Valentine's Day is just around the corner, and if you're like many parents, you'll be hiring a sitter and going out on a special date. Sounds great, but what about the other 364 days of the year?
Don't blame yourself if you've cancelled a date night or two as a result of being "too tired" or "too busy". Romance takes effort and energy – two things often in short supply for busy parents. However, it's crucial that you take time to nurture your romantic relationship, both for your sake and your kids'. Below are some simple tips on how to keep the spark alive.
Make Time for Romance
Every parent knows it's important to go on regular dates, but by the time the weekend arrives, it's easy to blow off a date in favor of sleep! Here's where a little creativity can come into play.
For instance, couples can arrange lunches or even Happy Hour dates. You and your partner don't have to plan extravagant date nights; just taking time out together is enough, says marriage and family therapist TeNnile Ray. She emphasizes that planning is important when it comes to keeping the spark going. "Carving out time to be a couple is essential to the health of a relationship. Regular time away from your children gives you the opportunity to connect with your partner."
For some parents – especially those who work outside the home – date nights are a complicated trade off. Explains Lara, mom to 17 month-old Charlotte in Indianapolis, "I hate getting babysitters because we don't want to spend the money—and I feel guilty about leaving Charlotte more than I have to."
As a result, Lara focuses more on everyday ways of showing her husband affection. "I cook him dinner, wash his laundry, watch movies/TV with him that he enjoys, listen to him about his day and support him," she says.
In fact, Ray explains that the little, everyday gestures are actually what feed a relationship. She suggests making a "connection list" of simple things you'd like your partner to do. "Your list should have the things you desire from your partner. It might include a loving glance in the midst of a tantrum, a squeeze in just the right spot, taking over a chore for the other person or marking hellos and goodbyes with a kiss or a hug prior to greeting your child."
Happier Parents, Happier Kids
By taking time for your relationship, you'll be a happier spouse and parent, says Ray. "Daily intimate connection makes co-parenting possible. When you feel like you are in it together, it makes everything more tolerable." So, as you're scheduling the upcoming week, pencil in some time for your spouse – you and your kids will be glad you did!