Having a child is one of the biggest gifts and commitments a person can make in their entire lives. If you are privileged enough to have a partner to do it with you, as time goes on you may realize that prioritizing your child can unintentionally override that relationship. While it’s incredibly understandable (the amount of stress and pressure that’s on you to ensure this little human’s survival is a lot,) it’s important that you maintain that relationship with your partner for both of your mental wellness. However, trying to juggle which days and times to pour your energy into both separately is an entirely different beast to handle in itself, so I thought why not make a list of ways you as a family can bond together. Finding little moments in your day where you all can just be intentional – whether it’s with your conversation, your meals, or whether you are walking or driving in a car, taking the time out of your day and dedicating it to being with your family and being fully present is actually a lot more fulfilling than you would think! I do want to say though that it is important to put some lovin and extra care into your relationship with your significant other because it is so so easy to put emotional support like that on the back burner – but that is a list for another time! Here is my simple, yet satisfying list!
- Take a family field trip every week
I know this sounds lame but hear me out! The absolute best thing about field trips back when we all were in elementary and middle school was being able to go someplace you would never have gone in your everyday life. You can still do that now! Go to that exhibit at the museum you’ve been eyeing for a while, try that popular ice cream shop you’ve seen all over Instagram that’s 20 minutes outside of town, go on that nature trail at the park that you have heard is so beautiful. It is such a simple act but it allows all of you to escape the confines of your daily routine and gives you the chance to freely explore, something I know for us as parents hasn’t even crossed our minds to do. If just for an hour or 2, take a mini field trip to do something simple and new, together.
- Take scheduled walks in the morning or evening
Savannah always takes naps in the morning between 9:00am-10:30am and usually the later it is, the harder it is getting her to sleep – same with the evenings. Taking a walk is something that is free of charge and can give you all a mental release. Mornings are my favorite time to do it because it gives us both a mental boost for the rest of the day and either puts Savannah in a great mood or it lulls her to sleep (I love me a sleeping baby!) We may trudge to the door at the scheduled time, not feeling like we really want to go on the walk, but we are always so happy we did it basically 10 minutes into the walk! If you get tired of your neighborhood or if you live in an area that’s pretty metropolitan, driving some place with a great trail is another wonderful idea! We like to go to Pioneers park or Holmes Lake on the days we want to go for a walk but want to get out of our neighborhood – sometimes just getting distance from the places you spend almost all of your time is all you need to reconnect to each other.
- Have a picnic
This you can do at home in your backyard or at an actual park! Again, so simple but just being intentional about where you eat lunch or dinner and who you eat it with goes a long way! Often times it’s just way easier to eat separate – one person may have a zoom meeting they are on and the other may have a quick moment to make something to eat for themselves while the kids are taking their nap or distracting themselves, but when this becomes a habit it’s just so easy to detach from each other in a lot of the little things. It doesn’t have to be fancy! Just make a couple sandwiches, some chips, water or your favorite pop (or if you’re staying home and feelin especially feisty, maybe a glass of rose) and just put an old blanket out on the ground and eat your lunch together! Savannah is so little that I imagine we would have her do some tummy time while Trev and I catch up and talk about things we want to do in the future. Since being forced to change my diet, I’ve become very intentional about all of my meals including where I eat! Trev is such a good sport and has humored me in that aspect, always cooking meals with me and eating with me, whereas he would be just as content making a quick meal and eating it in 5 minutes and then heading back to work! But he does admit that it has been enjoyable taking the time to chat and cook together. Next up, we’re going out back!
- Cook a dinner together
Pick something fun that neither of you have made before and divvy up the roles and make the meal together! Since Savannah is 5 months old, she is usually just in charge of keeping herself occupied which is a preeetty big job! But if you have older children or its just you and your partner, one person can get the ingredients together for the main dish while the other works on the sides? Keep the conversation light and maybe have your favorite music playing in the background – the idea is to just make something that is such a normal part of your day into a simple, yet enjoyable time with the people you love! Be intentional with this time – it doesn’t have to be every day! It could be every Tuesday night you make tacos, or every Friday you pick a county and make a fancy, popular dish to broaden your cultural horizons! Trev and I have a list of counties we want to visit (in order) so this is definitely something we would (and should) do!
- Go to a flower nursery or public garden
Stop to get some coffee or iced tea and go to your local public garden or flower nursery and just walk around and gaze at all of the flower! You might read this and be like OH MY GOODNESS HOW BORING but think about it! The smells and colors will grab any little humans’ attention and while it seems kind of boring and weird for the adults, it is actually incredibly soothing and it allows your mind to just wander! There is a reason why people fill their houses with plants and flowers – each plant has a unique way about them, from color to size to shape, no two plants are the same and each give off their own energies. You don’t have to use this time to chat and catch up, instead you all can just go out there when you need some time to be thoughtful and *wait for it* intentional! You all can just wander around, mulling over any stressors in your life or just being plain grateful for your life at that exact moment. Have a little impromptu photo shoot with your cell phones (as long as you aren’t in anyone’s way) or just walk around and silently take it all in. there is no right or wrong way to enjoy flowers and don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!
When we think of “bonding time,” whether you want to admit it or not, can sound pretty intimidating – and a little exhausting. It shouldn’t be! Our lives aren’t made up of grand gestures and bucket list vacations, rather they are made up of intentional, small moments that add up to something greater. Bonding time is just another one of those small moments that just add some mental wellness into the batch to help some of the most important relationships in your life flourish. Finding things to do together that is easily done is what bonding time should be about. These times are when you should be able to take the stress out of the situation and just go with the flow – regardless of how much money you have in your checking account! Don’t try to force it – if the conversation is lagging, just use the time to mentally relax. If everybody is a little grumpy even after the little field trip, play some calming or fun music in the car on the drive back. Just remember to be intentional during these moments and the rest will come easy!