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June 24, 2016 // WorkLife Wisdom: Life Before Kids: Investing in Your Relationship

There were no pressures and you did what you wanted — just you and your partner.

At issue here is investing in the parental relationship. When parents don’t take time for themselves, they increase their risk of drifting apart, which in turn can undermine their relationship — something that is definitely not in the kids’ best interests.

Parental bonds need to be as strong and secure as parent-child bonds. When parents keep the spark in their relationship, they can provide a great model to their children of how parents can get along. Investing in the parental relationship also sets a boundary between parents and children. Children see their parents as a unit that are less likely to be divided and conquered because they are close, loving, and caring.

Enter the children and you’re juggling schedules, have competing demands for time, no privacy, and relationships stretched to the limit. Many parents forget that in order to give to their kids, they must give to each other as well. When parents do give to each other, it is as if they are recharging their batteries so that they then have more energy to give to their children.

The challenge for some couples is the belief that they either cannot find the time or someone to rely on for the care of the kids while they have their time together.

Time, being an elusive commodity, must be scheduled. Just as the kids’ activities are scheduled and occur without interruption, so too must time for the parents. When parental time is held as sacred as the time for the kids’ activities, then time for parents is more likely to occur. For many parents the thought of taking time may even be overwhelming. So if this is how it feels, parents are advised to start slowly, maybe scheduling their time together at least once per month to start.

If babysitting is a concern, parents can consider grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, a responsible teenager, and even a friend.

At times, parents can get creative about finding moments for each other. Rather than weekends or evenings, perhaps there is time for breakfast out or even lunch while the kids are in school.

If money is an issue, parents can consider activities such as bike riding or going for a walk together.

Make sure you top up the battery in the parental relationship so as the children draw on your energy, you have something to give and a way to recharge again.

For additional assistance please contact your WorkLife Solutions program toll free at 1-800-234-1327, TTY Users: 1-800-456-4006 or visit magellanHealth.com/member using the toll free number to enter the website.