In her exclusive blog for the iVillage blog series CelebVillage, actress and mom (to daughters Honor, 3, and 8-month-old Haven) Jessica Alba writes about how she keeps her marriage to husband Cash Warren ticking since becoming parents.
It’s hard to imagine what life is going to be like after your first baby, not to mention your second! Diapers are a certainty. Sleepless nights, coffee, and concealer (lots of it) are probably guaranteed too. Having time to see a movie or enjoy a glass of wine by yourself—let alone with your husband—before your kids head off to college? I know—it feels like an impossibility or a far-off dream. But I can assure you it’s not.
When I was pregnant with Honor, I was lucky that I could dispel some of these worries by turning to my mommy friends. We talked shop about all the baby stuff and parenting tricks they’d already learned after bringing home their little ones. During one of these chats, my girlfriend Kelly shared one life-changing word with me: “Schedule!” She had transitioned her babies to a consistent 7 p.m. bedtime, so she knew that she could have some grown-up time each night. And everyone, including her daughters, was happier for it.
Thankfully, her knowledge was my gain. Cash and I have also found that maintaining a family schedule is the key to making time for each other. Whether we’re settling into the couch to watch bad reality television or getting a babysitter so we can enjoy a date night out, we always know we have dedicated time after the girls are asleep to catch up, discuss what’s on our minds, and simply just be with each other (no cell phones or email allowed!).
Carving out this alone time is especially important after almost nine years together, too. Often feeling tired after a busy day at work and home, I know how easy it is to take each other for granted or let our relationship sit on the back burner and think, “It will be there tomorrow, now it’s time for sleep.” So, making time for our relationship in our daily routine—even though it’s surprisingly predictable and may not seem as spicy as our spontaneous pre-kiddo days—really helps keep the romance alive.
And maybe it’s because I’m 30 or maybe it’s because I’m a mom, but I don’t think romance is always about swinging from chandeliers (although it’s nice from time to time). It’s really about the small gestures too. Recently when filming a movie in Atlanta, Cash surprised me by having a beautiful bouquet of flowers delivered to the set. It was a simple, heartfelt surprise that let me know he was thinking of me during my time away from home. I loved it. He also takes over middle-of-the-night feedings, tends to fevers, and takes the girls to the park without me having to ask because he knows I need a break. All these things add to our romance.
What about you? How do you keep your relationship ticking and inspire romance now that you have kids? I’d love to know (it’s always great to learn more secrets to parenting success).
A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.