How to Keep Romance Alive While Under Quarantine With Your Kids
Missing date nights with your S.O.? Here's how you can keep your love life afloat while maintaining social distancing measures.
As a parent, your focus right now is very much on juggling child care and work (if you're lucky enough to have it right now) and caring for your own physical and mental health as best you can. Enjoying date nights with your partner, if you're attached, might be the last thing on your mind. But romance can be worth carving out time for, according to experts.
While trying to force time together won't work, and there are days that are too full or busy to make room to foster your existing relationship or pursue a new one, says Stephanie Macadaan, a Los Angeles-based licensed marriage and family therapist and creator of The Happy Couple Plan. But it's also important to check in with how you're feeling and find ways to stay connected.
"The sheer stress of the media and having your kids at home doesn't necessarily allow for your body to relax and for you to enjoy romantic time with your partner," notes Jessica Baum, founder of the Relationship Institute of Palm Beach and creator of the Self-Full method. "But now, more than ever, it is important that you take care of your relationship. Having a healthy dose of romance in your life will help reduce your stress levels."
Here's what other experts recommend partnered parents do to keep their dating lives thriving through this difficult time.
Set the Stage—and Boundaries
Making room for connection means setting limits of all kinds. Baum advises couples to ensure little ones get to bed early and older kids are given boundaries as well. Then, decide how much you'll talk about crisis-related concerns—or if you will at all during your intimate time together. Finally, consider altering your surroundings to get your mind off of the day's stressors.
"Because we are all confined to our home, setting a stage is very important," explains Baum. "Couples can get really creative and use candles, lighting, scents, and music to create a romantic vibe at home."
Bond Over New and Old Activities
Maria Sullivan, a dating expert and vice president of Dating.com, suggests getting homey and making it a "date," such as:
- Challenge your partner to a cook-off. "This is a fun way to keep the spark alive with some friendly competition and can serve as a fun activity for the whole family— even the kids can get involved and mix up all of the ingredients," she says. "Once the kids are ready for bed, you and your partner can whip up some dessert."
- Get nostalgic and have a game night. "Play all the board games you used to as a kid, or even pick up a puzzle and work on that together for some quality bonding time," advises Sullivan.
- Take a trip down memory lane. "Pull out old photos," she recommends. "Share some of your favorite #TBT photos with your significant other, or reminisce about the early days of your family and relationship."
- Turn your living room into your own personal theater. "Decorate the room with lights, pillows, and blankets, make popcorn and grab some candy to snack on while your family watches a show or movie together," says Sullivan. "And once bedtime comes along for the kids, you and your partner can stay up to watch something a bit more romantic."
Gather for a Group Date
Everyone's turning to Zoom or FaceTime to stay connected with friends and loved ones. Why not utilize video conferencing for a virtual group or double date as well?
"Try scheduling a time that works for everyone to video chat and discuss what fancy restaurant you would like to try once you finally get to have a reunion dinner," recommends Sullivan. "Or test out a virtual activity—like long-distance charades or karaoke."
Keep It Simple
Sullivan encourages couples to practice gratitude for one another and think about the quality of one-on-one time spent together versus quantity. "Determine what low lift activity you and your partner can do together, even if it’s just enjoying a cup of coffee in the morning before your remote workday begins," she notes. "Take this time to talk through what’s on your mind, simply hold your partner's hand, and reassure each other that you are in this together."
Diving right into satisfying foreplay and lovemaking might actually offer you the most bang for your time and energetic buck. "Relaxing with your partner and being intimate might be the last thing on your mind—and the very thing you need," says Baum. "When you engage in romantic and sexual connection, you boost your immune system, reduce stress, and you get out of your head and into your body."
Nurturing Your Relationship
Ultimately, taking the time to carve out at-home date nights or simple, intimacy-boosting moments can make it even easier to cope with this emotionally-draining moment.
"The quality of your relationship sets the stage for your outside world," says Macadaan. "When your relationship is solid, the more resilience and focus you have in your outside world, so it’s so important in times of stress to nurture your relationship."
P.S. If you're single, you might be considering whether it feels good to make space for yourself to date right now. "If it feels enjoyable and nourishing, go for it," advises Macadaan. "If it feels stressful to fit in time-wise or feels awkward and disconnecting, hold off."
But no matter your relationship status, make sure, even among the chaos, to carve out the time and space to foster the connections you need.