Editor’s note: The following article is written by a Skinny Mom Resident Mom. The Resident Mom program gives a voice to our readers, allowing moms across the world to contribute content to Skinny Mom. If you’re interested in becoming a Resident Mom, click here to apply.

resident mom header

Let me tell you a little secret… Having a baby changes everything.

Everything. Every. Single. Thing.

This isn’t the most earth-shattering news, but what are we doing about it? It’s obviously necessary for many things in your life to be different from your pre-baby days, but why are our personal relationships, romance and intimacy affected to the extent that they are?

couple in bed

As you may have sought out the answer, I have browsed the many articles on this as well. I’ve seen the self-help reading materials that alert mothers to their issues with love and sex and from what I can gather, they all tie back to having a lack of time and feelings of exhaustion. That makes sense to me, but guess what? That doesn’t change. You cannot welcome another human into your home and expect your free time to suddenly reemerge when he or she begins to sleep through the night. That’s just the beginning.

Here is the real scoop: With the limited time you have, you have to spend it well. It’s not just about finding free time or finding a sitter to create small windows of time; it’s about spending it wisely when you do have it. The quality of your time is more important than the quantity of hours you actually spend with your significant other after your great family expansion.

By quality, I don’t mean going out to dinner or creating any interaction where you sit and do something you could do at home or sit and talk about what happens at home. Those are great topics but do that over a coffee or something and move on. Will that make you better overall? Yes. Will that make you closer and address matters of intimacy and romance? Probably not. There has to be an escape from all of that.

I mean quality time that promises experience. Something to do together that forces closeness. The goal here is to go to a place where the quality of your time is so great that the memory of it will last long enough until you are able to depart on the next great escape. Here are some ideas to accomplish just this.

1. Go dancing! I know, I know. Your partner hates to dance, right? Or he has two left feet? Or you find it completely embarrassing to do this until you’ve had at least 2.5 glasses of wine? There’s a reason that this is my #1 suggestion.

couple kissing feature

I can’t even type the words ‘date night’ without laughing my butt off or stopping my fingers long enough to place the period before rolling my eyes. There was not a single date night in my house for 18 months after my daughter was born. Our very first night away from my daughter as a couple was for my best friend’s wedding in January. Consequently, there was a good amount of wine and John Legend ballads in this venue. My husband does not dance. Or he does, rather, but he has one dance where he moves his hands in a circle (kind of like “The Wheels on the Bus”), but dancing with me?… Oh no, no, no, no.

Thankfully for wine and whatever he was drinking, we bravely took to the floor in some type of ballroom-styled partner dance that slightly followed the music but made us laugh considerably anyways. We didn’t talk shop or even second-guess the decision to leave our baby overnight as we spun each other around and attempted some pro dips. We were so caught up in one another, in the music and in the physical contact, that we forgot about the guests around us and disregarded the fact that he doesn’t dance. It was one of the best evenings we’ve ever had and it opened the door for “date night” to become a part of our vernacular.

We needed the wedding as an excuse, but it doesn’t have to be that way. And there are plenty of places where anyone can go to feel the music and grab their significant other for a booty-shaking, mambo-making, hilarious good time.

2. Get to a concert. And dance. Sing to the music. Jump in excitement with the groupies all around you. Or get lost in one another as the hoards of people fade into a blur until it’s just the two of you there, holding hands and belting out the words to a favorite song. Or maybe you don’t know the songs but you aren’t afraid to be silly and pretend that you do. It’s loud enough so that you won’t be discussing your 2014 taxes or the new hole in the wood floor next to the refrigerator, but the acoustics are still soft enough to seize an opportunity to connect in other ways and enjoy the quality in hours of music enjoyment together.

>> Need some mood music for date night? Check out our date night playlist!

3. Take a cooking class. Not because you can’t cook, but there is always room for improvement, right? Maybe it’s a specialty cuisine you want to dabble in or even master, or it’s at one of those places where you can prepare things for an entire week’s consumption. Maybe you straight up suck in the kitchen and this is something that will improve your union either way, with less risk of a salmonella or an E. coli outbreak in the house and the opportunity to learn something new together. Taking a cooking class offers the chance to team up together against the heat, a challenging recipe, or the toughest kitchen gadgets to create and develop something new together. With a few hours of time and zero expectations, this can be a great way to share a lot of laughs, get a little messy and discover new taste sensations as a couple.

husband and wife cooking dessert together

BONUS: Take what you learn back to your own kitchen to make dinner preparation less of a chore and more of something you can do together or share the responsibility for.

4. Catch a cuddly flick! Operative word here: cuddly. The movies really do encompass everything a diversion should be about, especially with limited time to actually set off on a great escape. Though as far as quality is concerned, there is no communication involved (not always a bad thing) and you really can’t see the people around you anyways, including the person you are there to spend quality time with. So I think it’s imperative that if a date night includes a trip to watch a half-naked Gerard Butler seduce a sexy Jennifer Aniston type of Hollywood starlet (again), there better be some physical contact in that big dark room to make this rendezvous worth your precious time.

These days, that’s not hard to come by with the new design of theatre chairs or the option to see a film in a place that offers unique seating. In other words, get all up on that. Lots of snuggles, hand holding and arm rubbing at the minimum. And if the sight of Gerry makes you want to grip the sides of your chair and forget about your company, choose the animated feature instead. Whatever it takes to make that movie about the two of you, as in the two people heading back home together. That is the key!

>> Don’t forget the popcorn or these lightened up toppings!

5. Head to a Festival! And I mean a carnival, food truck fest, art fair, cultural celebration, even an amusement park; anything that involves festivity and merriment on a grand scale is where you should be for date night. Who enjoys these types of events the most? I mean like jumping out of their skin-type of joyfulness? Children. That’s right! It’s your turn to tap into your inner child for the duration of the date to completely let loose, abandon your fear of heights and jerky fast things, eat nothing but fried food and waste a solid $20 trying to win a 5-foot pink stuffed fox for “the kids.”

Yes, some festivals and fairs can get a little creepy and strange, but they are, for the most part, a very happy place to be. And if you play your cards right, it’s likely the last place any “business” can be discussed, the food will always on-point and the people-watching will be unrivaled from any date night hotspot on the town. Hold one another’s hands as you navigate the dusty grounds, sit close together on the whiplash provoking rides and take turns feeding each other elephant ears and deep friend bacon cheddar mashed potatoes on a stick as you enjoy what will likely be hours of unexpected laughs and offensive inside jokes. These are the things that make for wonderful memories to last until the next opportunity presents for another great quality date night.