5 ways busy parents can keep romance alive
If you feel ho-hum about even the thought of celebrating Valentine’s Day, you’re not alone. With all the responsibilities parents face — juggling work schedules, caring for kids and trying to pay the bills on time — it’s not surprising that romance often is the first thing to go in a busy household.
But that doesn’t have to be the case, says Leslie Baker, MA, a licensed marriage and family therapist and instructor in the University of Phoenix master’s in counseling program at the Bay Area Campus.
“It doesn’t take an incredible amount of time or energy for parents to get their relationship back on a romantic track,” she says. “But it does take having the intention.”
Here are five ways to add some spark into your relationship:
Give to yourself first.
“In order to get romance back into your relationship, you first have to nurture yourself so that you have something to give your partner,” Baker advises. “That means investing a little time for yourself, whether it’s 20 minutes reading a book or going for a walk.”
This “me” time is essential, she says, “because when every moment of your day is used up caring for others and not yourself, you won’t have any sustenance left for your partner.”
Inject some unpredictability.
“One of the reasons the romance leaves a relationship,” Baker says, “is because your partnership has become safe, which is a positive thing in a family, but not necessarily great for romance.”
To rekindle the fire, she suggests getting out of your routine. “A great way to do this is by taking turns planning ‘mystery dates,’” she says. “It doesn’t have to be an all-day event, just a couple of hours of a planned surprise, going somewhere new.”
Nurture communication during the day.
With busy schedules, many parents don’t communicate often enough.
“Taking out a couple minutes a day just to text your partner in a nurturing way can help shift your relationship in a more intimate direction,” says Ramona Beasley, MA, a couples counselor and instructor in the master’s in counseling program at the Las Vegas Campus. “It can be as simple as letting them know you are thinking about them.”
Socialize as a couple with other adults.
After being accustomed to seeing your spouse as “just the other parent,” it’s great to spend time with other adults by taking a dance class together or participating in a coed adult sports league, Beasley suggests.
“Engaging in pleasurable activities with other adults can help bring spontaneity and connection back to a couple,” she adds.
Set boundaries with kids.
It’s critical to schedule alone time for intimacy, away from children, Beasley stresses.
Baker agrees and says she thinks many couples hesitate to establish boundaries with their kids so they can take the time they need for their relationship. “If you can’t afford a babysitter, get a good movie for your kids,” Baker suggests, “and put a lock on your bedroom door.”