feel insecure thus they demand more time and care. Parents are required to put even more effort to get the children back on track which makes the parents even more exhausted. This is a bad cycle parents should try to break. Balance and prioritize your relationship first because it is good for your children.
9. Consistency, consistency, consistency
Consistency and agreement with your partner in relation to children is more important than what you agree upon. Parents must act as a unified authority. Support your partner decision in front of the children even if you disagree as long as it doesn’t endanger children health or safety. Discuss the issue with you partner in private and agree on a solution together.
10. We waste energy when we try to juggle too many things at once
I learned to be completely present with my daughter for short periods. For example, when we go to the beach I don’t take my phone, I focus on enjoying our time together. I choose not to check my messages, emails, Facebook when we play together because it is her special time. She feels loved getting pure mummy time. Other times she can play on her own while I am making lunch or work.
11. Enjoy what you choose to do, don’t suffer doing what you have to do
Someone I know once said: “I used to be exhausted doing dishes…never mind the kids. Today I love doing dishes because I put a different meaning to “doing dishes”. I have time to be grateful and playful in my thoughts….my grandchildren ask “Grammie how can you have fun doing the dishes?” I tell them I have fun in “Anything” I do today because I chose to….