Life after kids: How to keep the sparks alive!

As Valentine’s Day quickly approaches, whether you celebrate or not, many people are trying to find special ways to show their love. While I never turn down an opportunity for some flowers and dark chocolate or a sweet card from my kids, I think it’s silly to put such importance on just one day a year.  Specifically, in marriages, I think putting such importance on one single day can actually be a negative thing. Even more specifically, as parents, I think we need to put a much greater emphasis on our relationship and how to keep the sparks alive all year long!

Now, don’t get me wrong, I understand that having an incredible love life and making time for each other isn’t the easiest when kids are involved. Believe me, I’ve had plenty of date nights cancelled because of sick kids or lack of babysitters. It can be especially hard if you live far from family and friends to help you out. BUT- there are plenty of ways to keep the sparks alive and the passion heavy with and without having to “get rid of the kids.”

Set aside time after the kids go to bed.
I know we all have busy lives. I know that personally, night time is the only time that I have to myself. Sometimes, the only thing I want to do is watch my favorite shows with a large glass of wine and a snack until I’m ready to pass out. And while I think that’s healthy to do some nights, I think it’s necessary to add quality time with my spouse into the mix. And when I say quality time, I don’t just mean sex. Although, if you’re doing it right, it could lead to that! A few ideas of how to spend quality time at night with your spouse is:
-Read a book together
-Talk about your day- Highs and lows and everything in between
-Plan family vacations or day dates to do with the kids
-Plan your next date out; when, where, what you’re going to do
-Listen to a podcast together
-Play a board or card game
… the list goes on and on.
The number one thing I think is most important during this time (or any quality time spent with your s/o) is to get rid of any distractions that may take away from your special time.

Day Date at a baseball game!

Day Dates
If it’s ever possible for the two of you to get off work together while the kids are in school, or get a sitter during the day, day dates can be great!
-Go to lunch
-Go to the movies
-Go shopping
-Take a walk in the park
-Attend an exercise class or go to the gym together
-Cooking class
These types of dates are great for couples who don’t have much time in the evenings or weekends!

Schedule Regular Sex
Romantic, right? Might not sound like it, BUT let me tell you why this is great, without getting into too much detail. Personally, I am not a very sexual person. Do I love being intimate with my husband, yes. But intimacy shows up differently for everyone. For me, it’s snuggling, making out and having a good conversation. Now, don’t get me wrong, I do like sex, I’m just kind of, lazy.
Yeah, I said it.
Sometimes, sex feels likes a chore. In my marriage, as I’m sure in many others, I use the “rain check” excuse more than I’d like to admit. But when I know I made a commitment to my husband and planned the sex, I’m much more ready when it’s “go time.” Also, sometimes when sex is scheduled (whether you’re lazy, like me, or just don’t have much time) a couple is more likely to find the best way to pleasure each other, and get the job done a bit quicker. That may not sound ideal, but there is one huge benefit to this: the better the sex, the more you’ll want it! And the more you want it, the more of a priority it will become. And we all put more time into our highest priorities! Lot’s of good quality “quickies” are much better than mediocre sex that’s been put off until we couldn’t think of a good excuse!

“Parents only” vacations/weekend getaways
Again, I’m aware that this doesn’t always seem feasible. But if planned far enough ahead of time, it can work. We can make up all the excuses in the world, but when it comes down to it, you will make time for anything you make a priority. Talk to someone about babysitting well in advance. Don’t be vague. Give details of dates and times and make sure you give yourself a backup if babysitter 1 falls through. Your “vacation” may only last a weekend, but that’s ok! Just enough for the 2 of you to get away and appreciate the time away, to spend together without all the interruptions! 

Above pictures are from "adult only" trips we've taken in recent years including: a baby moon, a 4 mile race in Columbus, a college football game, Nashville and Vegas trip with friends

Set aside time for no electronics
Let’s face it, we can make all the time in the world for our significant others, but if we are distracted by phones, computers and tvs, it’s completely defeating the purpose. Maybe the more time you make for each other, the better the conversation will get. My husband and I recently started to put our phones down earlier and talk more when we get in bed. The first night we did this, we were up for an extra 2 hours just talking! Although we were up way too late, it was refreshing! You don’t realize how vague the conversations can be until you get rid of all distractions and just focus on each other! 

I could go on and on with all the different ways to connect with your S/O even after life with kids, but there is really one thing it comes down to, you have to make your relationship a top priority! When you prioritize each other, other things in life usually start to get better. Everyone feels happier, usually less arguing, and the kids are seeing a good example of what it takes to have an exceptional relationship!
My marriage is far from perfect and we don’t follow this advice nearly as much as we should. But one thing’s for sure, we both want to be happy, TOGETHER. Lord willing, our kids will someday move out and start relationships and families of their own, and what’s left is what started it all, just the 2 of us. You can’t put your relationship on the back burner for the entirety of the child raising years and still expect to have the same intensity as when you first fell in love. You have to put in the work and keep the sparks alive as often as possible! Just remember, your family most likely started because two people fell in love. Don’t let that love fall apart just because kids got involved! 

Happy Valentine’s Day, lovebirds! ❤