Remember me? Trying to reconnect with your partner with a house full of kids

How’s things with you and your significant other at the mo? Like if you were rating where would you sit? -5? 3? 9? Somewhere in between? It’s hard isn’t it? Sometimes when I am drinking milk out of the carton looking at the fridge and hiding from my family I see pictures of us and think “was that EVER us?!”

IT’S HARD to stay connected, and like a couple with all your offspring and their demands, work and general fatigue 10 plus years into a marriage, it’s hard bloody going. Especially when there are little kids involved. I am telling you – having some kids through the trenches of early childhood and onto the other side of independence that it just is. Tiredness, toddlers, babies all that shit just does NOT make for a happy couple, it just doesn’t. There’s an inevitable imbalance with the care and demands of small kids, it’s just the way it is and it’s bullshit, but for most Mums that’s just the way the cookie crumbles (and spills onto the floor that you will inevitably have to clean up too). There’s fights over stupid stuff that doesn’t matter but REALLY seems to matter at the time, there’s a complete lack of sex drive for many women (maybe that’s just me?) and then the follow up guilt trip about NOT having sex that builds it up to be a bigger deal than it needs to be that can sometimes seem IMPOSSIBLE to even broach, let alone jump back on the horse, so to speak. It’s exhausting. And hard. And I am here to tell you here and NOW that EVERYONE is in the same boat. They just are. The more kids, the harder it is.

I see a wettex too Kath.

And even with older kids it’s easy to fall into traps of just going about your normal, busy lives: as they grow up that seems to be a shitload of time in the car taking them from one place to another, and going to bed before your kids as they start to stay up later and later. Parents of young kids there will be a time when your kids used to be asleep hours before you and it will seem like the stuff that dreams were made of!

Except you have a toddler now and that shit is HARD, so really, you are damned one way or the other right?

Rob and I, while both working from home and spending waaaaaay more time than most couples do together still means that we might not be that connected. Sure we are a team doing all the stuff that needs doing: kids, work, washing up, house stuff, but we can still not be connected from each other like we could be.

Spending time together, alone, away from your children, away from all the normal distractions that can happen at night: phone scrolling, Netflix, work, emails gives you the simple act of connection. THIS is way more important than anything else when you are thick in the trenches of kids. It’s more important than sex which I reckon sometimes gets added to a very long imaginary to-do list of things that I have to do for other people in my family. What? THAT TOO? Talking, laughing, remembering…all re-connect you with your partner and wipe out all the stuff that we think is “so important” which really isn’t at all. Talking about a good holiday you took together, rather than dishwasher tablets or school notes, or calendars will instantly take you back to a place of YOU guys and not family.

And the best bit is that these things can be done at home, without the expense of a babysitter, or dinner out, or overnight stay where all you want to do is have a bath and go to bed and eat food in bed (in pj’s) but there’s this big expectation of SEX that can loom overhead. These simple tips can just bring the act of connection together, that sense of “Hey! I remember you! You’re actually funny. Or kind. Or smart” anything away from kids and day to day life. That simple connection leads to so much more – it’s a follow on that will lead to all that other stuff anyway….even sex. And you’ll realise that it’s not such a big deal after all. Huh.

So in my best Marion voice (who wants a cup of jarrah?) here are some of my top tips for reconnecting with your partner. Perhaps I have been watching too much Married at First Sight? Hmmmm.

1. Turn off devices

This simple act of turning them off, putting them away and out of reach will force you to actually TALK. So novel I know. But even in the 12 years or so that technology has really taken over our lives we have gotten into such bad habits. I know I am not the only one that spends most nights on the couch, side by side scrolling through phones whilest half watching and half talking…turn them off, put them away. Turn off the telly and put some music on.

2. Get outside

Put a picnic on in the backyard. Light a fire pit. Light a candle. A change of scene will help you to sit and talk and once that “normal” and mundane dynamic changes…so do you! Sure, your kids will inevitably come outside and follow you, but they will soon lose interest when they see you are discussing the best time to prune the photinia hedge. Believe me.

3. Create a restaurant at home

We have done this often since our Maggie was born because it’s just easier to be home rather than leaving with a babysitter. Get dressed up. Plan a nice menu with things you wouldn’t normally cook (I usually get Rob to cook too). If you have older kids get them involved with setting the table and writing out a menu – make them the wait staff! Light candles. Put on music. Sit and talk. These are always my favourite nights…you can transform your normal home into something special with not much effort (plus if the baby wakes you can deal with it, go back to dinner without worrying or checking your phone every 10 mins)

4. Take a trip down memory lane

This is one of my favourite things to do. Play music from when you were first together. Get Spotify out and play your old favourite albums. Just last week Rob and I listened to a CD we made for all the guests at our wedding and listening to it transported us back through time to all those feelings we had. I swore we loved each other 34% more after listening to it again. Watch an old favourite movie. Get your wedding video or photo album out – maybe some photos from trips you took before kids. Sounds and images will spark old fond memories that instantly transport you through time. Oh man, when did we get so old? How did that happen?

Once you take the time for this, everything flows on from there. You make each other laugh, you remember the good old days and can make plans for future ones. You start to LIKE each other again and from there? Anything can happen! Even sex that you feel like participating in, rather than obligated too. Take out all the issues that surround life as a married couple with kids, and you might just remember and like those versions of yourself that seem long forgotten. They are never really far away….promise!

So how’s things with your partner right now?
If it’s shit, I feel you, you are never alone and if you want to fix it, it’s easier than you think. Promise.
What are some of your tips for reconnecting with your partner?
Not having kids?! Ha!


  1. So agree with the trip down memory lane for reconnecting. We recently had one of our old cats die. He had been our first (fur)baby and so many memories of him were tied up with our kids being born, growing up and our early family life. My girls had apparently never seen photos of him as a kitten – only heard our stories – and he was one of those real characters. So I hunted high and low until I found my old photo albums. Everyone felt better after looking at all the old pet photos and talking about all their funny ways. It made such a difference in helping us all get over that initial feeling of loss and starting to transition to that place of being grateful that we could share in his awesomeness for as long as we did. It felt like it glued us all back together again. At the same time I also found the other pre-kid photo albums and my husband and I spent a couple of hours laughing over the memories. We both instantly felt more connected, lighter and re-filled after having so much emotion pouring out of us to help the girls get over their first experience of grief and our grief at the first significant change to our family. Several weeks on – we now have a new baby. A little schnoodle puppy!

  2. Oh yes…thank you Beth. You nailed it, again x PS love your wedding photo.

  3. Ha ha ha. You have hit the nail on the head. Again. (Especially the sex bit). The other night my husband and I played a music game, quite spontaneously. One of us had to choose a next song with some kind of connections to the the previous song. The other then had to guess the connection then choose their own song. 1 hour later the washing up was long done and we were still laughing and listening to music.

  4. Sonia South says

    You have nailed it again Beth. 20 years married this November and this has been our hardest year yet. Might have to big out the boombox and sing way!!

  5. God I needed this. I feel much better knowing that it’s not just us feeling like this at the moment. I now feel silly about the fight we had last night which started because he showcheated (started watching a show we usually watch together without me). I cracked it and brought out “I wish I had the luxury to showcheat on you but unlike you, I never have time to sit down and watch TV”. We have not spoken since I dropped that line, so now your post has made me realise I was being a cow. Periods, a day of feral children and lack of sleep are a cruel mix. Thanks for this post.

    • Oh Mrs E it’s HARD. You are allowed to be a mole sometimes, especially when you have to do everything. At least you see it, and chan ,make up for it. Imagine if you were just a Mole all the time and didn’t know it? Good luck and be easy with yourself.

  6. Oh I hear you. I love your posts because so much of your parenting speaks straight to me. My #3 baby girl Ruby is close to Maggie’s age I think (three in May – the big girls are six and eight), and yep so tough to keep that connection when a little one is dependant so much on you, but so important. Thanks for sharing this Beth. Elisa x

  7. Ok so every Friday night at ours is Happy Hour. We put on the record player, trot out a platter and a couple of bottles of wine, and we hang and chat just us (the kids usually get bored and go play somewhere else after they’ve eaten all the quince paste), and then we make pizzas and eat them on the couch. A few beverages in we end up playing Spotify roulette or looking up old music videos on YouTube. Sometimes we have a theme, like everything we choose has to be from the 90s, or all power ballads (damn some Southern Sons on your second bottle of wine is an experience)… you get the picture. There’s generally no phones, no TV, I even wait a bit before I put on the comfy pants, just generally try and hang as mates and do our thing. I can SO see you and Rob doing that x

  8. So glad I’m not the only one… feeling in a rut and not appreciating each other at all these days..Its just us and the kids all the time and yes too much scrolling on the phones at night although I must say I have finally got into
    Some Netflix series which I’m thoroughly enjoying and the phone is put down 👌😊 and it’s our 12 year wedding anniversary this weekend! Of course we probably won’t do dinner just the two of us as we are booked up most of it… maybe I will try and do something special Sunday night.. would be nice if he did… but hey, that wouldn’t happen.. 🙄

  9. When they are old enough to leave without drama (different ages for different kids!) it is wonderful to go out for dinner. We use it as a family meeting too. I seriously have an agenda of any decisions that need making, we do a review of the kids and us, check the finances on the online banking and then can enjoy each others company having go the family business back on track. Its a luxury but has been really useful for us. I find without this we have endless half conversations around kids, phones and other interruptions but dont actually make decisions about things like when and where are we going on holidays, whether we are offering to host the next family event, who is on duty for kids sport trips etc. It is also such a boost to the self esteem to dress up a bit, eat good food and wine and know that your spouse has really enjoyed your company (and vice versa). Some people think parents-only time is selfish but as the child of divorced parents I know that one of the most important gifts we can give our children is parents who are happily married, and actually like each other!

  10. I agree that raising kids can put a strain on your marriage,
    Sadly I can now tell you from experience, it in no way compares to surviving the death of a child. It’s as brutal a life experience and it sucks!!! I can only pray for things to get better in the future.

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