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Being a parent brings so much joy into your life, but it also presents all kinds of challenges to your marriage. One of the biggest challenges is, hands down, trying to keep the romance alive. I know romance isn’t always a top priority when you’re juggling late night breastfeeding, a busy career, and managing a household. That’s why I’m sharing my secret for making date nights actually do-able.

Parenthood doesn’t offer a ton of opportunities for romance, especially when your kids are far too young to have a social life of their own. In between changing poopy diapers and taming toddler meltdowns, you’ve got to try to find the time to date your spouse. Trying to add one more thing to the calendar sounds exhausting, I know, but it doesn’t have to be.

[ Want a healthy work-life balance as a busy mom? Get some expert tips here! ]

When you have a baby or young children, getting out for date nights, even just once a month, can seem damn near impossible. And let’s be honest, leaving the house on a Friday evening after a busy work week is the last thing we want to do. So, to make date night more feasible, why not just stay in?

Let me pause right here. When I say stay in for date nights, I’m not talking about posting up on opposite sides of the couch and burying your heads in your phones while Netflix streams in the background. The point of date night is to actually connect and bond with your partner, and to do that you have to give him your undivided attention.

To keep in-home date nights interesting, you need to mix it up and try new things. Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. So, go ahead and put the kids to bed, crack open that bottle of wine, and give one of these unique in-home date nights a shot.

10 Unique Low-Cost, In-Home Date Nights Living Room Camping

When my husband and I first started dating, I was going through a rough time. On particularly crappy days, I would come home to find a good old fashioned fort in the living room. The outside was constructed with sheets and furniture, and the inside was a comfortable lounge area made of blankets and pillows. We would take refuge inside the fort and forget all about our troubles.

It may sound silly to some, but it’s an easy and simple way to have an intimate date night. Light the fireplace (or even some candles), roast marshmallows, and tell scary stories. Hey, you could even spend all night long in the fort, if you fancy.

2. Outdoor Dining

If you’ve got an outdoor space at home, use it! Set up a small table for two, complete with candles and a bottle of wine (of course). Throw on some date night music (how about the Lumineers or some classic John Mayer?), and enjoy a private, romantic dinner under the stars.

Think your backyard or patio doesn’t have the ambiance worthy of outdoor dining? Ask the hubby to hang some outdoor lights. It’s a cheap and easy fix that can do wonders to set the mood.

3. Boudoir Photo Shoot

Okay, so this date idea may not be for everyone, but if you aren’t on the more reserved side (cough, prude, cough) you might actually really enjoy this one. Don’t be afraid to let your hair down and spice things up a bit.

Choose a desired back drop like a free wall, the bed, or even a favorite arm chair. Pick a few pieces of lingerie, throw on some music to set the mood, and give your hubby the camera. He’s the director, you’re the model.If you feel like flipping the roles, you can get behind the camera too. Better yet, set a self timer and get in front of the camera together.

[ Side note: I do not recommend using a camera phone. Don’t want any risquΓ© photos accidentally making their way onto Facebook or Instagram. Also, this one might be better for when the kids are at grandma’s.]

4. Wine Tasting

If you and your hubby are wine-os, you’ll love this simple date night idea. Start by choosing a few bottles of wine you’ve never tried before. Set your table with the open bottles, a couple of wine glasses, and some food that pairs well with what you’ll be drinking. Food is crucial. No food equals getting drunk way too fast, passing out early, and then fending off the kids in the morning while nursing a nasty hangover. Sounds freaking miserable.

Instead of downing an entire bottle of wine or two, take your time. Pretend you’re in Napa or on a rustic vineyard. Swirl, sniff, sip, and then discuss your favorites. You don’t need to be a sommelier to enjoy this one. Wine snob or not, wine tasting makes for a perfect date night.

5. Game Night

The awesome thing about game night, is there are so many ways to play it (pun intended). You can go the nostalgia route and choose a favorite game from your childhood; reminisce and share fond memories with each other. If you’re more competitive, games of strategy may be more up your alley. For those looking for something a little more exciting, there’s always an x-rated option to enjoy together.

6. Project Or Craft

With all the hours we spend pinning crafts and DIY projects on Pinterest, why not actually give one a try? You may love this idea, but make sure your hubby is actually into. Don’t force him to do something he will hate. Choose a craft or DIY together, one that you can both enjoy. Order a pizza, pour some booze, throw on some tunes, and get to work.

7. Puzzle

When’s the last time you actually sat down to do a puzzle? You might be quick to write this one off, but I’d encourage you to give it a try. It’s actually pretty entertaining, but not so much so that you can’t hold a genuine conversation, which is why I really like this option. Fair warning thought, if you’ve got a little bit of Monica Gellar competitiveness in you (like I do), you might get totally sucked in.

10 Unique In-Home Date Nights for busy parents8. Spa Session

If you’re thinking, “my manly man won’t even get in a bubble bath”, just hear me out. If he approaches this one with an open mind, I’m willing to bet he’d actually really enjoy himself.

Okay ladies, don’t torture your men no matter how tempting it may be to take tweezers to his unibrow. For this one to work, anything that causes discomfort needs to be taken off the table. Otherwise, your hubby is going to go running for the hills.

Focus on making this a relaxing activity you can enjoy together. Run a warm bubble bath with salts and essential oils. While you’re waiting for the tub to fill, start with a face mask. Help your hubs apply and rinse off his mask. Then slip into the tub together and just relax. Candles and wine optional, but highly recommended.

[ An in-home spa session is also a great way to practice self-care. Get more self-care tips here. ]

9. Cooking Class

I know I said “in home”, and I meant it. You don’t have to leave the house to cooking a new recipe together. Choose a recipe from your favorite celebrity chef, use a Youtube cooking tutorial, or to streamline things with a meal kit.

Let’s be honest, when you have kids, indulging in anything other than Mac & Cheese can feel like a gourmet meal. So let the kids have their Kraft, and work together to prepare yourselves a nice meal after they’ve gone to bed. Throw on your aprons and help each other chop, season, and stir. When you’ve completed your edible masterpiece, it’s time to dig in. Sit down to a table set for two and cheers each other to your cooking accomplishment.

10. Star Gazing

Sometimes all you need is a star-filled sky to add that little bit of extra romance. If you have a cozy backyard, fill a thermos with some hot cocoa or spiked cider, grab a blanket, and do some star gazing.

Do some research before hand and make a game of trying to spot certain constellations. If you have an accessible roof, even better! Set up some lawn chairs and (carefully) enjoy the view from up there.

Try to make date nights a priority and make it count.

Of course, I’m going to tell you to make date nights a priority for the health of your marriage, but if I’m being real and honest, I know that’s easier said than done. So, make them a priority when you can. Planning in-home date nights can take some of the pressure off, and make prioritizing a monthly or bi-monthly date night more realistic.

Whatever you decide to do on the rare date night, make it count. Put your phones away and really focus on each other. Hopefully I’ve inspired you to try something new, and spend a genuine evening connecting with your partner.

Do you have a favorite in-home date night activity that I missed? Share with us in the comments!

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