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Dara Pettinelli

How To Celebrate Your First Valentine's Day As Parents

Now that baby is here, sleep is hard to come by—and romance even harder. Here's how to keep the flame alive on your first V-Day as parents.

Once upon a time, Cupid struck you and your partner. You fell in love, you did what many couples do…and now you have a baby. Although being a new parent can certainly add some stress to your relationship, Valentine's Day is the perfect excuse to step back, relax and enjoy each other. Easier said than done, right? Sure, romance can be a bit more elusive with a newborn in the picture, but there are some simple ways to spice up your day (and night). Here, relationship experts offer tips for how to make your first Valentine’s Day as parents memorable (in a good way).

Plan Ahead

Sure, surprises can be sweet—but when you’re a parent with a hectic schedule, making plans ahead of time ensures that you and your Valentine can slip away to do something special. Think of activities you and your partner rarely get to do together that you’ll both enjoy, and then ask your partner to set aside some time. “Try to take the day off or take a longer lunch break so you can take a walk together or have a picnic," suggests Alexandra Blumencranz, founder of Positive Parent Coaching.

Your main goal is to step away from the chaos of parenthood—even if it's only for an hour—in any way possible. Your partner will appreciate your efforts to get him or her alone—it shows you still think they’re sexy. Plus, as Blumencranz points out, it’s fun to have something to look forward to.

Reinvent Romance

Modern day marketing would have us believe that Valentine’s Day is all about sentimental cards and extravagant gifts—but really, "Valentine's Day is an opportunity to make your relationship center stage again,” says Ingrid Schweiger, PhD, a New York City-based couples therapist.

While a dozen roses, a box of chocolates and a fancy dinner out are all great ways to woo your partner, think about how you can set the mood and show your love in other, simpler ways, perhaps closer to home. "A clean bedroom, a made bed, some candles and soft music is pretty romantic when you’re used to diapers, bottles, piles of laundry and dirty dishes," Blumencranz says. Once baby goes down for the night (or for a couple of hours), uncork the wine and whip out the wedding china. Even if you’re using the fancy ware just for takeout or pasta, upping the ambiance is key.

Be Creative

“You’ve been giving everything to your new little one, but Valentine’s Day is the day to give back to each other,” Blumencranz says. But rather than stressing out over the perfect store-bought gift, go the DIY route and do something thoughtful for your partner. Here, some fresh ideas from the experts to serve as inspiration:

Give the gift of time. Think about what your partner likes to do but hasn’t gotten the chance to in a while, Blumencranz says. Recruit a babysitter for a couple of hours and give your partner the freedom to enjoy a yoga class, meet up with friends or head to the coffee shop with a book in hand.

Help your partner relax. Parenting is hard work, so do what you can to help your loved one unwind. He or she is bound to appreciate a homemade coupon book for back rubs, Blumencranz says, or merely the opportunity to soak in a bubble bath or kick back on the couch while you cook dinner.

Write love notes. Set a romantic mood right off the bat by placing a Valentine’s Day card under your partner’s pillow, suggests Colleen Mullaney, a New York-based lifestyle expert. Build on it by hiding additional love notes in a coat pocket, briefcase, gym bag, etc. Continue the trend through the day by sending short texts or emails reminding your partner how much you appreciate them.

Let your partner sleep in. That added beauty rest goes a long way and can really rejuvenate an exhausted new parent, Mullaney says.

Share special memories. If you do decide to buy your partner something, Blumencranz recommends commemorating the day with a family picture or a keepsake of baby's hand or foot print.

Valentine’s Day can be as special or as low-key as you want it to be—the biggest mistake is to not acknowledge the day at all just because baby is here, Schweiger says. "Even if life has been stressful with all the changes brought on by parenthood, reflect on what makes your partner unique and lovable," she says. "Deepening your intimacy is what it’s all about."

Updated January 2018

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PHOTO: Rob & Julia Campbell