Fourteen Small But Meaningful Ways to Feel the Love When There are Kids Around

Remember how much you loved each other before your baby was born? Remember going to concerts together, hanging out in your favorite bar making each other laugh, constantly canoodling, taking exotic trips with just the two of you? Remember how you were each other’s most important person?

Then you introduced another person into your relationship. A very demanding, needy person: your baby. This baby insists on sleeping with you, keeping you up at nights, being held by you constantly - sometimes even been worn by you throughout the day. This tiny little baby somehow manages to take up an enormous amount of space in your life. And you adore it. You adore it so much that you bring in another one, and the second one is just as needy as the first. You are surrounded by people who love you and need you and who you love more than anyone else in the whole world. You gladly give up parts of yourself and your former life to be with them and to make them happy and keep them safe.

But what about that person you loved before everyone else? Are you still each other’s number one? Do you still even sleep in the same bed? In the event that having kids or just time itself has tossed a big bucket of water on your roaring fire, read on. In honor of Valentine’s Day, we’ve compiled a list of 14 little gestures that will reignite the flames. They don’t require money or even extraordinary effort. They just require a commitment to one another and that undeniable love that inspired you to make a family. They may seem small on the surface, but they are incredibly meaningful and truly show your partner how much they mean to you.

Fourteen Little Things That Mean a Great Deal

  1. Pursue a hobby together. One couple I know trains for half-marathons together. Sharing a passion keeps you connected in a soulful way and gives you something to talk about other than the kids.
  2. Monotask. No one says monotask, but they totally should because multitasking is bullshit. When your partner is talking, really listen. Put down your phone. Tape the children’s mouths shut. Stop working on dinner or whatever and make eye contact. It makes people feel sooooo good when you focus completely on them. Also, don’t actually tape your child’s mouth shut - that was just to make a point and be dramatic.
  3. Laugh at their jokes. One of the things that most attracted me to my husband was his sense of humor. And one of the things that let him know I was into him was that I was always laughing at his jokes. It still works.
  4. Do the chores together. Cook dinner side by side. Grab a couple of beers and sit down to pay the bills once the kids are asleep. Take the dog for a walk hand-in-hand. Doing chores together rather than divvying them up can actually make you feel more like a team and less like roommates.
  5. And speaking of chores. Is there something your partner really hates doing? Do it for them. It sounds small, but it shows your partner that you really know them and that you want to make their life a little better.
  6. Hold hands. The physical connection is powerful and shows that you want to be close to your partner beyond sex.
  7. Recognize the secret anniversaries. Remember the day you first met? What about the day you moved into your first home as a couple? Celebrating the anniversaries that no one else knows about but the two of you remind you of your special bond. You don’t have to do anything elaborate. The day my husband first kissed me, I was listening to NPR in my car. Every year on that day, he has NPR playing on the Sonos. It makes my heart all warm because it’s an inside thing between the two of us. Of course now I just told all of you, so...
  8. Sexting - it’s not just for dirty politicians! Remind your partner just how unbelievably sexy and irresistible they are to you. I don’t know anyone who gets tired of hearing that. Maybe skip the pictures of your junk though. You never know who might get ahold of those pictures by accident.
  9. Keep your bed free of kids. If your children regularly sleep with you, it leaves little room for intimacy. You don’t have to be super hard core about it. If junior has a bad dream, comfort him. Morning snuggles? They are so sweet - no need to kick them to the curb. But in general, make sure you have a space that’s just for you and your partner for lying down hugs whenever you want them.
  10. Hide love notes for each other to find. Every now and then, hand write a short sweet something to your partner and drop the note in their pocket, tape it to the mirror, or tuck it away in their lunchbox. It doesn’t have to be poetry - just a quick personal note to remind them they are appreciated. The extra effort to hand write it rather than say, text or emoji it will not go unnoticed.
  11. Sleep naked (or near naked). Skin to skin isn’t just good for parents and babies. It creates incredible intimacy for couples. If you’re worried that your child might come in at night or there might be a fire, maybe try sleeping in something skimpy rather than being totally nude or have a robe nearby just in case.    
  12. Flirt. I know, I know. It’s awkward. It’s weird. But try it and see if it isn’t just a little bit fun too. And anyway, even if it just makes your partner giggle, isn’t that something? Keeping things light and silly is good for the heart too.
  13. Have each other’s backs. My hubs is the ultimate in loyal. It doesn’t actually matter to him if I’m in the right or in the wrong - he is always on my side. Hundo P. And it’s super sexy.
  14. And last but not least, my favorite: Put the lime in the coconut and drink them both together. Whatever your honeybunches did that annoyed the shit out of you, was it really that big of a deal? Let it go, man. Don’t worry so much. Not everything has to make sense or be so serious. Be silly and have fun together. Sometimes, that’s all it takes to make each other feel better and know that it’s going to be okay.