The most daunting feeling of all is that when you are driving away from your baby and your husband is sitting next to you.
Up until 7 weeks we had taken it in turns popping out to the shops and leaving Jaxon in the care of the other. We did this for 2 main reasons. The first was that we wanted to allow Alan to get familiar with looking after Jax on a 100% basis.
I wanted him to learn how to cope when I was not there for him to turn to when Jax became unsettled. He had to learn hunger and tired cues for himself and learn how to deal with these without me stepping in and showing or telling him what to do.
The second reason was that I needed a break! I would go out and do the grocery shopping weekly (like I had always done) and treat myself to a massage for my efforts #selfcare
I would always come home to 1 of 2 scenarios.
- The first was Jax fed and asleep in his bouncer and Alan napping on the couch next to him.
- The second was chaos.
Even with a dirty nappy, crying Jax and frazzled Alan it was OK because he was Jaxon’s dad so I instantly forgave him for not putting socks on him or not knowing that his milk wasn’t warm enough.
When we got invited last minute to one of Alan’s colleague’s weddings, Alan called me for the go ahead,
“Of course, we will go! What it’s this weekend? We’ll get your mum to watch Jax no problems.”
This was my response without any further thought about it except what the heck I was going to wear?!
This was to be our first proper date night since Jax was born. We had not both been away from him together and this is how it went down.
But what will I wear?!
7 weeks postpartum is not a kind time for a woman’s body. Not wanting to send myself into an emotional breakdown in a lady’s fitting room I decided to wear something that I already owned. Afterall, I did not know anyone at this wedding so it really didn’t matter! I pulled out several items I thought might suit and I was very fortunate to find something that still fit, just. Add a bit of spandex and we were in business!
Milk Stash for Mother-in-Law
I found out about this function 3 days before the fact so I went into milk stash mayhem. At the time Jax was breastfeeding but we would give him a bottle of breastmilk before bed (I don’t produce much in the evenings and this is the only way to get him to sleep a decent night). He would take 100ml if feeding from a bottle.
I was lucky I had about 200mls in the freezer ready to go so I only had to pump another 600mls as the wedding was scheduled from 3pm-11pm. I pumped 3 times a day in between feeds for the next three days and another time right before we left to go to the wedding so there was enough for the time we were away as well as his normal night time bottle each of the three days.
This took a toll of me getting anything done around the house in those three days as all I was focusing on was pumping and washing pump parts and bottles!
I have learnt from this and make sure that I have a day’s worth of milk in the freezer at any given moment.
What About Our Routine?!
I asked my mother-in-law to come extra early so we could go over the night time routine. We are very fortunate that Kathrine works in the mother-baby-unit at the local hospital so she is quite cluey about babies. In fact, she helped us out on a few occasions in the first few weeks when we were still learning how to navigate our little Jax.
That being said I had to come to terms with the fact that she would likely do things her way to an extent. I had to be comfortable with this if I ever had a hope of having Jax in childcare or even still, ever dating my husband again.
The frazzle of getting ready, putting make up on for the first time since I quit around week 20 of my pregnancy, squeezing into aforementioned spandex and trying to keep Jax settled at the same time meant that emotions were running high that arvo! I inadvertently caused an argument with Alan and only later realized it was because my anxiety about leaving Jax was kicking in.
We got Alan’s mum to take our photo before leaving and looking back the look of uncertainty and sheer stress on our faces is telling.
Once we were in the car we both took a deep breath and pulled out of the driveway.
The longer we drove for the more my heart strings stretched and I teared up, I couldn’t help it. Alan just put his hand on mine and reassured me that Jax was in safe hands and we were only going to be a 30 minute drive away.
This reassurance dried my tears but it didn’t stop me from thinking about how guilty I was feeling for getting all dressed up and looking forward to a glass of champagne.
At the wedding we made conversation with several people who were stunned by our appearance given the fact that Jax was so young. This just reinforced that deep seeded mum guilt that was burrowing its way in my chest.
The only thing that was keeping me from ringing the siren and rushing home to my baby was the constant updates and photos that my mother-in-law was sending me.
Although as soon as she sent me the message that he had slept for 4 hours I started to get angsty as this probably meant his routine of 8hr night time sleep was out the window and how would I correct this and how long will it take?!?!?! I lasted another hour at the event before it was time to call it a night.
The wedding ceremony was truly beautiful. A lovely garden wedding on a ranch in the Eastern outskirts of Melbourne. What I didn’t account for was the powerful physical mother instinct I had!
The adorable flower-girl and ring-bearer hobbled down the isle – they were about 2 and 3 years old – and there it was, a twinge and then a sharp pain, in my breasts! I smiled and prayed that my nursing pads would last.
After the ceremony we got Alan a beer and popped back to the car where I sat in the backseat and used my Haakaa to pump both breasts. Walking back to the venue with breast milk in my handbag was quite novel. Its like I had this little secret. Unfortunately the weather was too warm and I had to dump the spoiled milk.
Note: I highly recommend you invest in a Haakaa – It’s the BEST breastfeeding tool you will ever buy – cheap too hooray!
The rest of the night I didn’t get a chance to pump as it was a jam packed night of sit down dinner, cake cutting, speeches and dancing. In fact I almost forgot about it until my boobs started to get super firm. By that point there was only another hour left so I decided to wait until I got home.
I got home and my letdown could have pressure-washed a car – 200mls pumped in a total of 10 minutes. Full of nutrients… and champagne, it killed me to dump it.
The drive home was great, we pumped some old school tunes like we used to and had a sing along. The mood was much better I think because we were on our way back to Jax, and the champagne was making me forget my troubles for a moment. When did I become such a cheap drunk, I guess 11 months of sobriety will do that to a gal.
We even had a nice pash in the car before entering the house *butterflies*
When we got inside Jax had just gone down to sleep – 2hrs later than he should have – but as soon as we entered the house he woke up.
I wasn’t even mad! I was actually so happy that he was awake because it meant I got to give him a cuddle and put him to sleep. Alan gave him a cuddle first while I washed my make-up off and he later admitted that he was really glad he got to do that.
We both reflected that we were really grateful that this event had come up and caught us off guard. If we had had time to really consider the invitation we likely would not have gone. Who knows how long it could have been before we bit the bullet and left Jax in the care of someone else?
That night Jax slept 9hrs and it didn’t affect his routine in the subsequent days. It was the beginning of getting our date nights back yay!
We are in the middle of planning our next baby-free date night which in itself is a bonding session for us.
Below are some ideas we have come up with so far, with and without baby arranged by type.
I think it is important to note that a ‘date’ does not need to be the two of you sitting at a table having a meal and talking about your hopes and dreams. You probably did enough of that before baby?
It is important to strip the idea of dating and scale it back to what it really means to you. Is it defined as baby-free time? Does it have to end in sex? Do you have to feel wooed for it to count? Find what you value in time together and focus on that.
For Alan and I it means as doing an activity together and getting to know each other that little bit better.
Whether it is learning about each other’s abilities and skills or just hanging out and talking about everything and nothing.
For us it is quality time and labeling it a date just makes us feel a little normal and like we have our stuff together.
So here is our list of dates that we are looking forward to.
40+ Date Ideas
With and Without Baby
- Drive in – the best part about this date is that you have the flexibility to get up and walk around with baby, change nappies in the boot and breastfeed with tinted windows or a cover without anyone complaining. Its also lovely to have cuddles with bubs while you eat your popcorn.
- Toasted sandwiches and Netflix – when you don’t quite get the chance to change out of your track-pants but you want to spend some quality time with hubby. You can also pause the movie when bubs wakes so you don’t miss anything!
- Gold class – because you deserve to recline and munch on some gourmet snacks once I a while. Dress up and make the most of it.
- Candle lit take out – set the table and make a point to transfer your Singapore noodles onto a plate, instead of munching it out of the box.
- Cook a fancy meal together – great way to learn a new recipe together and maybe or maybe not stuff it up.
- Homemade pizza night – easier than fancy-shmancy and you can pat yourself on the back for your DIY. (hot tip: 2 cups self-raising flour and 1 cup Greek yogurt = easy, quick, cheap, tasty pizza dough!)
- Your favourite restaurant – hanging for that Korean BBQ? Or maybe just your hanging for a short stack from Pancake Parlour? Get someone to watch bubs for a couple hours so you can go and satisfy your cravings without interruption.
- Local café – most cafes have enough space for baby to stay in their pram while you sip your latte or devour your club sandwich.
- Picnic – tack this onto a nice stroll to your local park and lay out a blanket on the grass for some tummy time and snacks.
- Breakfast in bed – bubs at Nanny’s for the weekend? Savour the mornings not only with a delightful sleep in but take turns making each other breakfast in bed each time. Hang out in bed all day if you want to!
- Walk a local trail – this ties in with the picnic idea as well. Or you can find a trail with a café at the end OR do a round trip home. Time in nature and fresh air is great for baby’s immune system.
- Go bowling – take turns holding baby
- Ice skating – probably wait until baby has a sitter to do this one. Unless you are a pro figure skater and can balance with bubs on board.
- Try a new recipe at home – it doesn’t have to be complicated. Our favourite thing to do is scroll through Pinterest and find new dishes we haven’t tried before to cook at home.
- Take a cooking class – maybe you aren’t as savvy in the kitchen as others and need some guidance. It will also stop any future excuses from hubby that he doesn’t know how to cook!
- Learn a new language – you can do this with an audio book while baby sleeps, add a few glasses of wine to take it to another level (responsibly of course)
- Do a DIY project – put together furniture or a new swing set, pop baby in the shade and build a vege patch; reward yourself with pizza and ice-cream afterwards.
- Take dancing lessons – remember when you did dancing lessons before you got married? How close you had to get? How fit you got? Try a Latin or Hiphop class for a little spice.
- Karaoke in the lounge room – who doesn’t love belting out bangers? If your baby is older you can get them involved for a dance party in the lounge room.
- Opera theater – because sometimes its nice to put on some clean clothes and pretend you don’t play with play dough and crayons all day.
- Play date with another couple with kids its nice to be able to connect with people who are on the same journey as you are and who will not roll their eyes every-time you want to show off photos of the kiddies. The kids can play while you have some adult time too, set up a kids table for their own mini dinner party.
- Double date with friends without kids remember that once upon a time you were a fun carefree adult who knew how to hold a conversation that wasn’t centered around your kids? Find that person and flaunt it.
- Ebayathon – buy each other something from each other’s watched item list – don’t tell them what – when it arrives it’s a surprise! This can easily be done when baby’s gone to bed. Who doesn’t love a little retail therapy?
- Night market – go for a stroll get some fresh warm donuts and have a browse. Double points for hand-holding.
- Take turns having a nice bubble bath while the other looks after baby; then pop baby in bed and give each other a nice massage
- Beauty treatments while watching Netflix – think face mask, foot spa mani-pedi.
- Couple’s massage or spa day – you both deserve it!
- Water theme park – take turns holding baby for the bigger rides. Find a park that has a kiddie pool so bubs can cool off too.
- Beach – bring a big umbrella and camp out on the sand in the shade. The sound of the ocean will put baby to sleep.
- Swimming with dolphins – if you haven’t had a chance to tick this off the cradle list then definitely move it to your bucket list and tick it off!
- Snorkeling – again, something that is so special.
- Playstation showdown – pop bubs in the bouncer and let him watch you school your partner at street fighter.
- Board game – whether its Monopoly or Cards Against Humanity this is a fun Sunday afternoon activity.
- Strip poker – baby gets an early night and… everyone wins!
- Mini golf – get out and get some fresh air. It doesn’t matter who wins if you are spending quality time together.
- Laser tag – this will work up a sweat for sure and loser buys lunch!
- Farm – there are farms that have really awesome baby animal nurseries. Wait until bubs is big enough to enjoy this one.
- Zoo – find out when the animal shows are on at the zoo as this is a great way for everyone to get a good look at the animals not behind glass.
- Whale watching – book a day cruise and be in awe of these majestic mammals.
- Fishing – a few hours on a tinnie or on a pier with your loved one. If you don’t catch anything stop for fish and chips on the way home.
- Go through photo albums and reminisce – remember when you used to go to your regular spots and grind on the dance floor until 5am? Ahh, those were the days!
- Drive through old suburbs you used to live in – nothing makes you appreciate where you are like going back to where you came from. The drive will put baby to sleep which is a bonus!
- Reenact your first date.
I’d love to hear what you think of these ideas! Do you have any others? We are always looking for new ‘mini-adventures’ as we like to call them.
Are you and your partner dreading leaving your baby in the care of someone other than each other for the first time?
Or maybe you are looking forward to some one on one time without your bubs?
Either way I would love to hear from you in the comments below.
Don’t forget to pin the below info-graphic for later!