Keep The Fires Burning


Being romantic once you have children can be nearly impossible. Going on a date with your spouse can require so much preparation that it may seem easier to stay at home in your sweatpants and eat frozen pizza. But if you like your spouse (and I realize you might not), you need time away from the kids to unwind and reconnect. Throughout my 13 years of marriage I've found two sure-fire ways to keep the home fires burning: date night and lingerie.

Schedule a regular date night.
Date night can be a gigantic pain in the butt because it requires so much planning. You must find a babysitter, who is hopefully a responsible(ish) adult, and explain every nuance and bedtime routine. You have to explain how to make bottles the way your baby likes them, how much toothpaste your 5-year-old prefers versus how much your 3-year-old prefers. You must explain how to operate your TV, VCR, DVD player and your microwave. This requires at least a 30-minute monologue during which your babysitter's eyes will glaze over.

Leave your parenting persona at home.
My husband, Zeb, and I have always been pretty good about having a regular date night. What we aren't so great about is leaving our parenting personas at home. With three children born in four years, it was hard to find a convenient time to argue, to discuss our parenting differences and to fight about the important things that really make a marriage last—like which direction toilet paper should be hung (with the roll facing forward) who took the trash out last (probably him) and who unloaded the dishwasher last. (Don't listen to a word he says; it was me.)

Keep it simple.
If you haven't been on a date with your spouse in awhile, you might want to keep things simple. My husband and I spent an expensive evening at a Charleston, S.C., restaurant, arguing through appetizers and hissing at each other as the waiter cleared away plates.

We realized over dessert that it had taken us the entire meal to start acting like we liked each other, and now it was time to go home and endure another three weeks of parenting bootcamp before we'd have another chance to be alone.

My husband made a brilliant suggestion. He proposed that we should get a babysitter on Friday nights, go to Taco Bell, and for less than $20, we could fight like a couple of rednecks over bean burritos and fountain Mountain Dew. Then on Saturday, we could go on a nice date where we could act like the civilized adults, without scaring the wait staff.

Double date.
Going on a date with another couple is a great way to ensure you both stay on your best behavior. It's hard to fight with your spouse if you have an audience, and you are less likely to keep all the conversation focused on your kids and family business.

Spice it up with some lingerie.
Your other option, if date night just seems too complicated, is to buy some fun, flirty new lingerie. But here's my very best piece of advice concerning your skivvies: Hide them from your children.

I was doing laundry one morning and left some of my lingerie (think several steps up from your basic maw-maw nightgown and several steps down from Frederick's of Hollywood) to lie flat on the counter to dry.

Aubrey, my 5-year-old, walked into the laundry and immediately picked it up.

"Momma! What is this? Is it your babing suit?"

"No, honey. It's my underwear."

"Well, I want to see you try it on. It looks so fancy!"

I was not about to have a Victoria's Secret fashion show for my kindergartener so I blurted out the first thing that popped in my head.

"No, it's still wet. It needs to dry."

Aubrey got a mischievous look on her face, waggled her eyebrows at me and asked, "Want me to hang it up outside for you?"

"NO! I don't!" I said as I snatched my unmentionables out of her hand.

I'm not quite ready for all of my business to be wafting in the Mississippi breeze.


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