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Maintaining a life after children

Something Nat and I are often asked about is how you can maintain a life after children. We’ve done many talks about it at The Parenting Place and other venues so I thought it about time we shared our 5 top tips for maintaining a life after children:

  1. Get your network sorted
    • They say it takes a village to raise a child and nowadays we don’t have the same support network as we used to i.e. People have travelled and are living away from family (e.g. I live on the other side of the world from my family). So – if you don’t have a village, create your own. Create a network of like-minded friends who are going through the same thing as you. Who you can laugh and cry together with and compare notes/ help each other out and support each other.
    • Grandparents – if you’ve got these nearby then you are so lucky. Grandparents want to be involved with their grandchildren. However, try not to take them for granted and to treat them like a glorified babysitting service. Appreciate the help and advice they can offer. Let them have time alone with your children without you hovering over them. Allow them to have a special activity they do with them on a regular basis e.g. haircuts with grandma/ afternoon tea and a walk with grandpa etc. Let them spoil them! Your children love it and so do they.
  2. Embrace Parenthood and your new life
    • I spent my first few months pretending nothing had changed and trying to keep up as I had always done, socialising with friends and popping into the office daily. I soon realised that not only was it not possible to hold on to my old life pre-child (I was exhausted and just barely keeping my head above water – plus really my work colleagues weren’t that interested in seeing my baby daily, strangely!) but I needed to accept that things had changed and I had a new role now. Once I accepted that things went much better and I was much happier.
    • Realise that you can no longer ‘pop’ anywhere for milk as it’ll take you 2hrs to get out the door and therefore make things easier for yourself by getting people who are coming to see you to bring you milk/ bread or leave everything packed and ready to go by the door so it’s much easier when you make the decision to go out.
    • Supermarket shopping with kids is a whole different world. Learn some key tips to cope: create the supermarket police, pretend there are fairies watching, don’t let them out the trolley and never succumb to the Wiggles car.
    • There’s no such thing as WonderMum – except I wonder how those other people do it. Let go of guilt and realise you can’t do everything. If you can do just one thing a day that’s cool.
    • Cherish the moments.
  3. Take Time out for YOU!
    • You end up putting yourself last all the time when you have kids (at the bottom of the heap after the dog!) – start putting yourself first – if you’re happy and healthy then the rest of the family is too. If you’re stressed up to the hilt and taking it out on everybody around then nobody’s happy.
    • Make yourself do one thing a day that floats your boat e.g. Lie down on the sofa and read, sit down with a cuppa and watch your fav programme, go for a run, whatever it might be – this is EXTREMELY crucial to a happy life for the family and cannot be underestimated.
    • Get outside – fresh air and exercise makes everything seem easier.
    • Be curious. Be present.
    • Reduce your To Do list – do you really HAVE to do that today??
    • Make an effort with your appearance – have a shower for gods sake!! – brush your hair, your teeth, put on some lippy. If you look good you’ll feel able to cope with anything.
  4. Keep the love alive
    • It’s so easy to let things go once you have children but it’s crucial to keep the love alive. You’re a team and you’re on the same side – act like it.
    • Keep eye-contact, stop what you’re doing when your partner comes home and focus on him and ask him about himself. Don’t just download about the shit time you’ve had at home.
    • Keep things sweet between the sheets – you might be exhausted and you might be still getting up during the night so find other ways to keep things sweet between the sheets e.g. Morning nookie, when the children go down for the daytime nap, put a movie on during the day (be indulgent), have a staycation, MAKE the time.
    • Have a love budget – put money aside each week or month which goes into a separate account which is for date nights/ couple time only. It can be used to pay the babysitter, to spend on a weekend away together, or even as simple as using it to go to the movies.
    • Communicate often. If you find it hard to talk, then write down how you feel in a letter and give it to your husband to read (or not!). As long as you can communicate openly in whatever way works for you both then you can keep the love strong.
  5. Create a calm home environment
    • Switch off the tv and the iPads especially at meal-times.
    • Reduce noise generally – in particular at the Witching hour (4.30-7pm). If you need to have noise then turn on some calming music or something. It makes everything seem calmer automatically.
    • Don’t let the toys take over the whole place – children come with so much stuff! Have special places/ cupboards for the toys.
    • Be organised
    • Become an early riser – it will make it so much easier for you to cope with the day ahead and you’ll be one step ahead of everyone!

Check out the full interview with Paul Henry here

Written by

Jacqui Lockington is a working mum. Jacqui works full-time for an advertising agency in New Zealand and juggles life at work with being mum to two young children, Jack and Sasha. Jacqui is married to John and has published her first book with co-author, Nat - If Only They'd Told Me. She does public speaking and regularly blogs and records podcasts. Jacqui trained in journalism in London and worked in radio, newspapers, public relations and advertising before moving to New Zealand where she currently lives with her family. You can contact Jacqui at Jacqui@ifonlytheydtoldme.com