A healthy romantic relationship between you and your partner, may be one of the most important factors in your children’s growth and happiness. Duh, you might be thinking. But really, how much time do you make for your relationship? How much time is devoted to fostering connection, romance and eroticism? Do you prioritize dates, romantic weekends, childless vacations, and overall time together? How do you keep the spark alive?
We all want to put our children first. And part of the baptism-by-fire of becoming a parent is learning that it’s time to change and shift your priorities, from being singularly focused, to being focused on raising a growing human and fostering a family. But all too often we translate this new role into the false belief that we are not permitted to take time for ourselves and often we put our children first even to the detriment of our partnerships.
It’s a natural thing to do. Children are demanding and take much planning and constant thought. But they will thrive when we thrive. One way that we can be great parents, is by making space and time for our romantic relationships to thrive. No one benefits from strife or distance between parents, especially children.
As a parent and an Authentic Tantra Educator, one of my most rewarding tasks is to help parents adjust their busy lives to include time for connection and time for sex. I find that the parents who are the most successful start small and schedule time in to keep the spark alive.
There are two main components to making time for your relationship and your sex-life in order to keep the spark alive. The first is making time for self-care, and the second is focusing on connecting with your partner.
In my Tantra practice, self-care, or connection to the self is always the first thing I establish with my students. When they are able to establish a strong connection to the self and their sensual awareness, they lay the foundation for healthy, harmonious interactions with other people and with the world at large.
You won’t have anything to give your mate if you don’t take some time to recharge. However, me-time while parenting is very different from me-time as a childless person. You may need to coordinate with your spouse to get some time to yourself, and you may need to be willing to work with your partner so they get some me-time as well. It’s important to act reciprocally, because the relationship will not thrive unless both parties are well cared for.
Once you finally carve out alone-time in your schedule, the next question becomes: what can I do to take care of myself? As a parent, self-care can be difficult. Since it may be challenging to gain physical distance from your children, it’s good to establish self-care habits that fit easily into your family life. Long trips to far-off cities, or epic hikes up mountaintops are out of reach for many parents.
It’s amazing how cathartic a moment in your own mind can be. Take a break from parenting, close the door to a quiet place, and write down everything that comes to mind. Journaling can be whatever you make it. You can simply recount the day, write down your thoughts in stream-of-consciousness, make up stories, write a poem, make lists of your hopes and dreams or write or draw whatever your heart desires.
What’s important about journaling is that you allow it to be a time for you to be with you. If you arrive to the page with preconceived notions about how you should write, or if you write with your mind on someone one day reading it, you won’t get the space you need to relax, recharge or purge.
This is one of my favorite ways to recharge and I often recommend it to clients who struggle to find time for themselves at home. I set off for a slow and gentle walk through my neighborhood with no preconceived notions about where I am going or what I want to see. I simply walk and observe the world as I encounter it.
There are many benefits to regular solo-walks. First, if you arrange to take a walk alone it is very unlikely that you will be disturbed by your children, giving you a moment of true uninterrupted time to yourself. Second, walking is a wonderful way to cultivate mindfulness. I live in a city, so I love to walk and to explore all the small and usual details that make up my neighborhood. Bizarre door-knockers, alleyways covered in grass and flowers, and beautiful old trees to name a few. Lastly, walking exposes you to the many restorative benefits of a little bit of sunshine and fresh air.
In my blogs, I often recommend taking a bath as an integral part of self-care and sensual-care because they are SO GOOD. Not surprisingly, this is a great way for a parent to relax without having to leave the house. Ask your partner to take care of the kids and make sure everyone has used the toilet, and then put on some relaxing music, light some candles, lock the door and enjoy a hot relaxing bath. But whatever you do, make sure your kids are taken care of and then lock everybody out. Don’t feel bad, you need some me-time, and you know the moment you close the door they will try to find you.
Allow yourself to begin enjoying life’s little pleasures. Often, parents are so focused on the timeline of day-to-day tasks, they forget to look up and simply experience the joys that are around them. In the noise of, “What has to happen now? What happens next? What will happen in the future?” you may forget to actually enjoy the moment you are experiencing. Slow down and start using your senses to begin to bring more awareness to your pleasure. Really taste the food you are chewing, take an extra moment to smell delicious scents, look up at the sky and feel the wind on your face. Often awareness is the first step to experiencing more pleasure.
Can you think of other activities for your solo-time? I invite you to practice taking some time for yourself this week and to see how it feels. Are you more relaxed? Has your mood improved? How is your relationship with your partner? Are you gentler with one another?
Check your inbox next Saturday for Part Two of “Parents, Keep the Spark Alive” where we will talk about effective ways to regularly foster connection and eros with your partner. See you next week!
Alaina Salks is the Co-Founder & Director of The Institute of Authentic Tantra Education.
*The Tantra Mastery Training Program does not require approval by the registrar of the private Training Institute Branch (PTIB). As such, the registrar did not review this program.