Start the day with a family breakfast
Since having kids, Lacy Stroessner and her husband have always spent their Valentine’s Day as a family—and they kick the day off with breakfast out at a diner. “It’s the perfect way to start the day. And yes, the kids come along!” This is a great alternative to going out in the evening for parents of young kids because you won’t have to worry that your brood will disturb couples looking to have a romantic dinner, it’s less expensive, and no reservations are required. Or try a fun breakfast at home, like strawberry waffles or heart-shaped pancakes, and be sure to involve the whole family in the cooking.
Mandate an early bedtime
Make the kids a quick and easy dinner, like a box of macaroni and cheese, read them a few books, and send them off to their rooms to go to sleep. That way you can still spend most of the evening alone with your significant other. What you do after they fall asleep, well, that is entirely up to you. “After the kids go to bed, we have dinner, cheesecake, and sparkling grape juice,” says mom Jessica Guhl, “We usually turn on a movie we’ve seen before (because then you don’t care if you miss part of it), and play games. It actually makes for a fantastic date night!” Find out the 20 things happy couples do on the reg after work.
Pick a theme
Take dinner and a movie to the next level by picking a theme for the whole night. Rachel Peck, mom of three, made a red dinner including spaghetti sauce, red drinks, red jello, and red cookies one year when she and her hubby couldn’t get out. “We even had red decorations,” she recalls. You can also pick your movie and plan the whole night around your choice, dining on food inspired by the location of the movie or eating a meal seen in the movie at some point.