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With a new baby comes a busier life – and less time to spend with your partner. It's normal for your relationship to play second fiddle to your new baby for at least the first year or so.
Many partners feel a little left out as their sweeties, now new mothers, get swept up in the care and needs of their baby. After some time, when life feels like it's settled into a routine, you'll find that you and your partner can forge a new kind of intimacy and closeness.
Here are a few suggestions for ways to get some special time together:
Strive for a real date night
Arrange for babysitting. If cost is an issue – or if you'd just feel more comfortable leaving your baby with someone you know – ask a family member or friend to take over for a few hours or look into starting a babysitting co-op.
And remember, it doesn't have to be a full-fledged night on the town: The goal is simply to get some time alone with each other. So take a walk, grab a bite, or go to the movies.
Make a date night at home
You don't need a sitter to really pay attention to each other. Once your baby has settled down for the night – or at least for a few hours – seize the moment. Resist collapsing on the couch and switching on the TV or slouching off to finish work. Sit together for some face-to-face time.
Focusing on each other for as little as 10 minutes can make a huge difference. All too often, new parents forget even to make eye contact with each other. By simply carving out some moments just to be together you'll feel more connected and in touch. (Chances are you'll start having more sex, too.)
You don't have to wait for the sun to go down to spend quality time with each other. For instance, you can commute to work together or grab lunch once a week. It's surprising how relaxing conversation can become when you're meeting in the middle of the day and there's no baby or chores to worry about.
Read your partner a love letter
Life with a newborn can make it seem like you and your sweetie are just ships passing in the night. What better way to slow down and reconnect than by telling your love how you feel. You don't have to pen Shakespearean prose to get your honey's heart pumping. Just jot down a few simple thoughts ("I love the way you hug me when I'm stressed out," or "Your laugh is infectious") and then share them out loud.
Buy season tickets
If you've already paid for seats to a concert, play, or sporting event, you'll feel committed to going. To cut the cost, split season tickets – and babysitting duties – with another couple with a baby.
Treat weekends like weekends
Pack the diaper bag, get out the stroller or a backpack, and enjoy a weekend activity as a family. Malls, parks, and outdoor events are all baby-friendly.
Create some post-work rituals
Take a walk together every evening with your baby. Everyone benefits from the exercise and fresh air, and you and your partner can reconnect.
Plan special routines
Start a weekly movie and take-out dinner night. Once your baby settles into a predictable sleeping pattern, life gets a lot easier – yet another great reason to work toward instituting a regular bedtime. Watching a movie together is an easy way to enjoy a little downtime in each other's company.
Games are a great way to laugh and have fun together, so dust off the backgammon set, deck of cards, or the Scrabble board. Or do the crossword or Sudoku puzzle together as you snuggle on the couch.
A final note: Make time for yourself, too
It's easy for new parents to get caught up in, well, being new parents, and forget to take time for themselves. But it's hard to give yourself entirely to someone else if you never have any time alone.
Make sure to carve out at least a few moments of "me time" each day to regroup – listen to your favorite playlist, take a walk around the block, or call a friend. Remember, a happy parent makes for a happier relationship and a happier baby.