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Romantic Valentine's Day date ideas for busy parents

Suzi Milovanovic has been a mother of all kinds: stay at home mom, work from home mom, and go-the-office working mom. She blends all these perspectives in her contributions to various local and national print and online publications, tel...

Love for real life

Your darling spouse is expected home from work soon, so you hurry to put the last-minute touches on your meticulously prepared meal, light the tapered candles that lie atop your immaculately set table, and change into something more comfortable. Your one and only love will soon be here to make you complete again.

Romantic couple on couch

[Screeeeeech!] Seriously? Not a chance! Parents may read about visions like this in romance novels once every fourth leap year, but the reality is, romance for parents today is a bit different. Make the most out of what really matters and show your love as real parents do.

Use technology

In the day of the smartphone, webcams and computers, there is no reason why you can't learn to text, video message or email your spouse every now and then. It doesn't have to be long or sappy; just send a quick message to say you're thinking about him, or to wish him luck in his presentation. You probably don't have time for much else.

Get a sitter

Enough said. Real parents appreciate the neighborhood teenagers who can drop by every now and then to give them one precious hour of uninterrupted conversation.

Rent a video and order in

Sure it's not a novel idea, but frugal, budget-conscious families across the country are hitting the video racks and ordering up takeout instead of blowing four times as much on an expensive dinner in a fancy restaurant. The time spent together enjoying each other in a comfortable, relaxed atmosphere makes it easy to reserve the extravagant nights for extra-special occasions.

Hand over the remote

While this may not seem romantic on the outside, the gesture of allowing your spouse that opportunity to choose what he wants to watch on TV has "love" written all over it. You may even be surprised when your spouse is touched enough by this selfless act of yours to insist that you watch what you want. (If you don't think this is romantic, then consider it a tip on how to use reverse psychology.)

Break a sweat

No, not like that, necessarily (or yet, anyway). Exercising together can be just as romantic as candlelight dinners, and even offers more opportunity to get closer! Encouraging each other to "keep going" or "do just one more" shows that the special bond that brought you together is still there. Take a walk, hike or bike, or try a free class at your local gym and reminisce about how great you both once looked, or how great you look now!

Make a scavenger hunt out of your honey-do list

Romance, creativity and efficiency rolled up into one! If the first item on the list includes painting the wall in the dining room, then make a trail that leads to the paint brush. After that, it's time to wash the car, so recreate a path to the soap and water bucket that lays waiting. At each interval, make it a point to stop at a destination near you for a peck on the cheek, a big hug or a hot cup of coffee served just how he likes it.

Romance doesn't die when you become a parent; you just have to come out of the fairytale and get real by using what you have and, above all, appreciating each other. 

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