Let’s face it, marriage is hard work. Adding co-parenting the mix adds an entirely new dynamic. In the baby stage, we had to learn to make time for our marriage. Since then we’ve done a good job of making time for each other by prioritizing date nights and scheduling intentional family time every single week.
Our next step was focusing on communication. As two working parents, we can sometimes feel like ships passing in the night. Communicating effectively allows us to run a tight ship. It allows us to support each other better to be successful individuals and to be successful as a family. And, most importantly, it allows us to show each other we care about each other! Here are a few areas we focused on over the past year that have helped us to feel more supported and loved.
Manage Our Family Calendar
At least for us, half of co-parenting is managing the logistics together. The other half is getting on the same page with ideology, which we typically agree on. The logistical aspect was where we struggled.
Early last year, we started using a shared family calendar and to-do list. And it’s helped so much! Before kids, I was the keeper of the calendar. I would write everything in my planner and we also had a monthly wipe-board calendar on our fridge. That worked well unless Rich wasn’t home, which led to him calling me all the time to ask if we had plans on a specific date.
Then the logistics of managing two work schedules, daycare drop offs, doctor’s appointments, birthday parties and all of the other things that come along with managing life as two working parents came along. Our old system just wasn’t working and we had to split the responsibility. And now that we’re settled into this, it works well for us! I’ll be honest that I’m naturally the organized one in our family so I keep the ship running, but having an open line of communication is key.
Set Realistic Expectations
A system only goes so far. If you have unrealistic expectations, it won’t work. When it came to our shared to-do list, we had to start talking about things and set realistic goals on when things would get done. The general rule is, once it’s on the list the other person has to let it go.
Admittedly, this is hard for me. I’m someone who likes to get stuff done, almost to a fault. Rich is someone who is overly thoughtful about things, endlessly researching and thinking things through before taking action. This is something that took me nine years to learn and five years of marriage to finally accept. So these days, once I ask something, I try my best to let it go. And once it’s past the deadline we agreed to, then it’s fair game to bring up. But only then!
Speak Each Other’s Love Language
The 5 Love Languages is widely popular for a reason, it’s a simple way to understand your partner better. It had been awhile since we took the quiz and recently we re-took it. Lo and behold, our love languages had changed slightly since becoming parents! If you have never taken the quiz or it’s been awhile, it’s something worth spending a few minutes on.
Since both of us have “Words of Affirmation” as one of our love languages, talking is key. We try to make time every day after B goes to bed to eat dinner together and chat about our day. We also try to write in our “Q&A a Day” Journal every night before bed. It’s a one line a day journal with a quick question prompt that sometimes sparks a longer conversation. This is our third year of the journal and it’s been fun to look back at the previous years’ answers. Especially since we started it right after becoming parents!
As always, this is what works for us and it might not work for you. I share our experiences in hopes that others may relate.