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Making Time for Love

Reading Time: 6 minutes

These days, “madhouse” is a pretty safe way to describe our #CactusLife. 

When Hurricane was born, life was normal. I mean, Houston was still recovering from the devastating effects of Hurricane Harvey and I was commuting 3 hours each day for work, but basically normal. Everybody was onboard to care for our long awaited newborn. 

Church friends dropped off meals. Aunts stopped by to bathe the baby and bind my stomach. My mother in law spent weeks with us in the early days, allowing me to sleep regularly. And when my 12 weeks of maternity leave ended, my mother’s sister arrived to care for the baby for 6 blissful months. And by “care for the baby” I really mean she did the majority of child care, half of the cooking and tidying, daily laundry, AND she took care of me: an anxious, worn out, first-time mother. 

How many grandmas does it take give Hurricane a bath? – December 2017

I thought, ‘Hey, this working mom thing is not so bad.’ My house was clean, my outfits were cute, and MisterE and I were getting along. 

Two and a half years after that blessed time, life looks a lot different and I wonder why on earth I thought I was tired then. 

Chief was born smack in the middle of the Covid-19 crisis, (and I’ll write more about that experience in another post). Not only was it a difficult pregnancy punctuated with frequent trips to the emergency room, but the entire labor and delivery lasted a whirlwind 2.5 hours. Our life as a family of four started with a bang!

Discharged 26 hours after giving birth to Chief. I felt as rough as I looked, but so the adventure began…

With everyone in quarantine and airspace closed, there have been no meal trains, no visits, no family members flying in from around the world to help. Hurricane is home from school until the pandemic winds down, and my little cluster feeder wakes up every 90 minutes to nurse. MisterE and I get nothing resembling rest during the week until my mom can come over. 

Thankfully, she lives just 30 minutes away (which, by Houston standards counts as right next door). She’s often able to spend a few hours with us on Friday evening and Saturday afternoon, which frees us up to do some frenzied house cleaning and meal prepping.

What’s more, because I wasn’t “eligible” for maternity leave  at my new job, I was expected back at work when Chief was just 8 weeks old. I cried the night before returning to work. I had no idea how I was going to make it through an entire workday. I imagined myself falling asleep during client meetings and getting fired for under-performing. 

In this new reality let me just say that my house is not clean. My “outfits” are accessorized with spit-up, and MisterE and I are like two ships in the night. I feel like I have not caught my breath in three months. 

We have to stagger our sleep schedules. And our mealtimes. And our office hours. With only four arms between us and a mere 24 hours in a day, we’re never able to do just one thing at a time. You see, Chief is going through a phase where he can only sleep at a 37 degree incline on your left arm, facing Mecca while you hum the Carmina Burana backwards at juuuust the right volume. 

Lunch at 5pm while trying to soothe a fussy Chief. What would we do without our Ergobaby 360?

And as for Hurricane, well, she needs to know the meaning of life, the universe, and everything RIGHT NOW and will continue to get louder in her demands until you give her a suitable answer. 

In all the madness hubby and I often forget to share a ‘good morning’ kiss until somewhere around 2pm. 

We recently realized that we are not making any deposits into our marriage bank. We’re operating like two workers on a factory line instead of two friends in a shared life. It’s so easy to put aside nurturing when we’re in “survival mode,” and it even seems like the wise thing to do.

But as MisterE loves to say,

“If you’re not whitening, you’re yellowing!” 

The oversimplified fact of the matter is that if we don’t make it, the kids won’t make it.  

So we decided in August to start doing emotional check-ins: 20 – 30 minutes each week where we sit down, undistracted, to talk about our highs and lows. Heck, we could even work in some cuddling and a cup of tea if we wanted to get carried away. 

Sounds totally reasonable, right? 20 minutes? Easy!


“Ha,” I say!!! 

The first week after we made this plan was an utter fail. Every day we’d both excitedly whisper how we were looking forward to just talking. We winked at each other from across the kitchen. We high fived as we passed each other on the stairs. We shouted, “Dream Team!” as one of us headed out to pick up groceries while the other ran into the room to change a leaking diaper. Talking is the stuff that excites us these days.

On the fifth day we started to get a little nervous that we hadn’t yet made this happen, so we added a time detail to our check-in “plan.”  

We targeted a Sunday afternoon; we figured both kids would nap after virtual-church and a heavy meal. We were so wrong. The littles could sense our anticipation and they were energized! Not only was there no sleep, there was so much ugly crying that afternoon — from the baby, annoyed that he was alone in his bassinet; from the toddler, offended that we would even think that she’d like to rest; and from a tired mama who just wanted 20 minutes of peace. I felt desperately helpless. Was it really possible that every minute of my day was accounted for? 

Something had to give. I thought to myself, ‘Maybe I need to rethink this blogging thing. Maybe Hurricane needs more screentime to free us up a bit. Maybe I shouldn’t go back to sleep after the 4:30am feeding and get started on house chores. Maybe I should shut down emotionally and leave MisterE to deal with it all…” 

Blogging at the messy kitchen island at 4am, trying to get Chief to fall back asleep. Hello again, Ergobaby.

But my husband, the optimist, pointed out that it was just a crazy week. The next week was a budget planning week, and if we could find time to talk about your money, we would find time to take care of each other. 

Yeah, no…

The second weekend was no better. Most of our “checking in” involved yelling instructions down the staircase and setting Alexa reminders for each other. One time we were miraculously watching the news at the same time and did some vague yelling about the state of affairs. That was nice. Modern romance, I tell you.  

Watching the news together while MisterE was on hair duty and I was tidying the house during my lunch break.

But the third week’s the charm, and I’m so looking forward to that 20 minutes reconnecting with my boo. It’s going down, y’all. I can feel it! Dream Team!

Though, if I’m being honest, we’ll probably just hold hands and take a mutually agreed upon nap. 

If you have any tips or tricks that you use to find time for your person-of-interest, please let me know. Please! I’ll send you a virtual high-five!

Have Fun! 


Hi, I'm Chioma Ikoku, a spirited explorer and a peace-loving homebody. I founded Casa Diem Life to help you combine the excitement of travel with the comfort of home, because I believe that adventure begins at home.

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