When you’re a couple with no kids, having a thriving romance is easy. You can be spontaneous and do anything anytime – within the constraints of jobs and finances, of course. But post-kids? Keeping your romance alive after kids is a bit more complicated.
Whether you’re a couple who has kids together, or a couple who has kids from before you met, the tips here will help you create a thriving, healthy relationship with plenty of romance and love.
Plan a regular date night
Start by planning a regular date night. Once a week would be ideal, once a month is good, but don’t go any longer than once every other month. Pick a specific day (every Thursday or the second Friday of each month, for example) or plan out several dates in advance and choose specific dates to have them on.
You don’t have to plan the activities for date night now. Just get a regular date night on the books so that it’s in your schedule and doesn’t get forgotten or pushed back because you overbooked yourself.
It doesn’t have to take long for you to get this part done, but it is important that you do it together. Even if you have access to your partner’s calendar, planning this together is important to ensuring that you’re both on the same page and date night doesn’t lead to an argument before it even starts. Maybe even make this an impromptu date night and do it over a glass or two of wine.
Book a sitter early
Once you get your date nights on the books, get your sitter locked down. Whether it’s your mother-in-law, your sister, or a teenage girl from down the street, don’t wait to get them on board. The last thing you want is to be scrambling at the last minute to find someone.
This also ensures that you work any babysitting charges into your budget. Even if you have a sitter who does it for free, you might want to allow for special foods you might provide them as a thank you, or to rent some movies or cover other fun activities they might do with the kids.
Make notes on your calendar as to who is watching the kids, and a reminder to remind them about a week ahead of time to ensure no snafus because they forgot.
Date night doesn’t have to be dinner and a movie, or a romantic walk along the beach – though those things are nice. It can be a night spent playing mini golf, singing karaoke with friends, or window shopping in an exclusive boutique.
What if something comes up? Maybe despite all your planning, the sitter bails. Maybe you end up with a sick kiddo. Or maybe the budget falls through and you can’t afford the night out you planned. Be creative then, too.
Date night doesn’t have to be an out of the house adventure. Put the kids to bed, turn on a movie on Netflix and cuddle up on the couch. Lay out a blanket on the living room floor (or in the backyard under the stars!) and have a picnic of ham sandwiches and beer.
Take a couples vacation
Family vacations are wonderful. Whether you use them to visit other family or go to exotic locations, quality time as a family without worries about work, school, bills or chores is a great way to reconnect and bond.
But you and your partner need that as a couple, too. You don’t need to take a week and head to an island beach, though.
Take a weekend every few months and get away together. Find a home rental or a hotel and spend a long weekend holed up together. Get out of town or see your own town like tourists. Enjoy romantic dinners, late breakfasts, and plenty of uninterrupted hours for conversation and sex.
And don’t feel guilty about this time away from the kids. Building and strengthening your relationship as a couple improves their lives as well.
Give yourselves 10 minutes a day
Between work and kids, time is limited. Sometimes it feels like it takes everything you have just to find time to ask your partner to switch the laundry to the dryer or if they’d rather you picked up chicken or burgers for dinner.
But this lack of communication will lead to you feeling further and further apart. You need to talk about more than just whose turn it is to do the dishes or tomorrow’s extra-curriculars schedule.
Take 10 minutes every day to talk to each other – and not about chores, the house, work, the kids, or anything else related to maintaining your shared life. Talk about more existential things. Get to know each other again. Talk about your hopes, dreams, and fears. Talk about who you are, your mission in life, the legacy you want to leave behind.
It might be just 10 minutes, but you’d be surprised at how deep you can go. You may also find that it helps so much, and you enjoy it so much, that you find time for more than just 10 minutes.
Go to bed together most nights
It might not be possible every night, but try to go to bed together as often as possible.
This time is quiet and calm, allowing you to connect with each other. Quiet conversations in the dark are often much more intimate and revealing. And falling asleep with your partner beside you is usually more relaxing and easier to do.
And of course, you’re much more likely to have sex if you’re climbing into bed at the same time. Who doesn’t want that?
Your strength as a couple = Your strength as a family
Whether the kids belong to both of you or you’re trying to blend a family, the family is only as strong as you as a couple. Making sure that you take time to nurture your relationship and keep the romance alive, despite the complexity children bring to it, will benefit everyone.
If you’ve kept the romance alive after kids, what tips would you offer?