Husband is back once more to answer a few more reader questions that you asked him, oh, back in early February. (In case you missed them, here are the previous three entries: thoughts on fatherhood, breastfeeding and work/life balance.)
What do you do to make sure you have time for you and Laura?? Do you have date nights and how often?
I wish the answer to this was that we have date nights once a week but, unfortunately, that's not true. We used to have date nights once a week because my sister would come over to spend time with Bella but she wasn't getting very much awake time with Bella so she started coming over during the day. Needless to say, our date nights went the way of Levi's acid washed jeans...
One nice thing that worked out for us-somewhat serendipitously-is that Bella goes to sleep between 6 and 7 every night. So, we get typically cook and eat together, as adults, every night and then we typically do one of a few things: get lost in our computers, if we're feeling anti-social; watch a movie or favorite TV show if we're feeling semi-social; or just chat/play board games, etc. if we're feeling social. It's pretty cool because we typically influence each other's mood. By this I mean, if one of us is feeling overly social and the other is not the more social one can sometimes get the other to feel more social, etc. Sometimes it works the other way, too but in all there's a pretty good balance and I'd say we have a pretty decent amount of time that we spend working on keeping our relationship a priority.
One thing we make sure to do-probably because Laura and I look for any excuse to get out of the cities-is take vacations. Personally, I'm a vacation whore...always have been. I take every day of vacation that I'm granted and the owner of our company is really good about encouraging this. For example, we took a few days this week to rent a cabin up north. I have to admit, I'm a pretty frugal guy but there's one thing that I have no problem spending money on (I still want to find good deals but I'm willing to spend the money when we find them) and that's time away. I think I got this from my parents. My Dad pushed the work envelope pretty hard and most of my fondest memories with my family are from our vacations.
Have you felt neglected since the baby came? I ask because I know I show my husband much less attention since our DD has been here!!
I do love attention but, no, I haven't felt neglected so far. I do see that sometimes Laura is just completely tapped out when I get home from work but it works out pretty well because I know I'm going to get time with her once Bella is asleep, whether it's that night or some other. It's really hard though because, if you're anything like us, we're still not to the point where we're able to easily leave Bella with a babysitter. I would definitely encourage finding creative ways to spend time together but I'm not sure I'm able to answer how you would go about doing that. Laura is really the expert on this one. One thing we've found is absolutely critical is making short day trips a part of our weekend routine. Laura may have already mentioned this but the public library has free passes to all kinds of museums, etc. I love it because it's free and we can save the money for a quick get-away vacation but it's great for everyone. It's purely mind/eye candy for the baby, so she's engaged but it gives us some time to get out of the house and hang out on the periphery and we really enjoy it. The other thing is planning for nap time. It's amazing how fast the hour goes so be prepared for it and see what you can do together in that short span of time. That's probably my best shot at that question. Sorry if it came up short.
What can I do to make sure I balance time for my DH and DD...
I'm no expert but I think you've already taken the most important step: realizing that this is important. I think a lot of people lose sight of this in their relationships. Kind of go into auto-pilot mode or something. It sounds like there's no way that's going to happen to you. In my mind, this whole parenting gig is honestly the best but definitely the most challenging thing I've ever embarked upon. I'm so fortunate to have Laura as my partner in taking this challenge on. We really seem to complement each others weaknesses, even as they ebb and flow with each day's particular challenges. There are days when either Laura or I just don't have it in us to game-face once Bella's gone to bed. We both get it and we communicate it right up front. We don't take it personally and that helps so much but we also don't allow ourselves to slip into this mode night after night. We have to push each other every now and then, even though one of us may be on a string of exhaustion. This is tricky because you want to give each other time and space to recover while staying vigilant for taking the easy way out and starting a bad habit. I think if I had the answer to this question I could make a lot of money selling books :) As we all figure it out we should let each other know what works and what doesn't because I definitely am scaling the learning curve on this one, too.