living: columns

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When do people with two children find time to have sex?
Ask the people with 3 children!  Seriously, most of us know it’s not as easy as it used to be.  A quick poll of playground moms confirmed the following:  1. Anticipation is foreplay—if you know you are going to try to make love later in the day, it helps.  2.  Know your children’s sleep pattern—a good sleep schedule is freeing in many ways, and this is a good example.  Making love after the kids go to sleep but before dinner ensures that you aren’t exhausted and builds an appetite. 3.  While your kids are still napping, you can have weekend afternoon sex—again, right after they go to sleep, in case the nap is shorter than usual.  4.  By now we’ve all heard that “sleep begets sleep”.  I’ll add that sex begets sex.
 
Sometimes I think my spouse causes me more angst than my child—is this normal, or are my expectations unreasonable?
My friend’s husband readily admits that his wife takes care of three boys—and they only have two children.  Parenting is the hardest thing we can do, and balancing your children and your spouse can be a challenge. Reasonable expectations help.  In our house there are certain things we each do— my husband takes out the garbage, I run the dishwasher.  (Sometimes he runs the dishwasher for me, but I don’t expect it.) When we’re dealing with the kids, it’s harder.  At first, when we left the house as a family we found ourselves saying Didn’t you pack the diapers? or  They have nothing to drink?  Now, we have a posted list on the inside of a closet door with the things for which we are each responsible.  There’s just too much to deal with all at once—a checklist is very helpful.
 
The easier life is logistically, the easier your emotional relationship.  We remind ourselves that we chose each other, on purpose.  Those quirks of personality that were so cute before are not as cute when you have kids and are trying to get a zillion things accomplished.  Staying connected with each other and maximizing what each of you is best at will ensure success.

We are listing our apartment and are going to need to keep it extra neat for our agent to show, especially when he gets a last minute appointment.  Can we do this without going crazy or making our kids crazy?
Getting your kids involved will help tremendously.  Before you keep it neat, you have to get it neat, and this is a great time to talk about donations and hand-me-downs.  Your first step is to designate boxes for different causes:  give away to friends; give away to charity; put out for people to take (in the basement, perhaps).  When your child or children has half an hour, talk about that when you have toys you don’t play with anymore, someone else gets the chance to play with them.  In terms of hand-me-downs, I usually make those decisions and show my children as I pack the bag, “Now Eleanor can wear this dress!”
 
Once you are open-house ready, your child can have a few specific tasks.  Toy boxes/ baskets with tops can be filled, books can be shelved.  Keep it simple so kids feel successful.
 
And as my friend Ceci said, clearing your house  reminds us: we have a lot of things we don’t use; we certainly don’t need to buy much more; and 15 minutes of cleaning a day is worth it so big messes can’t pile up.
 
Clean with your kids: I have a playlist for clean-up time—fun, bouncing songs that last about 10 minutes—we put it on, loud, and straighten up, as a family.  On the days we don’t, when I am changing the girls into pajamas, I hear my husband in the living room straightening up— this is definitely faster than clearing with kids, but doesn’t model the behavior.
 
So we are moving, how do we talk about it?
Kids always know when something big is happening, so include it in your conversation.
 
Bring your child to the new apartment as much as you can.  Take photos of both places, new and current, and make a book: Lily’s Book About Moving, perhaps.  Talk about the place you are moving to as being a new, different apartment the right choice for your family now—  rather than old, or smaller, or bigger-- and focus on the experience of the change.
 
Inherent in those other words are judgements, and kids will visit friends and family in many apartments that are smaller, bigger, darker, have one bathroom, etc.  You will help them understand that people live in different apartments, and they will make their own judgments as they age.
 
My daughter was just three and a half when we returned from a playdate at an apartment exactly 3 times larger than the one we live in.  We got home, took off our coats, and looked at me.  “Mama, Duncan’s house is bigger than ours, (longish pause) but ours is cuter.”  Fleetingly I thought that one day she could be a realtor, as she already had the nuance of language on her side.  Out loud I said, “Duncan’s apartment is bigger than ours, but ours is cuter.”  And that was the last time it’s come up.
 


 

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