Valentine's Day may seem cliché to some couples, but it's the perfect excuse to give your relationship a little romance boost.
Planning the perfect Valentine's Day can help you feel all warm and fuzzy towards your mate—even as your mind is fuzzy from sleep deprivation. Take your and your partner's interests and needs in mind when it comes to planning what you do—and get creative.
April Masini, relationship expert from New York, says this holiday can feel like a "cliché"—especially if you play it safe with the standard dinner reservations, chocolate, and roses. So add a dash of creativity to create the day you really want. "You can express your love beyond the heart-shaped box of Belgian chocolates," and thinking outside the box can give you and your partner a memorable night.
When you start planning, write down a list of all the things you need to take care of to make it work—especially if you're going all out and making elaborate plans. And definitely give yourself plenty of time to put all the pieces together (like snagging that all-important babysitter).
If you're stuck on ideas for the perfect Valentine's Day for your partner, we've rounded up a few good ones to help jump start your creativity.
1. Have dinner for two (at home!)
When you have a new baby, finding a trusted sitter so you can get away and eat out can be a real challenge, but you don't need to do that to have an intimate meal. Masini suggests doing the meal at home, which can be very romantic. (And you won't have to worry about scoring those super in-demand reservations, either!) "Cooking dinner for someone so they come home to a welcoming and delicious meal is a very romantic gesture," Masini says. "The meal doesn't have to be expensive or sophisticated — but it does have to be thoughtful." Serve a few favorite dishes—and don't forget about the wonder of really good takeout.
2. Schedule a massage
Aches and pains are part of the deal for new parents (thanks to lugging around a few extra pounds of baby and gear), so planning a Valentine's Day that will give you both some R+R and time together is a great idea. "Have a pair of masseurs come to your home to give you both massages," says Masini. "Get the grandparents to host a babysitting sleepover at their house."
3. Have a staycation
You don't have to do anything grand that takes weeks of planning (because let's face it, we're tired—and you may not be able to travel far from your little one). But your evening or weekend can still be very romantic and meaningful. Do all the cozy things you'd do if you were whisked away: Sleep in late, eat breakfast in bed, discover the quaint touristy things in your town, cuddle in a bubble bath together, and enjoy each other's company.
3. Create a keepsake
If you're looking for something really personal and thoughtful, create a keepsake book for your partner that highlights all the things you love about them. Recall your favorite memories (with photos or mementos taped in), jot down how you felt the first time you said "I love you," create a list of reasons that he rocks as a partner, and highlight the reasons you love him. This can be a gift that he can look back on when the new parent craziness gets stressful and know that even through it all, he is loved.
4. Keep cozy and warm
Jet-setting may be out of the question, but you could still plan a little babymoon getaway. "If you live in the city, a snowy cabin in the woods or the mountains, with a roaring fire can be very romantic," suggests Masini. "Hot chocolate, Champagne, a bearskin rug and a big, comfy bed have the markings of a romantic Valentine's Day."
5. Give coupons that make sense
Now that you're parents, those IOU coupons can still be cute—especially if it was a gift you had given to each other in the past. But, you can re-create them with gifts that your tired partner would really find romantic at this stage in your life. Offer that holy grail—a Saturday morning sleep in—changing the diapers for the next week, or a set time away for your partner to shop or enjoy quiet time alone to recharge.
6. Make it a family affair
Can't bear to be apart from your little one? Make plans that are fun for everyone you love. Try a family-friendly day out at the zoo, a park, or a museum for three.
Valentine's Day can be a whole lot of fun for you and your partner, but make sure you manage your expectations: Your plans may need to change if you're feeling too tired or your baby needs you. Even if you have to keep your plans small and simple, Valentine's Day can be a great reminder to add a little love and tenderness to every day with your mate.