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Eight Ways To Jump-Start Date Night

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My husband and I try to go on a date once a month to keep our connection strong and to enjoy one another's company -- without the children. Sometimes we fail because we get tired, or the sitter falls through, or, unfortunately, we forget to make the date a priority. Gone are the childless, carefree days when we didn't have a time limit, we didn't have to find a sitter and it was so much easier to be spontaneous. But we are committed to keep our marriage fun, so we try to do fun things together. After sixteen years of marriage, lots of dates and three children, I've learned a few things over the years about how to get time in with my "boyfriend."

Although I feel that we have the opportunity to talk a lot at home, going out is always so much more enjoyable. It feels more official. I love getting dressed up to do something special or to simply share dessert and go to the local bookstore. Last year, we took a week-long cruise and my husband practically cried when the ship was returning home. We had a blast together --dancing, laughing and being with one another. I talk with friends all the time that struggle with finding the time to be alone with their spouse, so I thought I would share some of the ways that we have been able to consistently date each other.

Most parents are exhausted and, according to improveyourworld.com, only 25 percent of married couples date each other. Dating can make you a happier, more fulfilled and longer-lasting couple. Here are some ways to get going:

1. Decide on the day of the week that is the official "date night". This can be a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly standing date, but it should stay consistent. This technique works because it prevents either spouse from forgetting the special night with their favorite date.

2. Hire a babysitter for your dates and book them in advance. This will prevent you from cancelling because the sitter is already scheduled to come over. If you haven't planned a date, then you will naturally have an impromptu date because you already have the babysitter taken care of.

3. Create in-home dates if you are a new parent. It can be difficult for new parents to feel comfortable in the early days when mom is still nursing or the parents just aren't ready to go out on the town and leave the baby home. For those moments, have either your parents, a friend or a sitter come to your home while you have a nice date with your spouse on the deck or in the family room curled up with a movie, dinner and dessert. You could even pre-order a gourmet dinner and play your favorite music for dancing afterward.

4. Put your children to bed earlier. This can be tough for parents, but putting your children to bed an extra 30 minutes to 1 hour ahead of schedule can give you and your partner time to connect and to hear one another before you both feel exhausted.

5. Date early in the day. Meet your spouse for breakfast or lunch when the children are in school or in nursery care.

6. Book a room at a local hotel and enjoy a quick staycation with your spouse. These are so easy to do and they feel like long vacations, especially when all you had to do was drive twenty minutes instead of driving hours to get away for the weekend. This will allow you to be close to your children in case of an emergency or to help you get used to the idea of traveling longer distances.

7. Purchase tickets for a series in advance. It could be to plays, sporting events (that you both enjoy) or spa services. Make sure that this event has a date associated with the event which will commit you to attend. We booked tickets at the Broadway in Baltimore and the Symphony series for two years to commit us to a day and time.

8. Work out together. While working out doesn't sound like a date, it can be, especially if you both are walking or running together and allowing lots of time for talking and connecting.

Stay close, stay focused, stay happy and stay together.