While any form of romantic relationship may be at the bottom of your list of priorities or indeed a distant fantasy as you battle through half term, Valentine’s Day is one of those times when you feel duty bound to either remember your partner amid all the rushing, working, housekeeping and childcaring or think about redoubling any efforts to find one. Unless, of course, you couldn’t care less.
When asked about their top tips for career progression, many top women executives Workingmums.co.uk has spoken to mention the importance of picking a supportive partner. This advice features heavily in Helena Morrissey’s recently published book, A Good Time To Be A Girl. Her husband gave up his job as a financial journalist to help look after their nine kids. In the hopes that this is what you have done, given that it can be impossible at times to predict future supportiveness in a relationship or indeed anything relating to life after children, Valentine’s Day may be a good opportunity to reassess the attention you give to your partner [and, of course, vice versa].
Here are some tips on how to get the most from a time-poor relationship:
1. Remember the small things. Saying hello to your partner when they or you return from work or in the morning is important, as is any other form of acknowledgement that they exist. You may have been up half the night for the last week, but the simple basics of communication will not exhaust very much more of your energy. If you can stretch to a kiss or even a ‘how was your day?’ you’re doing well.
2. Listen to their answers and make an effort to concentrate. To people who don’t have children this might seem rather an unnecessary point, but it is very easy to nod and say yes and then instantly forget whatever it was your partner said about their parents coming round for dinner tomorrow. The resulting tension could be the source of major relationship turmoil. It is not that you are intentionally not paying attention, it is merely that your short-term memory is on overload and knackered.
3. If, even after listening and concentrating, you still forget stuff, write it down and put it on the fridge or in a place you look at often [ie not on the mirror].
4. Take time out regularly to go out or, if no babysitters are available or you can’t afford them, create special stay in nights without children present. This means you may have to stay awake so mark them on the calendar and get as much sleep in beforehand so you can keep your eyes open. Basically it’s about creating an evening which is for you as a couple. DO NOT spend it talking about the children…or Brexit.
5. If you are seeking a new partner, given that the first one did not turn out to be as supportive as senior executive women recommended above, try to suss out their supportiveness factor through a number of subtle questions and what if scenarios to see if they get the whole working parent thing eg test their knowledge of the school calendar. Have they heard of inset days and if not, what do they imagine they are. Hours of fun.
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