Parenting is hard, but I would argue that marriage is harder. Put the two together and it’s a recipe for a headache. But it is what it is, and this is what we choose for ourselves, so who are we to complain?

Just kidding, I complain all the time.

But in the interests of looking on the bright side, I would like to give myself a pat on the back for maintaining a relationship with my husband through seven years and two children. (Hell, my husband deserves a lot more than a pat on the back!) It hasn’t been easy, and it’s had its fair share of deep sighs, eye rolls and swear words, but here we are, still standing.

What’s our secret?

Swinging.

No, it’s not, take your keys out of the bowl, Constantia people!

I love me a good hack, so let’s look at our top hacks for having a happy marriage without leaving your kids in those trolleys outside Pick ‘n Pay (apparently those are for sandwiches).

  • Always blame the kids, the dogs, or some distant relative. Skid marks in the toilet? Must be the dog. Empty bottle of wine? Definitely a kid. Netflix not working? Goddamn Aunt Shirley.

  • Quality one-on-one time with your kids is good for the parents too. If you have one child, well done on your foresight, this should be an easy one for you. If you have more than one, divide and conquer. Getting attention goes both ways, so being able to spend time with a child allows you to focus on that one, and actually enjoy them. Think about it: trying to drink a coffee at a restaurant – no problems with one. Trying to prevent them from being hit by a car on their bikes – much easier with one. Trying not to get kidnapped at the beach – easy peasy with one. Everything is easier with one.
  • Sleep in separate rooms. This is not even a joke. Sleeping in different rooms has been an absolute marriage saver for us. And by different rooms I mean one of us on the couch, obviously.

  • Buy bigger beds for your kids. From the moment your baby is born, make peace with the fact that there will be endless hours spent by your child’s bedside over the years. Whether they are sick, lonely, or just want to have a party at 4 am, it’s highly likely that you will be in their bedroom. Some months you may even spend more time in their bedrooms than your own. Let’s be real, you’re not getting any younger. Sitting for hours on the floor, squashing next to them on a tiny mattress or, my favourite, perching dangerously half on-half off is not for the stiff-kneed. Get a bigger bed and actually get some sleep next to your child. Top tip: wear a helmet to protect yourself from those middle-of-the-night ninja kicks.
  • Get a dog. Dogs are man’s best friend, after all – and as close to a live vacuum cleaner as you’ll get. Then no one has to complain about the crumbs on the floor.
  • Two words: wine cellar.
  • Do not, under any circumstances, comment on the other person’s eating habits, exercise habits, drinking habits, driving skills, intelligence or singing ability.

  • Don’t gender stereotype. Fathers can change nappies and go to kids’ parties. Moms can play football and braai. If we all do the same thing day in and day out, we’re bound to get both bored and resentful. Mix it up a bit. Rock, Paper, Scissors works like a charm, too.

  • Teach your children that sweeping/washing dishes/mopping is a game. Even toddlers can be relatively successful when it comes to household chores – and as an added bonus it’ll keep them entertained for a few minutes.
  • On that note, invest in a dishwasher.

  • Nerf guns are a great way to resolve arguments between you and your partner. Just saying.
  • Use your village. And if you don’t have one, make one. Lean on your friends. Organise playdates so that you can get to know other parents and your children feel comfortable with other adults. Ask. For. Help.

Now, of course, I’m not saying that the Beard and I have the perfect marriage (I don’t even know what that means), but we’re in this parenting/marriage thing together, so we may as well work as a team to do do it as best we can.