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Nestled in a small wooden box that sits on a dusty bedroom shelf are little cut up pieces of paper detailing all the things my husband loves about me.
…how perfectly we fit together when we hug
…your eagerness to do good
…you coming home from work smelling like glazed donuts
He wrote them what seems like a lifetime ago… before I worked somewhere other than a gas station, before the true stresses of marriage set in, and definitely before the stretch marks, long nights, or date-less anniversaries.
Coupled with a long story of his love for me written in a romantic American Greetings card, each small piece of paper was a sweet memory and some were ones we had yet to make. They were moments he hoped would happen and memories he wished for us to have together.
Now we have kids and life is complicated. After moving away from any and all family, babysitters really haven’t been an option. Date nights are few and far between. Basically meaning they happen with years of memories happening in between them. So it’s the day-to-day memories that fill our love box now.
The everyday kind of moments that happen whether on a warm day exploring in the summer or on a Valentine’s Day at home with the kids. Instead of stressing over February 14th, we focus on the meaningful connections we can have with each other as well as with our kids... because aren’t they just a testimony to the love in our marriage?
Simple at home date night ideas when you have kids
Posted up on our family whiteboard by a paper calendar and the week’s shopping list, reads a note my husband wrote, knowing that in the chaos and busy-ness of my day, I would see it and remember. That I would feel loved and cared for even if I was frazzled or frustrated.
And it got me thinking. What little things make each day special and how can we pour into our marriage even when we don’t have date night or a babysitter as an option?
Make an affirmation list
He’s your hero, your kids’ hero, and maybe even a hero at work. But not every day feels like that. A great way to start out the night snuggling on the sofa is to really show him how much he’s not only loved but really appreciated.
Exchange love notes
This can be either simple or more elaborate. Sometimes I stuff little notes into books and bags he’ll find randomly (maybe even months later) Or I leave hidden notes like under a razor, beside his wallet, etc. to find throughout the week.
I’ve even picked up an American Greetings card that I found on an endcap at the store one day that somehow perfectly captured the everyday relationship we have from the crazy jokes no one else would get to the simple moments with our kids.
Other times we’ve made exchanging notes a game to see how sneaky we can be in front of the kids. One rule for the sneaky game, it can’t be on your phone. It has to be a paper note. Now go try it!
Set a closet date
Yep. Get your kids set up playing a game or plan out an elaborate scheme to get the kids completely preoccupied so you can … ahem… reconnect.
Plan a candle-lit meal & let your child(ren) serve you
In fact, you can cook together as a family too. Our children love being a part of meal prep. As a kid, my dad and brother would kick my mom and I out of the house on Valentine’s day to do a special dinner for us. They would prep a multi-course meal, dress up, have kerosene lamps lit, and have a secretive meal planned out.
You could do the same and maybe even alternate between boys and girls. For special occasions, the kids can put American Greetings cards out on individual place settings and fill the card with personalized messages.
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Have “Movie Theater” Night
Sometimes we declare our home a movie theater where we gather snacks, pick some movies, and then put the kids on their own movie in their room while we watch a movie in the living room (hence the theater because there are separate showings).
Set an early bedtime for the kids
Whether it’s a nightly occurrence or something that is planned on occasion, set a bedtime for say 7:30 (even if older kids are awake and reading) so that you and your husband get some true quality time to connect with each other.
Other ways to make your significant other feel special every day.
- Give each other a massage while watching TV.
- Stock the fridge and pantry with his favorite drinks and snacks
- Have a secret wish list that you add things to that he mentions. Randomly buy one at a later date.
- Start and end each day with a hug
- Plan an early morning “banana pancake” breakfast once a month.
- Start the car in the morning to heat it up or cool it off depending on the season
- Encourage him with a gift that spurs along his newest hobby
- Set an alarm to wake up in the middle of the night
- Pack a special and favorite lunch for him or surprise him with a lunch date (kids and all)
Don’t forget to get your own Valentine’s printables
American Greetings has created some paper printables to make your every day a little more festive. You’ll find a Shopping List, Mobile/desktop wallpaper, February Calendar, and printable Valentine’s Day quote!
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Kara is an author, wife, and mother of 3 children living in Boston, MA. She has her degree in Secondary Education & Adolescent Childhood Development and is passionate about connecting with and even helping other parents on their journey to raise awesome kids!