9 Signs Your Conversation Topics Are All About Your Kids

March 28, 2015

You managed to make it out on a date, but you spend the whole time talking about potty training! Here are a few ways to tell if you're talking about your little ones too much.

The sitter just arrived, and you're out the door and in the car, heading to your favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurant. You and your spouse have looked forward to date night all week and can't wait to kick back, relax and enjoy conversation topics other than dinosaurs or princesses. But by the end of the night, all you've talked about is your kids. Sound familiar?

It's not uncommon to have trouble taking off your parenting hat, says Dr. Gail Saltz, associate professor of psychiatry and author of "Becoming Real." "Your kids are a source of great intimacy, and nobody understands how you feel about them the way their other parent does," Saltz says. But when you constantly talk about your kids, you're not talking about each other -- a vital step in healthy communication. Here are nine signs you are talking about the kids too much on date night:

  1. You're "That" Customer
    You're so engrossed in catching up on all things kid related, you don't notice the waiter is ready to take your order until you glance up from watching a video of your baby eating strained peas.
  2. You Refer to Each Other as Mommy and Daddy
    Being a parent is a big job, but don't forget you were a couple before you had kids. Use your date nights to enjoy some kid-free bonding and remind yourself of your other roles as husband and wife.
  3. You Zone Out
    Your partner may be bored with the kid talk, but you don't notice. "It's not always an easy task to divert your energy from your kids back to your spouse," says Dr. Nancy S. Buck, who holds a doctorate in developmental psychology and is founder and president of Peaceful Parenting Inc. "You are naturally immersed in your children; you have to learn how to be away from them and be OK with it." Instead of tuning out any other conversation topics brought to the table, try to be open to a change in direction.
  4. You Forget Your Table Manners
    You know you're a parent when your dazzling dinner conversation contains discussion of at least one child's recent bowel movements. And cutting your partner's food is totally off limits.
  5. It Gets Quiet
    After promising not to talk about the kids for the rest of the night, you struggle to think of any adult conversation topics. Instead of boycotting kids altogether, set limits such as only talking about kids for 10 minutes or only telling funny stories about your little ones. Buck recommends saving discipline issues or complaints for a different time.
  6. You Order for Your Kids
    Rather than discussing the gourmet items that you would like to try on the menu, you imagine how your kids would react to the choices: "Wow! The chicken fingers are wrapped in bacon!"
  7. You Rehash Old Stories
    Every conversation starts with, "Did I tell you what the baby did yesterday?" or "Remember when she ... " Instead of spending the whole night going over old ground about the kids, Buck recommends choosing a topic that you or your partner enjoys and deliberately directing the conversation in that direction. "Don't be afraid to tell each other what you want to talk about instead," she says.
  8. You Can't Put Your Phone Down
    You check your phone for missed calls and texts every 15 minutes, then call the babysitter just to be sure that everything is okay.
  9. You Cut Things Short
    Talking about the kids has made you miss the kids, so you go home earlier than planned. You didn't really want to see a movie anyway.

To make the most of your date and reconnect as a couple, Buck says, "Plan the date in advance, think of fun conversation topics, revisit nostalgic places and remind yourselves why you fell in love."

Need some fun date ideas? Try these 8 Date Night Ideas for Tired Parents.

Victoria Georgoff is a freelance writer and psychotherapist who enjoys writing about parenting, helping other parents, and of course, being a parent herself. Follow her on Twitter.

Tips and stories from parents and caregivers who’ve been there.

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