In-Home Date Nights for When Your Kids are Finally Sleeping

Question from Our Reader about In-Home Date Night Ideas

Reader: What are some ideas for couples to connect when they have young children? We don’t have a babysitter to actually go out on a date night.

Hey there, fellow parent and thanks so much for writing in with your question! Here are my thoughts:

Firstly, I understand how tough it can be to stay connected to your partner when you have little ones to take care of, especially when you don’t have a babysitter or family close by to help out. But the good news is that there are plenty of ways to stay close to your partner without leaving the house or spending a fortune on a babysitter.

Even more importantly, congratulations on recognizing the importance of staying connected to your partner when your kids are little. It’s a very busy, sleep-deprived time of life when couples tend to have more work, less money, and whatever energy is left is often devoted to parenting. But it’s crucial to take the time to nurture your relationship with your significant other, as many parents of young children notice a decrease in relationship satisfaction at this time. Studies have shown that marital happiness will increase if parents find creative ways to connect while simultaneously prioritizing their kids’ needs.

Now, let’s get into some ideas for connecting with your partner when you don’t have a babysitter.

In-Home Date Night Ideas for When the Kids are Finally Sleeping

Once the kids are asleep, you may be right behind them, collapsed on your pillow ten minutes later, and that’s okay; you’re probably exhausted! To set yourselves up for success, it’s important to be realistic about frequency and to plan in advance. This way, you can both look forward to your special nights. If you tell yourselves you’re going to have meaningful or romantic connection every single night, it is a setup to feel guilty or self-target. Instead, I recommend aiming for bi-weekly or monthly in-home date nights so that you can continue this tradition for many years ahead (instead of burning out quickly).

Now, let’s get into some ideas for connecting with your partner when you don’t have a babysitter.

  1. Have a movie night: Pick a movie that you both enjoy, snuggle up on the couch with some popcorn and enjoy a cozy night in.
  2. Play a board game: Choose a board game or card game you enjoy, and spend some quality time together.
  3. Have a wine and cheese night: Set up a little cheese board with your favorite cheeses, crackers, and a bottle of wine. Spend the night chatting and enjoying each other’s company.
  4. Take a fun but informative relationship personality quiz together. Here is a page that links to a conflict management style assessment, an intimacy style quiz, and a relationship trivia quiz.
  5. Cook a fancy meal together: Choose a recipe that you’ve been wanting to try and cook it together. This is a great way to bond and enjoy some delicious food.
  6. Have a DIY project night: Choose a DIY project that you’ve been wanting to do, and work on it together. This could be anything from painting a room to making furniture.
  7. Plan a dream vacation: Spend the evening dreaming and planning your next vacation together. Look up travel destinations, hotels, and activities you would love to do. This is a great way to bond and plan for the future.

Little Ways to Stay Connected While You’re Entertaining Your Kids

In addition to in-home date nights, you and your partner can find sweet little ways to remind each other that you are romantic partners as well as co-parents. Entertaining kids can be fun and also exhausting, and sometimes couples make the mistake of waiting until they’re alone to enjoy romance. Instead, you can insert little micro-bursts of connection into your everyday activities. Here are some ideas to get you started

  1. Affection during family outings: Hold hands, hug, or give forehead kisses when you’re out as a family, whether you’re watching a child’s soccer game, walking to the park, or shopping for diapers.
  2. Give spontaneous compliments: Tell your partner what you like and appreciate about them in front of your kids. It’s good modeling for relationship health, and it also feels good.
  3. Connect by disconnecting: Take turns with the kids so you both get time to de-stress and enjoy restorative alone time. Self-care is crucial for individual AND relationship happiness.
  4. Surprise each other: Sweet little gestures and gifts can be shared when you least expect it, like leaving a love note, preparing a favorite dish, or bringing home a small gift along with the weekly groceries.
  5. Send flirty text messages: Enjoy some sexy flirtation behind your kid’s backs as a reminder that you’re lovers, not friends.

As you can see, there are plenty of ways to stay close to your partner even when you don’t have a babysitter. Whether it’s an at-home date night, family game night, or a simple gesture of affection, connecting with your partner is essential for a happy and healthy relationship. So try some of these ideas, and remember that even the smallest moments together can make a big difference.

Need someplace to start? My workbook, Love is an Action Verb: Couples Therapy Workbook is out now!

Feeling stressed? This free mini-course for couples: Empathy Made Easy is a video series of practice exercises for how to support each other when feeling stressed or overwhelmed.


Laura Silverstein, LCSW

Laura Silverstein is a Certified Gottman Couples Therapist, and author of Love Is An Action Verb.  She has thirty years of clinical experience and is the founder and co-owner of Main Line Counseling Partners, based in Bryn Mawr, PA. Laura is a frequent contributor to The Gottman Relationship Blog and has appeared as a relationship expert in media outlets such as the New York Times, ABC, and Today. She helps couples find more happiness as a research clinician, speaker, trainer, and writer with a positive, action-oriented style.

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