Parenting is the most wonderful adventure most of the time, but with the gaining of pride and joy, we lose one important thing – our privacy. Sometimes, this happens so slowly, we do not notice we got from giving up just some privacy to where we have very little of it left.
When I had my first child, I gave privacy up easily. Gal and I both wanted to spend all our time with Eden, but when she was 11 months old, we realized we did not really have a life and we could not blame anyone but ourselves. Every spare minute we had, we wanted to be with Eden, so she went to sleep at the same time we went to sleep. All our conversations were about her. At night, when we looked for a moment we could enjoy some privacy, I remember giggling and shushing each other, waiting for her to fall asleep, but by the time she was sound asleep, so were we…
When you have kids, privacy is not what it used to be anymore. Suddenly, intimate time is so rare and precious there is not a lot of opportunities to be spontaneous. Suddenly, you have to plan your private time together as a couple and the more time goes by, the more kids you have and the older they get, the harder it gets to find a private time to enjoy and love each other.
Luckily for us, we woke up when Eden was just 11 months old. We realized we needed to plan our time together if we wanted to enjoy each other’s company. We sat and thought of some things that would help us “keep the fire burning” between us and how to manage the loss of privacy that comes together with the joy of having kids. I recommend that every couple do these things, regardless of the age of their children. One important thing kids need is parents who stay together, so invest in your togetherness for the sake of your children too.
Kids in parents’ bed
First, pay attention to things that slowly steal your privacy, like having the kids’ bed in your room or sleeping with your baby in your bed. Some babies are sensitive to noises and when you compromise your intimacy to make sure your baby does not wake up, there is always the risk it will get worse. I am sure you can find a compromise, especially while breastfeeding at night (it is no fun getting up in the middle of the night and going to another room to breastfeed, especially when it is cold).
We decided our kids would always sleep in their own bed and that their bed would be in our room for 3 months and that’s it. After that, they slept in their own room.
When they could get up and come to our bed at night, we always took them back to their own bed, unless it was just before we got up.
Behind closed doors
Every parent worries their children might walk into their room in the middle of having some good grownup fun. Worrying about it can destroy the enjoyment. The simplest thing to do is have a lock on your door and use it. A lock can help so much as you close the door and you know that if your kids come in, it will not be in the middle of you huffing and puffing.
As I said, having kids does not leave much time for being spontaneous. Spending time together is very important. Gal and I decided 21 years ago (Eden is 22 now) that we would have a private weekly outing, just the two of us. Although we did not keep that religiously for 21 years, we have gone out almost every week (sometimes, we make up and go out twice).
In the first years, we lived in a small town with one cinema that showed the same movie for 3 weeks, so we went for a walk in the neighborhood – it was refreshing and wonderful. Generally, we go to the movies, we go to a cafe (I have hot chocolate and Gal drinks something herbal in the evenings or no sleep) or we meet with friends.
We believe this weekly outing has kept us going strong for many years. When we work hard, it is even more important to let go and do something for ourselves. I highly recommend that every couple have a date once a week to keep the interest in each other, break the routine and have some privacy.
One of the biggest complaints of couples is that they cannot just go out. “It is such a hassle”, they say.
Well, it does not have to be. If you live next to your parents or your in-laws, they will be happy to spend some time with their grandchildren. Make it a habit to send the kids for a weekend to their grandparents once a month. If you have both grandparents, that is great! If you have a brother or sister who lives close by, have their kids over sometimes and send your kids to them in return.
It is healthy for your children to be away from you (I would start when they are 1 year old). You can make a similar arrangement with friends and take care of each other’s kids. If you have 3-4 couples in this arrangement, then all the kids have a sleepover at one couple’s house while the rest go out and then swap. The kids will have fun, you will have fun and everyone will be happy.
If none of these work for you, have 2-3 babysitters on your list and you are good to go.
To lose the privacy, we have to give it up!
– Ronit Baras
Until Eden was 4½ years old, we lived very close to my parents and close enough to Gal’s parents. My sisters loved babysitting Eden and it was easy to go out once a week and send her to the grandparents for the weekend from time to time. Since then, we have been living away from our families and we used babysitters until Eden said she could take care of the kids on her own. It is not the end of the world and it is worth your relationship.
If you do not go on weekly dates, start with monthly dates and increase the frequency. With parenting, we do not really lose our intimacy, we slowly give it up, because it is hard to maintain it. Hard does not mean we need to give it up, it only means we have to work through it.
Next time, when you think you have lost your privacy, ask yourself where exactly you gave it up and go find it there.