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Dublin: 11°C Wednesday 16 June 2021

7 extremely romantic things my husband does for me - from buying oversized pyjamas to cleaning up sick

When you become a parent, it’s a different set of gestures that set the heart aflame, writes Chrissie Russell.

Image: Emily Rudolph

“WHAT’S THE MOST romantic thing your partner has done for you since you had kids?” I asked a friend recently. She thought about it for a while. “Booked me a night in a hotel on my own,” she replied laughing. “Previously I might have considered it more romantic if he’d come with me…”

One of the many (MANY) things that changes after having kids is what constitutes a romantic gesture. Before having our two children I’ll admit I was best wowed by the big gestures: the mini-breaks, the expensive meals out, the candle-lit romantic nights in. Now, with a 23 month old and a five-year-old running round, the sight of multiple tealights blazing on the floor would likely cause my blood pressure to spike.

A chat with other chums revealed a similar slide. “I love when he says he’ll put the kids to bed so I can go to the gym” said one. “When he gets up early with the children on a Saturday morning,” replied another. “He ALWAYS cleans up the boke when the kids are sick,” answered a third, looking positively misty eyed.

These scenarios might not be the stuff of great cinematic romances, but I don’t want my husband standing outside with a ghetto blaster over his head (I don’t care if it’s our song darling, you’ll wake the kids) I want a man who will wash out the vomit basin and rinse plates before putting them in the dishwasher.

Post-kids I’ve found it’s the little gestures that generate a wave of attraction. With sleep and alone time in short supply, it’s when my other half silently acknowledges those needs. Of course there’s still a place for passion (and mini-breaks), but here are seven things that really make my heart flutter in this post-kids era of romance…

1. Maintaining essential fridge supplies

When I release control of the Big Shop to my husband I always dispatch him with a list and orders not to deviate from it. But I secretly love that he’ll nearly always add some nice things for me that I would never put on the Must Haves. Few things make me more certain that I married The One than when I open the fridge and discover there’s a large bar of Lindt and several cans of premixed G&T inside.

2. Still leaving love letters

My husband and I have always had jobs where we would be away from each other for periods of time. Early on in our relationship, we fell into the habit of leaving little letters for each other, just to say bye and I love you and I’ll see you soon. Sometimes these would be stuck to the fridge, sometimes hidden in notebooks where the other wouldn’t discover it until days (sometimes weeks) later.

Since our two kids came into the mix, I’ve become really useless at doing this but my husband still occasionally does. I opened a notebook the other day while he was away and found “You’re a great mummy, and wife and I love you” and it was just the loveliest thing.

3. Buying jammies, not lingerie

I honestly don’t think I’ve felt someone ‘got’ me more than when I opened a present from my other half and found fleecy loungewear a size too large.

Nothing says 'I love you' like taking out the nappy bin Source: Shutterstock/Vershinin89

4. Dealing with bins, vomit and form-filling

We pledged to love each other for better and worse, rich and poor, sickness and health. But if I’d known what parenting (and being an adult in general) was like – the endless nappy bin-emptying, having to deal with tiny people who have no concept of making it to a toilet, or at least a tiled surface to be sick, mortgage applications – I’d have definitely tried to work those into the marriage vows. The fact that my husband does them without being contractually obliged makes my heart soar.

5. Giving me Me Time

As a stay-at-home parent, I hear ‘mummy’ about 50 million times a day and it can be easy to lose sight of the fact that that’s only a part (albeit a big part) of who I am. I’m not good at prioritising time for myself. So when my other half tries to do it for me – whether it’s just taking the kids out to the park for an hour or booking me something he knows I’ll enjoy like a cookery class – I love that he hasn’t lost sight of me as me. Even when I have.

6. “I’ll do this birthday party”

No sweeter words in the English language, especially when it’s your week to attend yet another school birthday party in a soft-play place with face-painting. Both of which make me want to weep.

7. Making me laugh when I feel like crying

It can feel pretty dark (both literally and metaphorically) at 4am when you’re up with a sleep-resistant baby and questioning everything. If you’ve someone who can make you laugh and give you a hug it’s worth more than all the flowers and chocolates in the world.

More: My partner and I share a lot of things – except for the mental load of parenting>

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