Staying Connected Through the Toddler Years


Photo Caption: Creative young boy mimicking a t-rex dinosaur while standing in his play area at home. Imaginative little boy having fun during playtime.

I will never forget the feeling of holding our daughter for the first time. All the emotional pain of infertility and the physical pain of childbirth melted away when I looked at her sweet face. I let out a deep sigh of relief and locked eyes with my husband. We smiled at each other, and he put his hands over mine. We were about to embark on our greatest adventure yet: parenthood.

It wasn’t long before we realized that our old ways of connecting would have to change. The tranquil dinners where we shared about our days turned into a relay race of feeding and cleaning that little mouth. Car rides were spent playing “I Spy” instead of listening to our favorite music together. Nights were spent rocking and nursing instead of sleeping in each other’s arms. We began to make small shifts to adjust to our new constraints and discovered an even deeper love for one another. Here are some of the ways we have stayed connected through the newborn and toddler years:

Keep Creating Special Memories Together

When we had our daughter and date nights became sparse, I learned a life hack: Choose an ordinary activity you are already doing and make it special. For example, I know our daughter will go to bed and we will watch a TV show. I would pop some popcorn and make a fun drink to make it a little more special. Voila! An ordinary night was just given a little more pizazz. What is the goal of dating your spouse? To stay connected and enjoy each other. You don’t have to make a reservation at a fancy restaurant or plan ornate events that last all day. No babysitter? No problem!


Have a Weekly Check-In

Each week Chad and I would ask each other 4 questions:

  1. How did you feel most loved?
  2. What are you thankful for about me?
  3. What could I have done better?
  4. How’s your heart?

This simple check-in has kept us connected throughout the newborn and toddler years and has ensured that our lines of communication remain open through transitions.

Serve Each Other

One way to serve your spouse, especially in the toddler years, is by giving them the gift of time. I remember feeling like I could not leave our daughter or home because the to-do list was too long. Chad suggested I start taking a few hours to center myself each week. Tuesday evening became my time to write, schedule dinner with friends, or shop alone. Chad began to schedule biweekly guy’s nights to connect with his friends. This simple rhythm has kept us refreshed and allowed us to continue cultivating friendships and creative outlets.

These newborn and toddler years are flying by quickly. They require more sacrifice and bring more joy than we thought possible. Even though we will love our daughter for a lifetime, she is a temporary assignment. Our marriage is a lifelong project from God. Our goal is, just like in that delivery room, our eyes will find each other through each of life’s transitions, and we will know that we have stayed connected through it all.

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