Now that you have kids, has your spouse/partner/significant other morphed into a stranger? Does your idea of “date night” consist of scrolling your phones side by side while watching “Orange Is the New Black”? Is your most intimate joint activity paying the daycare bill?

It needn’t be this way. Ahead, parents reveal how they carve out time for romance amid the madness.

Limit tech

“Only listen to music; no TV or phones after a certain time, so you can be together.”

Make a dating schedule that’s realistic

“Try to push yourself to get regular time together. For a long time for my husband and me, that was Saturday afternoons during nap. We would hire our high-school-aged sitter to come over for a few hours to play with the older one while the baby slept. By bedtime, we found we were just too pooped out.”

Include the kids

“Doing things we both enjoy with the kids helps too, like going to the beach or playground: situations where we can all relax a bit and enjoy each other.”

Take a work break

“Go to lunch together once a week. Sometimes it’s not even an hour, but we make sure that we squeeze it in. It’s consistent, and it’s something to look forward to during a busy workday.”

Do your own thing

“Spend time individually with friends. It sounds counterproductive, but it gives you different experiences to talk about, rejuvenates you as a person, not just a parent, spouse and employee, and gives you a chance to miss each other.”

Play hooky

“Take the day off work and send the kids to daycare! Enjoy a nice lunch and a matinee.”

Share a hobby

“Go back to what made you connect in the first place. For my husband and me, it was music and theater. We’re writing songs and doing a show together now.”

Appreciate the little things

“Some of my favorite moments with my husband over the past year, our first as a family of four, have actually been with the kids: a long conversation while driving along the North Shore after the kids fell asleep in the car, holding his hand watching the older one play while the little one sits on the blanket, grocery shopping together with kids in the car cart, et cetera. The nights we’ve had sitters and gotten out sometimes feel too forced. There’s so much pressure! But those little intimate moments are so great!”

Have perspective

“It gets easier over time. Things ebb and flow in married life, and as kids get older, it gets easier to schedule time together. When the kids are old enough to do sleepovers, embrace it. Trade off with other like-minded friends. They will understand. When you’re going through the thick of it, not having adult time can feel overwhelming. Keep talking, figure out what will work for the two of you given your resources, and know that things will indeed get better.”

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