Valentine's Day is just one day out of the year. But the romantic gestures that day inspires? Those should last all year long.
Easier to say than do, right? Especially when juggling dirty diapers, soccer games, and unexpected middle-of-the-night visits from the kids.
Miranda Melquist gets it. She's a wife and a mom to three boys, all 5 and under. She's also a licensed clinical therapist in Erie, Pa., who specializes in maternal mental health.
"When you're a parent, especially, you have to pay attention to how you're treating your partner," she said. "You have to be intentional about it."
Connect as a couple
Start with open communication, she said.
"You need to be able to say 'I want to feel more connected to you so let's make some time for us as husband and wife, not mom and dad,'" she said.
Another good tip? Try to return yourself mentally to those early days of falling in love.
"Being playful is so important," she said. "That's where the romance lives. When your relationship was new, you were probably laughing and having fun all the time. All of that flirting is important to showing your partner how much you value them and desire them. Find that playfulness and you'll see how much fun and enjoyment you get from each other."
Advice from moms
We asked moms on our Macaroni Kid Facebook page about how they keep the romance alive in their relationships. We loved the variety of answers we received! Here are a few:
Love songs say so much
We have a playlist that we add to regularly. If we hear a song that reminds us of the other, we send it and add it to our playlist. Listening to the playlist is really romantic and always makes me smile. Bonus: we have a great music library already built for our wedding reception!
Work out together! My husband tried out my favorite workout class a little over a year ago and now he's hooked! He comes with me once a week and it's super fun to have that "date day" every single week. And a little healthy competition never hurt anyone either.
Let him take the lead
My hubs does an “at-home” date-night every Thursday! He makes a late dinner after the kids go to bed and we have a chance to connect with convo and a glass of wine uninterrupted. My favorite night of the week!
Take the time for a little extra
We plan “movie nights.“ One handles bath time (usually a team effort when we can) while the other sets up our den with decorations, snacks (themed), and then when they are asleep, we snack and watch a movie. We are basically big kids!
Little things mean a lot
Do little things for each other. Packing his lunch and handing him some coffee as he walks out the door is something little I go out of my way to do for him. He will order a book online for me that he knows I would like ... just little things.
Get creative about alone time
We get a sitter! And if that’s not possible, we make a lunch date on a school day, even if it’s to meet for lunch in our empty house.
As you celebrate Feb. 14 with your partner this year, talk together about how you can make Valentine's Day last year-round. After all, it's not only good for you and your partner -- but for your kids too! Melquist said children will model their own relationships on what they see at home.
"Remember that strong marriages make strong families, and happy couples create happy homes," Melquist said. "It's always worth the time to find the romance and connect with your partner. It's important not just for the two of you, but for the whole family."