L ife on Planet Kid isn’t easy. You’re up early to nurse the baby. You were up late with another child who needed his mommy. Everybody needs to be buckled into car seats so you can get to preschool. Forget about combing your hair, fixing your face or even changing out of your PJs.
You may recall, through a sleep-deprived haze, that you once had some romantic bones in your body. Once upon a time you went dining and dancing with that tired guy who stumbled out of the door this morning trying to find his keys – the one who blew you a distracted kiss while picking up his travel mug.
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Romance doesn’t always thrive in the land of sippy cups, board books, and doctors appointments. It may not do too well in the realm of girl scout cookies, baseball games, and after school rehearsals either. But though it can be hard to locate, and challenging to nourish, romance can help keep a relationship lively and healthy in the rewarding but tiring season of parenting.
Growing older, having children, and building a family can all be wonderful ways to deepen love. But love still needs to find daily expression, and it’s hard to communicate your feelings when you’re both dog-tired. Even finding time just to spend together can be a challenge.
So how do you rekindle the romantic spark if you’ve lost it?
Remember, it’s not a competition.
“You won’t believe the day I had!” doesn’t light a romantic fire. No matter which partner is mostly caring for kids, and which one is mostly working a job, or even if you’ve split those elements fairly equally. At the end of the day you’re both tired. Don’t spend precious time trying to one-up each other about who has it worse.
Do something fun and relaxing.
You don’t have to spend money or go out (though splurging for a sitter now and again is good). Just do something you can both relax and enjoy. Snuggle or give each other back-rubs while you watch a movie. Play a board game. Read a favorite book out loud.
Think outside the box.
A cozy candle-light dinner may not be an option while inhabiting Planet Kid. What about a weekend lunch? Or try an early morning breakfast, just the two of you, while the children are still sleeping, or a late-night picnic on the living room floor after the kids are in bed.
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Make ordinary times special.
Packing your spouse’s lunch? Copy a love poem and leave it next to her sandwich. Know he’ll be shaving before you’re up? Stick a romantic note on the mirror. Cooking dinner together? Put some music on and dance. Your kids might want to join you, but that lends its own sweetness.
Learn what makes the other’s heart sing.
It might be a loving hug or an act of service that communicates how you care. Yes, on Planet Kid taking out the garbage can be equivalent to giving roses! Even a sweet email or IM message can be a reminder that you still think your loved one is the most wonderful gal or guy on earth.
Rehearse the old ways of romance.
Revisit your love letters or favorite memories of how you met. Watch the movie you saw on your first date. Pop in your wedding video even when it’s not your anniversary. Let yourself be nostalgic, but don’t get stuck there.
Remember, romance may look different now, but there are still years of it ahead. 🙂