Like everything this past year, Valentine’s Day 2021 will be different. We’re all contending with limited childcare options. Add in our three young kids, constant family togetherness and the general anxieties of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and romance can feel like an afterthought.
It’s one thing to get creative with love and affection after having babies, or that weird time and space when your kids are up later and could barge into your bedroom. It’s another to find ways to woo your partner when you’re together all the time or, in some cases, only together when exposure to coronavirus is mitigated.
Our boys are ages 4, 3, and 1, and it’s tricky finding ways to set the tone for a romantic couples night. Here are some of our tried and true date night ideas as you plan for Valentine’s Day.
Recreate a simple dinner date night.
Nick and I ended our first night getting to know each other at IHOP over pancakes and coffee a decade ago. We’ve recreated this date night since then with glee, and honestly, it hasn’t lost its touch. Pancakes and coffee are simple, approachable, and best when hot and fresh. Put the kids to bed — or send them somewhere else in the house with a screen— and recreate a date-night dinner from your earlier days. Keep it simple and go diner style like us or Lady-and-the-Tramp style with easy spaghetti.
Gaze at the night sky (and each other).
There’s nothing quite like a literal change in perspective. Gain some ground and find a scenic spot to take in the night sky. If you have littles, pack the kids in the car with a movie (tablet/laptop) and treats and let them hang out for a fancy “drive-in” while you and your honey sit on the top of your car in a parking garage or scenic overlook to watch the stars and/or city lights. If you’d prefer the comfort of your home, send those rascals to bed and scale your roof for a nightcap on top of your house. Or sit on your porch for a drink and people watching. Sometimes a simple change of scenery is the best way to spark a new conversation.
Dress up for no reason.
It was year two in our marriage, and we had recently done some serious spring cleaning. I came across my wedding dress when organizing and pulled it out for a random dinner later that week. It’s funny how much dressing up or changing a style can really change the mood, but re-wearing your wedding dress — or any other fancy outfit you own that you love — can really set the tone. Plan your at-home date or even an outside dining date in the fanciest duds you have. Don’t mind the stares and just enjoy the fun!
I hope all stressed-out parents can find some time this month to celebrate at least one date night amidst the chaos still surrounding us. Have a very Happy Valentine’s Day!
- From RAK contributor Sheri Smith: This Valentine’s Day, celebrate YOU
- From University of Arizona professor Kory Floyd, an expert on the communication of affection in close relationships: Ways to celebrate love and alleviate loneliness during this year’s COVID-tinged Valentine’s Day.