Importance of taking time out with your partner

The importance of taking time out with your partner

As any parent will know, it can be hard to find time for yourself let alone your other half! 

In between playdates, birthday parties and parent’s evenings, getting some quality time with your partner can prove more than a little tricky. 

However, scheduling some time together just the two of you can massively help you to reconnect and catch-up with one another. When you’ve (eventually) gotten through the baby stage, getting away on a trip together can become more of a reality. 

With that said, here are a few trip ideas for you and your partner to plan for! 

 

Romantic rendezvous

It can’t get any more romantic than Paris – right? 

With Paris just a train journey away from the coast of England, there’s no excuse as to why you can’t whisk yourself away for a long weekend. 

With so much to see and do, including tourist favourites like the Eiffel Tower and The Louvre, you won’t be short on things to do just the two of you. 

Stop in a local patisserie, get yourself a table on a quiet cobbled street and tuck into some authentic croissants and coffee. This is the ultimate short-stay break for parents who need a little time to themselves – and who doesn’t! 

 

Beach dwellers 

If you’re looking for something a little more far-flung, jet off to a beach location for some real downtime. Kicking back on a sun lounger with a cocktail in hand is the absolute dream for any parent. 

If you’re looking for an even more secluded break, you can book yourself into a private villa, like the ones from Villa Plus. Getting your own villa is the ultimate private retreat so will give you two plenty of time to fully relax away from the crowds. 

 

Adventure seekers 

Maybe you and your partner prefer to be up and about rather than sitting by the pool. In which case, an adventure break will be right up your street. Scandinavia is the ideal spot for getting your thrill-seeker fix with an abundance of activities on offer. 

A hike with your partner gives you some rare alone time and working together with your map reading skills will help you to realise why you make such a great team! 

If hiking isn’t your thing, why not rent out some bikes for a couple of days cycling? Or, make it a water sports theme and head out windsurfing, kayaking or sailing to name just a few. 

 

Staycation weekenders 

If heading abroad simply isn’t an option for you as parents, why not make a romantic staycation your priority? 

With so many beautiful spots right here in the UK, you’ll be spoilt for choice on places to go. Any of the national parks, such as the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales and the Peak District would be an excellent choice for couples looking to escape the everyday.

With such stunning scenery, you’ll hardly believe you’re just a few hours from your home. This countryside retreat is great at any time of year. Summer will give you plenty of walking while winter will give you cosy fireside evenings – perfect for parents! 

 

Heading on a holiday as a couple is a perfect way to take some time away from both the kids and the hassles of everyday life as a parent. There are plenty of couple holiday ideas out there, so get researching and put something in the diary! 

Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post

couple time as parents

Making time to be a couple and not just parents

I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it again.  Having a baby changes everything.  It really does.  Some of those changes you can kind of prepare for and others take you completely by surprise.

One of the biggest things to be affected by the addition of a baby is your relationship with your partner.

When you go from it just being the two of you to suddenly having a third person around, who needs you constantly, it can be a real shock.  Throw in the extreme tiredness that comes with a baby and it can be really hard to stay connected.

Once you’re out of the really early days that are basically just about survival, it’s so important to make time for your partner.  To reconnect.  To enjoy each other’s company.  To remember who you both are away from your roles as parents.

 

If you’re struggling with finding time to be together away from your children, or looking for ideas for things you can do together to have fun and reconnect then look no further.

Here are a few ideas for ways to find the time for each other and things to do when you manage a date night together.

 

Really short on time? Try micro dating

If your children are still really young and you’re really struggling to find a few hours to get away together then give micro dating a go.

This is basically taking 5 minutes when you can just stop and ‘be’ with your partner.

If your baby is happy in their cot for a few minutes in the morning, then cuddle up together for a bit before crawling out of bed.  Enjoy a little treat together in the kitchen while your baby is happy playing in the jumperoo.  Take 10 minutes to just sit down and talk about your day in that precious window of time after the baby goes down for the night.

It’s all about finding those little pockets of time to just focus on each other and make sure you’re staying connected.

 

Team up and play an escape room together

When you get to a point that you can leave your child with a relative, friend or babysitter for a few hours then think about avoiding the usual meal, cinema combo (not ideal choices when you’re sleep deprived) and do something different. Escape rooms for instance are a great way to bond and boost your brain cells, which lets be honest could probably do with a workout. 

Experiencing something new together can also help you rebuild your connection as you need to get thinking and working together.  

What is an escape room?

If you’ve ever watched The Crystal Maze you will get the gist, basically it’s a themed room with a series of puzzles and clues you need to solve to escape the room. There’s so many great rooms popping up across the UK with anything from Crystal Maze itself in London to Harry Potter themes and science labs. For bonus anti-adulting vibes you could go to Poppa Plock’s Wonky workshop (pictured), an Escape room in North London that is perfect for any Charlie and the Chocolate Factory fans, with twisted toys and melted dolls. There’s even a robotic ventriloquist dummy called Oki to guide you along your way. Lady Chastity’s Reserve is also a good shout and available at a range of pubs across London and Brighton. And for anyone in my old neck of the woods in Kent, you can check out this list of top escape rooms in Kent.  

If you’ve been feeling a bit disconnected from each other then this type of challenge is a great way to get back on the same page.

 

Try date day instead of date night

If you find it hard to get out in the evenings, then try taking a few hours during the day to go on a date together.

You could make an arrangement with friends who also have little ones, where you watch their child for a few hours one week and they take care of yours the next.  Then you can head out for lunch with your partner, wander round a museum, enjoy a film at the cinema or chat over a coffee at the local cafe.

Get cosy and just stay in

You don’t have to go out to have a date night.

Put the baby to bed then make an effort to make things a bit special at home.  Turn off your phones so you can be more present with each other.  Cook a nice meal, or order something from your favourite restaurant.  Find a film you both want to watch on Netflix and cwtch up together to watch it.

If you know your baby is likely to wake up before too long, then make your plans around that.  Watch an episode of something rather than a whole film.  Just make a point of being together for that window of time.

 

Go for an adrenaline rush

When you get the chance to go out for date night, try doing something that’ll get your hearts pumping.

The early stages of a relationship are often filled with adrenaline.  Our hearts beat faster and we get those butterflies in our tummies when we’re around each other.  So doing something together that gets the adrenaline pumping again is a great way to reignite those feelings for each other.

You can really go for it and sign up for a bungee jump together, or keep it simple and head to the cinema to watch a particularly scary film.  Or you could find a middle ground with something like surfing lessons or indoor rock climbing.

 

Every little moment counts…

The thing to remember is that the stage of life you’re in at the moment is just that, a stage.

Things won’t be like this forever.  You baby will get older and won’t need you as unrelentingly as they do right now.  And more time will pass and they’ll grow up and get started on their own lives.  And then it’ll just be you and your partner again.

So make the time now to do what you can to keep connected to each other.  To remind yourselves how much you love each other.  To keep in touch with the people you were before your baby arrived and everything changed.

 

Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post

seven small coloured hearts

7 amazing facts about love

It’s that time of year, when love really does seem to be all around.  And I’m embracing it, because love really is pretty wonderful.

So today I’m giving you 7 amazing facts about love to help you get in the Valentine’s day spirit.

7 amazing facts about love

7 amazing facts about love

 

1.  Your heart rate can synchronise with your partner’s

People often talk about being in sync with their partner, and apparently this can quite literally be true.

A small study carried out by Ferrer and Helm in 2012 found that when couples gazed calmly into each other’s eyes for three minutes their heart rates changed so that they were in sync.

 

2.  Hugging a loved one can reduce pain

I’ve written before about the wonders of Oxytocin and how it can make us feel better.  This amazing hormone is produced when we hug our loved ones, and according to research carried out in America it can really help reduce pain.

The researchers gave patients with headaches a dose of oxytocin as a nasal spray, and found that 50% of the patients reported their headache pain was half as bad as a result.  Not bad, considering only 11% of patients who were given a placebo reported their pain was reduced after four hours.

So next time you have a headache, try having a good cuddle rather than reaching for some tablets.

 

3.  Looking at a photo of them can also reduce pain

If you’re in pain and your partner’s not around to give you a hug, then try just looking at a photo of them instead.

A study carried out at Stanford University found that participants felt a significant reduction in pain when looking at a photo of their partner, compared to when they looked at a photo of an acquaintance.

 

4.  Love changes over time

If you’ve been with your partner for years you’ll know that things are different now from the way they were when you first got together.  Researchers from the University of Pavia have found that the romantic love we feel at the start of a relationship, the kind that leaves you ever so slightly giddy, lasts about a year.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing though, after that time couples move to a more stable, companionate love.

 

3 small pink wooden hearts

 

5.  Love is a drug

Well, it acts just like one.  When we fall in love our brains release chemicals and hormones that produce the same effect on us as taking Cocaine.   The chemicals work quickly too; a study carried out at Syracuse University found that we can fall in love in as little as a fifth of a second.

 

6.  You can feel happier by expressing gratitude to your loved ones

If you want a happiness boost, take a minute to phone someone you love and tell them how grateful you are for them and the things they’ve done for you in the past.  Studies have shown that thinking about how thankful you are for them can make you feel a little bit happier, but actually phoning them up and telling them how grateful you are causes a significantly bigger jump in your own happiness.

 

7.  Love is what matters the most

A pretty epic study was carried out over the course of 75 years that found that ultimately love is all that really matters in living a fulfilled life.

The Harvard Grant Study followed a group of 268 men for 75 years and collected data on various parts of their lives at regular intervals.  One of their main findings at the end of the study was that love is key to a happy and fulfilling life.

The psychiatrist who directed the study, George Vaillant, wrote that there are two pillars of happiness, “One is love, the other is finding a way of coping with life that does not push love away.”

He felt that the most important finding from the study is that the only thing that really matters in life is love, and the relationships we form.

 

So there you have it, 7 pretty amazing facts about love. 

And it’s not all about the love you might have as part of a couple.  The love you feel for your child, or your best friend, is just as powerful.  It’s all about connection more than anything else.

things to do to show children love every day

5 things to do every day to let your children know you love them

This is kind of stating the obvious, but I love my children.

I love them with every part of me.

But there are times when I wonder if they are aware of quite how loved they are.  They hear the words a lot, from both me and their Daddy.  But sometimes I think hearing the words isn’t quite enough.  I think they need more than that.

So I’ve come up with 5 things I can do every day to make sure they know I love them.

5 things to do everyday to let your children know you love them

5 things to do every day to let your children know you love them.

 1.  Say it.

Say “I love you” as much as you can.  This is a nice easy place to start if you’re anything like me.  We say “I love you” several times a day.  And when it comes unexpectedly you can just see their faces light up.

If you spend a fair bit of your day away from your child then think about leaving them a note in their lunchbox, or hidden in their bag, telling them you love them.

 

2.  Hug it out.

Give them a hug. And let them be the first to let go.

Generally just let them be physically close to you.

I know there are times when that much physical contact can just get too much.  I know I’ve had days when I’ve felt really touched out by bedtime.  But as much as you can, let them be close to you.

Cwtch up close on the sofa when you read or watch tv together.  Hold their hands as you walk.  Any time they reach out to you for contact, give them what they need.

 

3.  Ask them about their day.

On the way home from school, or nursery, or as you get them ready for bed, ask them about their day.  And really listen to their answer.  Ask follow on questions, and echo back key points they make so they really feel that you understand.

If you don’t get much from them when you ask “how was your day?”, then try asking about their favourite thing that happened that day.

 

4.  Let them overhear you saying good things about them.

Talk to your partner about something good your child has done that day, but make sure you do it so that they can overhear you.  Don’t make it obvious you’re doing it so they can hear you, let them think that you don’t know they’re listening.

Hearing you happily telling someone else about how great you think they are is a fab way to boost their self-esteem as well as letting them know how much you love them.

 

5.  Be visibly happy to see them.

There’s a photo that’s been doing the round recently.  A nursery in Houston put a sign up on its door telling parents to get off their phones when they picked their children up.  I don’t like the way the note was worded, but I do agree with the sentiment.

Of course there are times when we might have to take an important phone call just as the school doors open.  Or we might have a baby with us who need our attention at that moment.  But I do think it’s really important to make an effort to stop what we’re doing and greet our children with a big smile and a hug when they come out of school.

They need to know that we’re happy to see them!  The same goes for other situations too.  Look up from what you’re doing when they come in the room, and flash them a smile.  And when you first see them in the morning, try and move past the brain fog and grumpiness and say good morning to them with a happy voice.

 

So there you go, 5 things we can all try and do every day to show our children how much we love them.

If you want to go a bit further with this then you can read this post I wrote a while ago about love languages.  Once you’ve worked out what love language your child speaks then you can find even more little ways to show love in the way that they need you to.

Do you do any/all of these things with your children regularly?  Are there any other little things you do with your children to show your love?

This post has been linked up with KCACOLS.

 

What my parents have taught me about love

Things my parents have taught me about love and marriage

My parents will have been married for 46 years in August, and they’re still very much in love.  They have given me something to strive for in my own marriage.  Seriously, if Steve and I are as happy as they are in 40 years time I’ll count myself very lucky.

I don’t see my parents anywhere near as much as I’d like to (they’re in Kent and I’m in Swansea) and most of our chats are spent catching up on day to day life and what’s happening with our family (my parents have 7 grandchildren to keep track of!).  I don’t really get the chance to talk about relationships that much with my Mum, but from the chats we’ve had in the past and from watching my parents together I’ve managed to learn a few things:

Things my parents have taught me about love and marriage

 

Always say ‘I love you’

This is something that Steve and I seem to do quite naturally anyway.  There is a lot of love expressed in our house every day, between the two of us and between us and the kids.  And I do wonder if it’s something I say a lot because I heard it a lot growing up.

And even now, whenever I go and visit my parents I’ll hear a real heartfelt “Oh I do love you” from one to the other several times a day.  It’s so genuine and so ‘meant’ that it’s just really nice to hear.  Especially when they don’t necessarily know we can hear them say it!

 

It’s the little things that count

Research has shown that it’s the little things couples do for each other that really help  a relationship survive, and maybe that’s part of my parents’ secret.  There are little things that they do for each other that are really appreciated, like my dad bringing my mum a cup of tea to have in bed every morning.  It may seem small but it’s really important in making you feel like you matter to your partner.

 

“Choose a man who makes you laugh”

This is the one piece of advice my mum gave me time and again over the years.  It makes sense really, if you’re going to spend your life with someone you want to be able to have a giggle with them!  My parents have a very similar sense of humour and a real sense of silliness and there is always a lot of laughter when we’re all together.  I think Mamie’s advice will be passed on Nerys –  “choose a man who makes you laugh”.

 

Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith

Before my parents were married my dad lived and worked in Germany for a while.  In fact, he was living there in the run up to the wedding, meaning that the first time my parents saw each other for some time was when they were at the alter ready to say their vows.

Bear in mind, this was before the time of video calls and skype and Facebook!  It was a bit of a leap of faith to commit to being married having spent so much time living away from each other.  But thank God they leapt!

Nothing in life and love is guaranteed, but sometimes taking that leap into the unknown is the best possible thing to do.

 

Make time for each other

It can be so easy, once you’re in an established relationship, to stop really spending time together.  Especially when there’s work and children also in the mix.  I’m very aware that I don’t spend enough quality time with my husband, just the two of us.  Especially at the moment, when I’m still up throughout the night with Nerys, I’m so tired in the evenings that I often head to bed pretty early.  And our weekends are spent as a family or with me trying to catch up on sleep!

My parents, on the other hand, have always known how important it is to spend time just as a couple.  Even when we were little and money was tight, they would go out and share half a pint at the pub, just to have time to be a couple.  This is definitely something I need to make more of a priority.

 

But also have time to just be you

On the flip side, my parents have shown me how important it is to also have time away from each other, to do things that you enjoy that they might not be so interested in!  They do a lot together but also have their own time and interests away from each other.  Like on a Sunday, my mum will go to church and my dad will go and spend time on his allotment.

What my parents have taught me about love and marriage

I’m sure there must be lots more that they’ve taught me about love and marriage: maybe I’ll do a follow up post with another set of things I’ve learnt from them.

Maybe the most important thing to take away from this is that my parents aren’t perfect, and of course they bicker and wind each other up and I’m sure they’ve been through their struggles, but all the positives have always completely outweighed all of that.  What’s that saying about love conquering all?!  I do believe that’s true sometimes.

So, thank you Mummy and Daddy, for showing me what love and marriage is all about, for giving me something to strive for and for showing that, despite all the statistics about failed marriages, there is hope that they can last and last!

It's the little things in love that matter

It’s the little things that matter in love

When you’re in a relationship, do you tend to think it’s the little things or the big, grand gestures that mean the most?
The ‘Enduring love’ research project has been looking into this question and the results show that, in long-term relationships, it’s the little things that we do for our partners day to day and week by week that matter the most.
It's the little things that matter in love
Picture

 

This has made me think about the little things I can do to show my husband how much he means to me.

The first thing that comes to mind is to make sure I compliment him when I think he looks good.  I’m so guilty of thinking he looks nice but not actually saying it!

 

Having searched the internet for inspiration, here’s my list of other little things that might really make a difference in how happy and content you both are day to day in your relationship:

 

  • Pay attention to the things your partner does for you, and make sure you say thank you for it
  • Give your partner genuine compliments
  • Say nice things about them to other people
  • Talk positively about them to your children
  • Leave them the last chocolate
  • Make them a cup of tea or coffee in the morning
  • Bring them a cup of tea or breakfast in bed at the weekend
  • Get up with the kids so they can have a lie in
  • Do their least favourite job around the house for them
  • Write them love notes (or love texts/emails)
  • Run them a bath after work
  • Take the kids out for a few hours so they can have some peace
  • Send a text or call them for no reason other than to let them know you’re thinking of them
  • Bring them little gifts
  • Tell them you love them
  • Bring them flowers

 

The research seems to show that all these little things done day to day add up to mean so much more than a grand gesture once a year.  They’re constant reminders that we are loved and appreciated and that our partners think about us and care about our happiness.

If you want to really make sure that the little things you’re doing are making your partner feel loved then you can check what love language they speak and go out of your way to do things in the way that speaks their language.

I know that I really appreciate it when I get up in the morning to find that my husband has cleaned up the night before, and when he comes home from work with a bar of chocolate for me it can really make my day!

What little things matter most to you in a relationship?