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Finding time for fun as a new parent

Tags: new parents, leisure time

When you become parents, it can feel like you’ll never be able to squeeze leisure time into your already-packed schedule.

But, shared leisure time is one of the cornerstones of a happy relationship and couples who consciously spend time together doing the things they both enjoy are more likely to have a happier and stronger relationship overall [1]. To learn how to maintain the feeling of shared fun that you had as a couple, read on.

Adjusting to parenthood

Despite the warnings from other parents about how little free time you’d have left for yourselves as parents, it can still be a shock to experience the change first-hand [2]. After the birth of a child, you’ll have less energy and less time to yourselves, so the thought of eking out some leisure time might feel like a distant dream that will have to wait until the children leave home.

The time you used to spend together as a couple will make way for time spent taking care of the baby. Instead of going for long walks, or exploring museums, or even watching a bit of TV together, you’ll be feeding, bathing, and comforting your child instead. Here’s the good news: any time you spend together with the baby can act as an effective replacement for the leisure time you used to have together [1].

Make a commitment to be positive about the experience of childcare, and these precious moments you spend as a family can give your relationship the same benefits as the activities you no longer have time for [1]. You may even enjoy it!

Once you’ve settled into your new roles, things will begin to balance out again, particularly when you’re back at work and starting to get a sense of things being ‘normal’ again. You’ll find you can make little windows for leisure time and it will feel easier to leave the baby with someone else for an evening while you go out and have some time for yourselves as a couple [2].

Things will get easier

If you’ve always been very good at having fun as a couple, you’re more likely to be better at maintaining it in parenthood. Be aware, however, that the more leisure time you’re used to having together, the more dramatically you will notice the change at first. Going from lots of leisure time to hardly any is a much bigger change and you’re likely to feel it more profoundly.

Despite the initial shock, you are also more likely to be resilient enough to get through the tougher times [2]. So, if the impact of parenthood seems to make a hefty dent in your leisure time, take some comfort from the idea that you will be tough enough to bounce back.

Make a conscious decision to enjoy your time together with the baby, and see this as your new leisure activity. With a bit of time, you will settle more comfortably into your new routines.

References

[1] Craig, L., & Brown, J. (2014). Weekend Work and Leisure Time With Family and Friends: Who Misses Out? Journal of Marriage and Family, 76(4), 710-727.

[2] Claxton, A., & Perry-Jenkins, M. (2008). No Fun Anymore: Leisure and Marital Quality across the Transition to Parenthood. Journal of Marriage and Family, 70(1), 28-43.

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