Date nights are an important part of keeping the spark alive in a marriage or long-term relationship, especially after the arrival of kids. But finding the time and energy for regular nights out can be a real challenge for busy parents. 

Between work, household chores, childcare duties, and other responsibilities, it’s no wonder that many couples start to feel disconnected from each other. Going out to dinner and a movie becomes a rare luxury. While getting a babysitter and going out is ideal for date nights, there are many creative ideas for having special time together at home. With some advance planning and imagination, parents can enjoy romantic, fun nights in and reconnect without having to hire a sitter or drag themselves out when they’re exhausted. A night in together, whether it’s an indoor picnic, game night, or at-home spa treatment, can be an affordable way to make sure couple time doesn’t get lost in the hustle and bustle of family life.

Plan Ahead  

Setting aside a regular date night each week or month is crucial for busy parents. Add date night to the family calendar so it becomes a recurring appointment just like a work meeting or kid’s activity. Arrange childcare in advance by asking a family member, friend or sitter to come over and watch the kids for a few hours. Planning ahead allows you to look forward to and get excited about your special night. If an unforeseen conflict comes up, reschedule date night for the following week rather than cancelling it. Making your partner and your relationship is a priority will bring you closer together and strengthen your bond. 

Romantic Dinner  

Cooking a romantic dinner together can be a fun and intimate date night at home. Start by choosing a delicious, multi-course menu to prepare together. This gives you an activity to work on side-by-side while enjoying each other’s company in the kitchen. It also builds anticipation for the wonderful meal you’ll get to enjoy later. 

Some romantic dinner menu ideas include: 

– Appetizer: Oysters with champagne mignonette sauce or stuffed mushrooms 

– Salad: Arugula salad with roasted pears, walnuts and a balsamic vinaigrette  

– Main course: Steak au Poivre with roasted asparagus or baked salmon with dill sauce and wild rice  

– Side: Hasselback potatoes or roasted brussels sprouts with bacon lardons 

– Dessert: Molten chocolate lava cake or Baked Alaska  

Browse recipes together and choose options that sound appealing, but also have some complexity to make the cooking process more fun. Set the table with your fine china, crystal glassware, and a bouquet of flowers. Put on some romantic music and open a nice bottle of wine to enjoy throughout the evening. 

The hands-on process of cooking a meal together, along with the anticipation of getting to enjoy the fruits of your efforts makes for a unique and intimate date night at home. 

Game Night 

Game nights are a fun way for busy parents to enjoy quality time together at home. Here are some ideas for creating your own game night: 

– **Board games:** Classic games like Scrabble, Trivial Pursuit, Monopoly and Chess are great for game night. You can also try co-op games like Pandemic or Forbidden Island where you work together towards a common goal. Party games like Codenames or Telestrations add humor and laughter.    

– **Card games:** Play classic card games like Rummy, Poker or Gin Rummy. You can also learn new games together like Sushi Go, Love Letter or Exploding Kittens. Card games are an easy way to enjoy friendly competition. 

– **Video games:** For gaming couples, plug in your preferred console or PC and enjoy games together. Try cooperative games like Overcooked or Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime. Or go head-to-head in casual competition with games like Mario Kart or Super Smash Bros. Laugh together at the silliness of games like Goat Simulator or Untitled Goose Game. 

– **Game apps:** Download game apps on your phones or tablets and play together. Apps like Words With Friends, Draw Something, QuizUp, and Heads Up! offer a variety of game options. Try taking turns choosing different games each round. 

The key to a fun game night is choosing games you’ll both enjoy and keeping the mood light and playful. Playing games face-to-face also gives you quality time to laugh and bond. Get creative and make up your own silly games too! Game night is all about spending meaningful time together. 

Movie Night   

Nothing beats curling up on the couch together to watch a movie. Choose a romantic comedy or heartwarming drama you’ve both been wanting to see. Make some popcorn, pour some wine, get cozy under a blanket, and enjoy some uninterrupted time together.   

To make it more special: 

– Dress up for your movie date night at home just like you would for going out 

– Make movie theater-style snacks like popcorn, candy and nachos  

– Dim the lights and use battery-operated candles or string lights to set the mood 

– Cuddle, hold hands, and give each other your undivided attention 

Having an at-home movie date night is a great way for busy parents to relax and enjoy quality time together. The familiarity of watching a movie at home paired with making it feel like a special night out is a winning combination. 

Spa Night  

For busy parents, finding time for self-care can be a challenge. That’s why a DIY spa night at home is a great idea for a relaxing date night. Turn your bathroom into an at-home spa with candles, relaxing music and aromatherapy. Give each other massages with scented oils to unwind tight muscles. Doing facial masks together can be fun and bonding. Give pedicures using a foot bath, scrubs, lotions and nail polish. Take turns washing each other’s hair and giving scalp massages. Light some incense or essential oils in a diffuser to create a serene environment. The goal is to pamper and unwind without spending a fortune at a spa. A little at-home luxury can make you feel refreshed and ready to tackle parenting duties again. 

Camping Indoors 

One fun and budget-friendly idea for a date night in is to bring the camping experience indoors! Pitch a tent in your living room and grab some snacks to enjoy an indoor picnic.  

Make it extra cozy by bringing in blankets, pillows,  string lights and lanterns. Cook hotdogs together over the stove or roast s’mores in the oven for a taste of the campfire favorites. Tell stories, play campfire games, and sing songs to recreate the camping atmosphere. It’s a creative way to have an adventure without leaving the comfort of home. 

If you want to take it up a notch, watch a nature documentary on TV or stargaze through an astronomy app. Let the kids join in the fun too and turn it into a family camping trip! Just use your imagination to bring the outdoors inside. It’s an inexpensive and fun night for busy parents to relive their favorite camping memories. 


Turn up the music and have an at-home dance party! Dancing together is a fun way to get moving and connect. Make a playlist with your partner’s favorite songs, especially ones with memories attached. Slow dance together, show off your best moves, and don’t be afraid to get silly and dance like no one’s watching!  

Dim the lights and decorate the space with string lights to set the mood. Surprise your partner with their favorite flowers or snack to enjoy afterwards. The key is to let loose, be present in the moment, and have fun connecting through dance and music. Dancing together in the comfort of home can be a refreshing change of pace from the usual dinner-and-a-movie type of date.   


Making time for date night while juggling parenting responsibilities can seem daunting, but with some creativity and planning, it is possible to prioritize couple time. This article has highlighted various ways to recreate the fun of a night out right at home through romantic dinners, game nights, at-home movie theaters, indoor spa experiences, and more.  

While coming up with new date night ideas may take a bit of effort initially, it is worth it. Studies show that couples who spend meaningful time alone together, away from the kids, report higher levels of marital happiness and lower rates of divorce. Date nights provide an opportunity to reconnect, have fun together, and cultivate intimacy. So don’t let the chaos of parenthood crowd out your relationship. Schedule those date nights, get a sitter, and make couple time a priority. You and your partner deserve it. 

With a bit of creativity and commitment, you can enjoy special nights in and give your relationship the care it needs to continue flourishing. Don’t settle for the boring dinner-and-a-movie default. Mix things up and try some of the unique at-home date ideas suggested here. Most importantly, have fun coming up with new ways to connect and play. Make your love and your relationship a priority. You won’t regret it. 

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