17 Date Night Ideas At Home For Stressed-Out Parents With Stir-Crazy Kids
Remember date nights? Back when you could hire a babysitter and go sit at a restaurant for two hours with your spouse without being constantly interrupted by a persnickety 4-year-old with loads of dinosaur factoids to share? In addition to the loss of general socializing with friends and neighbors, the current pandemic has changed the way parents can spend time together one-on-one... just when couples really need to be getting along and staying on the same page. But with the right date night ideas at home, you can find ways to stay connected (beyond griping at each other about how slow the internet has been).
Oh sure, thanks to #stayhome you’re around each other all day, but let’s be honest: Folding laundry together while another episode of Paw Patrol plays in the background doesn’t really scream romance. After a while, you might start to wonder... why even bother with romance right now? "Because it will make everyone feel better," Dr. Michael Aaron, Ph.D., Licensed Psychotherapist, Sexologist, and Certified Sex Therapist, tells Romper. But he admits it can be very tricky, especially when you add working full-time, homeschooling, and house management to the lists of jobs that might usurp making time for your partner.
"Romance requires balance," says Dr. Aaron. "Having enough of an absence to want to see someone again and time together to have that romantic time." But that can be difficult right now, especially for those co-habitating in a small space, say an apartment or studio. The key, says Dr. Aaron, is to create space away from your partner to allow for a desire for connection later in the day. For instance, he suggests working in separate rooms, putting on headphones or getting outside by yourself to create alone time. That way you won't feel like you've been in front of your partner all day when it's time to reconnect.
Equally important for moms and dads to realize is that guilt is the biggest killer of passion. And nothing comes with more guilt than being a parent. If you're spending your day beating yourself up for not being the best parent or not being the best employee, finding any fire for your partner is going to be tough.
"Imagine you're on a plane and they're telling you all the rules. 'If there’s a change in cabin pressure put the mask on yourself first.' The idea is you need to be able to take care of yourself in order to take care of other people," says Dr. Aaron. Which means give yourself a break, and don't guilt-trip your partner either.
But his number one tip for keeping the love alive during the pandemic? "Remind yourself that romance doesn't click on a dime," he says. You must be intentional and cultivate the "lover role." That means reminding yourself of how you were when you first met when your role was simply lover — not spouse, not business partner, not parent, not household manager, just lover.
"I recommend you start with idea of preserving that lover role in spite of everything," says Dr. Aaron. That means cultivating a feeling of anticipation for time together. Tell your partner how hot they look in those pajamas and how you can't wait to make out with them after the kids go to bed. "There’s power in keeping that dialogue going when there’s some anticipation," he says, even if you have to work to find it in the drudgery. "Keeping that anticipation simmering in the background will do wonders for people."
1. Sit outside in the dark after kids have gone to sleep
One mom I know has taken to grabbing a bottle of wine and two glasses and heading outside into the dark with her husband after the kids have gone to sleep. "It's nothing crazy, but the fresh air and quiet is relaxing after a long, hectic day juggling working and parenting," she says.
2. Light tea lights on the table no matter what and play some Bossa Nova
You've likely told your kid at some point to "make your own fun." Well, that applies to couples too, especially when the options for where to go include the breakfast nook or the dining room table. So make it nice. Light some candles, turn on some music, open the good red.
3. Make it a date morning
Who says it has to be a date night? In the wee small hours, before the kids have opened their tiny peepers, you can grab a quick coffee and conversation (hell, why not a quickie?) with your partner that will likely boost your mood for the rest of the day.
4. Share an experience like listening to a podcast together
Intimacy is all about shared experiences. So turn off the television and have some. Maybe catch up on a new podcast together or say "Alexa, play our favorite song" and have a dance party in the kitchen.
5. Take a (safe) walk together
If there's one thing we can probably all agree on it's the need for some fresh air these days. Make it a little more special by walking together, just the two of you. Obviously, use social distancing safety precautions and make sure your kids are safe as well.
6. Make dessert together
Sharing a gooey chocolate dessert at your favorite little bistro would be ideal, but whipping up a reasonable facsimile in your kitchen as a couple can be surprisingly romantic, too. Especially when you feed it to each other.
7. Have a sing-a-long
Don't roll your eyes. It may sound cheesy, but if you've got a musical partner, there are worse ways to spend your time than singing together. Grab your tambourine and jam out. You might be surprised how good it makes you feel.
8. Play a two-person card game
It sounds so simple, but a little game of Rummy or Pinochle can be a blast and get out some of that competitive energy out. Plus, you can raise the stakes as you like.
9. Have a tasting party
Doesn't matter if it's beer, wine, or dueling recipes of chocolate chip cookies, having a two-some tasting party is a great way to change up the conversation and share some time together.
10. Host your own DIY spa night
Breaking news: we're all a little stressed right now. With the option of scheduling a massage off the table, the next best thing is a spa night at home. Grab what you have in your bathroom cupboard (cucumber water foot baths, oatmeal face masks, lotions, etc.) and pamper each other.
11. Plan your next romantic getaway
Long distance travel may be off the table for now, but that doesn't mean you can do a little wanderlust planning. Pull out the atlas or spin the globe and start dreaming up your next adventure together. Rehashing past trips is also highly encouraged.
12. Binge a favorite TV show
It doesn't have to be the hottest Netflix release. You could even break out an old DVD series. Whatever it is, lean into the comfort of a favorite shared series and go ahead, stay up late.
13. Do formal Fridays
Let's be honest, the opportunity to really lean into our loungewear is very strong right now, but dressing up for your partner is a nice reminder that you care enough about them to look your best. That's why some couples are instituting formal Fridays during the quarantine where both partners choose to dress up on the last day of the week.
14. Work out together
"Lab studies show that after jointly participating in an exciting physical challenge or activity, couples report feeling more satisfied with their relationships and more in love with their partner," Psychology Today reports. So think of it this way, the couple that sweats together, stays together.
15. Have a little backyard campfire
Remember summer camp crushes? Those were the days. Bring back those flirty vibes with a backyard bonfire.
16. Read old love letters to each other
Like you have something better to do? Take a step back in time and reminisce on the early days of your romance by reading old love letters to each other.
17. Order takeout
You know what's super sexy? Not having to do dishes. Treat yourselves to a no-contact dinner of take-out so you can actually spend the time you'd be preparing and cleaning up the meal actually having a conversation.
Dr. Michael Aaron, Licensed Psychotherapist, Sexologist, and Certified Sex Therapist, drmichaelaaronnyc.com