Ro­mance and par­ent­hood in the same sen­tence?

Life & Style Weekend - - YOU - With Joanne Wil­son

DO YOU strug­gle to find bal­ance be­tween your role as a par­ent and then as a spouse?

You have plenty of com­pany there, as ev­ery­one at some point finds this a chal­lenge.

They may well be your two most im­por­tant and re­ward­ing roles of your life but jug­gling both can be the most dif­fi­cult.

You can achieve bal­ance and the ro­mance that comes with it. Try my 10 tips, de­signed to help you think, feel and act dif­fer­ently to get you on your way to a hap­pier part­ner, hap­pier chil­dren and, most im­por­tantly, a hap­pier you.

1) Think of your­self as hu­man

Many of us fail to see the in­her­ent symp­toms of be­ing an im­per­fect hu­man such as be­ing moody, tired and for­get­ful etc. While ex­celling your­self is fab­u­lous, recog­nis­ing your lim­i­ta­tions and em­brac­ing them is an­other thing. Why not lose your as­pi­ra­tions for “su­per mum” or “won­der dad” some­times? A new­born is sure to take the fo­cus off your spouse dur­ing this tricky time, how­ever ac­knowl­edg­ing each other’s lack of re­silience in the face of lack of sleep will cer­tainly be ap­pre­ci­ated.

2) Dis­cover your per­sonal def­i­ni­tions

What is your def­i­ni­tion of a Step­ford wife or the per­fect hus­band? How do you de­scribe a lov­ing par­ent? Where did these ideas come from – a movie? Are you aim­ing to recre­ate what your par­ents did or do ev­ery­thing dif­fer­ently? It’s worth con­sid­er­ing as op­er­at­ing in­con­sis­tently with your val­ues and un­healthy ex­pec­ta­tions can leave you feel­ing like a bad or ab­sent par­ent or part­ner.

3) Look at the big pic­ture In the grand scheme of things, your kids will not likely re­mem­ber you for­got the money for the school bake sale (I for­got again this year). Your wife will prob­a­bly not re­mem­ber you were 10 min­utes late last week. They will re­mem­ber the things that mat­tered. Make it a non-ne­go­tiable to get to that im­por­tant footy game or bal­let con­cert they are su­per ex­cited about. Take a mo­ment to send him or her some words of en­cour­age­ment for their big pre­sen­ta­tion this week. Fo­cus on what counts. Peter Ban­ning (Peter Pan) did in the end.

4) Min­imise the guilt

Car­ry­ing the heavy sack of the times when you couldn’t be there or a Clark Gris­wold-es­que par­ent­ing fail­ure gets in the way of be­ing the best par­ent and part­ner you can be today. Do your­self and ev­ery­one a favour and for­give your­self. It’s a choice to for­give, so learn from it and launch your­self to suc­cess as a re­sult.

5) Let go of worry

Sim­i­larly, worry stands in the way of be­ing our best selves. If worry tricks you into think­ing you’re do­ing some­thing use­ful, it’s usu­ally point­less. The next time you find your­self ru­mi­nat­ing about up­set­ting some­one or for­get­ting some­thing, ei­ther do some­thing about it (eg. ask them how they feel) or sim­ply let it go and fo­cus on mov­ing for­ward.

6) Main­tain healthy bound­aries

Lack of bound­aries leads to chil­dren in­ter­rupt­ing, in­suf­fi­cient pri­vate time and tak­ing on too much. Healthy bound­aries in­volve con­sis­tent child bed times, healthy rou­tines and self-com­pas­sion. Do you have a reg­u­lar “date” with your part­ner to pro­tect your re­la­tion­ship? Do you in­ten­tion­ally pro­vide con­sis­tent emo­tional at­ten­tive­ness for your chil­dren so it fa­cil­i­tates time for your ro­man­tic re­la­tion­ship too? Cap­tain Von Trapp learnt this.

7) Fo­cus on team­work

It is vi­tal you and your part­ner are a united front. This means agree­ing about what kind of par­ents you want to be and sup­port­ing each other. Hold reg­u­lar dis­ci­pline dis­cus­sions in pri­vate then re­mem­ber to back your part­ner in the par­ent­ing de­ci­sions. Show ap­pre­ci­a­tion for Mr Mum’s ef­forts. Par­ent­ing is re­lent­less so sim­ple words can go a long way.

8) Model healthy be­hav­iours

You are men­tor­ing your chil­dren ev­ery day. Show your chil­dren the value of hav­ing life bal­ance and pri­ori­tis­ing re­la­tion­ships by mod­el­ling this in your ac­tions. Chil­dren ben­e­fit from see­ing you put your re­la­tion­ship with your spouse first at times. Date night booked yet?

9) Com­mu­ni­cate with ev­ery­one – in­clud­ing your­self Never for­get the value of open, hon­est com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Firstly, reg­u­larly tap into your own feel­ings and needs, then be brave enough to seek feed­back from your part­ner and chil­dren. Don’t as­sume they know what’s in your head. Healthy com­mu­ni­ca­tion leads to more bal­ance and har­mony for ev­ery­one.

10) Ro­mance and in­ti­macy is para­mount

Re­mem­ber your first date? Why not recre­ate those early days with some­thing rem­i­nis­cent? Can you im­prove on it with a won­der­ful sur­prise? Reach out to friends or fam­ily to help fa­cil­i­tate time out with reg­u­lar babysit­ting. Be okay to ask for help as par­ent­ing and part­ner­ing isn’t al­ways easy.

Adopt these tips and you and your fam­ily will be “climb­ing ev­ery moun­tain” around the Sun­shine Coast singing Do Re Mi be­fore you know it.

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