Romance is dead! Long live romance!
Most of us probably feel we should do something to mark the date of Valentine's; indulge or revive a little romantic feeling with our significant others or just use it as an excuse to send the children anonymous Valentine's (from Prince George or just the dog - either way it can be fun).
If you are running out of romantic steam or just need a bit of a push to organize that special something, here are a few ideas to get you started. None of them involve candles, setting the table or cooking - you don't even need to do them on Valentine's Day. But they do require you to get off the sofa and out of the comfort zone of your usual habits.
1. Bring the box set to life. If "quality time" with your loved one comprises parking your posteriors on the sofa and watching some fab drama (hey, I'm not knocking it - it doesn't require a babysitter and can stimulate conversation which doesn't revolve around your offspring), bring it all to real life by going to see some fab actors live. Loved Damian Lewis in Homeland or Wolf Hall? Grab some tickets to see him in 3D at Wyndham's Theatre in American Buffalo. Or how about Nordic Noir star Carsten Bjørnlund as tortured, sexy-yet-vulnerable Frederick in The Legacy? He is currently starring in the Danish language version of Noises Off by Michael Frayn in Copenhagen. A mini-break and some crazy physical theatre. What's not to like?
2. Recreate your first date. In our case, this will require a trip to The Shepherd's Bush Empire to see whoever is playing next Saturday - mmm, Macy Gray, I'll take that. Try a little secrecy here if it's somewhere you haven't been in a while, to add a surprise element. Obviously if you're old like me you may need to check your venue still exists. If your date was at The Cross at King's Cross on a Sunday morning, or The Astoria, you may need to change your plans as last I heard these got knocked down. That's not such a cool surprise.
3. Spend all day saying nice things to your partner. Tell them why you love them, why you're so good together and go through a greatest hits compilation of the fun memories you have. This doesn't require leaving the house but it may require a significant shift in your conversation. It's all about the "I love it when ..." rather than the hum drum of running around after the children or putting the bins out. Better still, try to spend 24 hours without mentioning the children.
4. Spend 24 hours without having a conversation about the children. This is already bringing me out in palpitations and making me feel nervous. What, I can't mention / remind my other half that eldest child needs clean football boots and youngest needs a water bottle and snack in her bag ... or that don't forget we were going to help with XYZ for one of them. There are endless topics that you can address other than the children, although probably best to steer clear of politics and religion, as we're looking for that romantic spark. An in depth discussion of the current election campaigns may not get the juices flowing. Who am I to judge though? You may have met each other in Brighton at a party conference.
5. Leave the house together, alone, for a few hours. This requires babysitting so don't obsess about it being on Valentine's Night. Just get a babysitter that you trust and head off for some time out together. It doesn't even need to be an evening. Better still, have an afternoon out together as you won't be tired or need to book anything special. Just go to the pub for lunch and a walk afterwards. If you do, just remember number 4. No conversations about the children!
Enjoy your Valentine's. I'll try to steer clear of talking about politics, religion or the PTA this weekend. Tell me how you get on.