Stop me if you’ve been here before.
You finally got the kids to bed.
And I mean, FINALLY. (There was a struggle.)
Now it’s, what, 9pm? And you’ve had a long day. You’re tired. The house is quiet (you can’t be too loud or you’ll undo your hard work getting the kiddos down).
You really don’t feel like doing much of anything. But you also don’t want to go right to bed like a lame.
So what are some things that parents can do as a couple or individually after the kids are in bed? (Other than flopping down in front of the TV and turning on Netflix.)
Simply put, you can:
- Have an at-home date
- Do something fun separately (individual hobbies!)
- Get some stuff done around the house
- Just have fun in a way that’s not necessarily romantic or date-y
Let’s break it down a little further so you can get some more ideas.
If you’ve never read my stuff before, I’m not really about giving you a dozen crazy-creative Pinteresty activities you’ve never heard of before.
I take a more systemic approach and try to present all of the options you’re probably overlooking! I’ll give you a few general ideas of what parents can do when the kids are asleep, and then one specific recommendation in each category to get you started.
So let’s dive in.
At-Home Date & Romantic Stuff
I put this one first because it’s probably the most important
Yes, you need time for your hobbies. And yes, the dishes need done and the laundry needs folded.
But having romantic time as a couple is not something you want to continue pushing off forever and forever.
(Psychology Today calls it a necessity, not a luxury)
You know what they say, ‘don’t let the urgent overtake the important!’
Having an at-home date for busy parents can be a simple as:
- Cook an adult dinner once the kids are in bed (not chicken nuggets!)
- Create a gorgeous cheese plate or other appetizer
- Have a glass of wine in front of the fire or on the porch
- Whip up a special dessert
If you’re up for it, you can also get a little more adventurous with a sexy activity like:
- An adults-only board game
- Risque conversation starters
- Giving each other massages
- Taking a bath together
I’m not too afraid to admit that I was recently on the hunt for a sexy board game to play at home with my wife.
I spent a LOT of time looking for something that I really thought we’d enjoy. I mean, sure, anyone can grab some sexy dice or play X-Rated Jenga, but I wanted something that sounded… I don’t know, more fun and engaging?
Eventually, I came across Monogamy (Amazon link) and was NOT disappointed. It’s a whole experience that really takes you from completely cold (just put the kids to bed) to “can barely even finish the game” levels of hot.
I won’t go into too much more detail, but hit the link to read more about it. I HIGHLY recommend breaking it out occasionally to really spice up your at-home dates.
Individual Hobbies & Solo Stuff
Equally as important as couple time, and equally overlooked in a lot of partnerships, is individual time.
It sounds slightly counterintuitive, but it’s possible to be SO good at getting romantic couple time that you actually lose sight of yourself as an individual. And that can be just as disastrous for a relationship as not getting enough together time.
So if the kids are asleep and there’s nothing particularly urgent to do around the house, why not take a little you-time?
Here are some ideas for you to get some alone time as a parent:
- Read a book
- Work on a puzzle
- Do an adult coloring book
- Work on a non-urgent house project just for fun
- Go for a walk
- Play video games (though watch out, these can be a time-suck and can seriously sabotage your productivity)
- Do any specific hobby that you love that I haven’t mentioned here!
If you ask me, you should consider squeezing in a short workout after the kids go to sleep a few times per week.
A lot of parents will gripe that they’re too busy to get in shape, but will happily flop down in the evening to watch Netflix or play video games for a few hours.
And HEY, no judgment. I do this myself.
But I also make time to work out because it makes almost every other area of your life better when you do it.
You can make a lot of progress with just short, 15-minute workouts at home without equipment 3x per week or so.
Check out the free recommended routine over on the bodyweight fitness subreddit. It’s a perfect place to start!
Ever wonder how to be productive when your life is chaos?
It’s not easy! But it helps to write down things you can realistically check off of your list in a given day, and it helps to make use of what little time you do get to yourself at night.
For starters, there are ALWAYS things to be done around the house. And there’s honestly no shame in knocking out these couple of things and just going to bed yourself.
Truthfully, it takes a lot just to keep the household operating properly!
Once the kids are in bed, you can:
- Knock out the dishes
- Start or finish the laundry
- Do some general tidying up
- Take out the trash & recycling
- Set your coffeemaker for the next morning (I couldn’t live without this!)
- Work on your To-Do list and action items for the next day
Those tasks will pretty much be facing your every single night, or at least most nights.
There are also some slightly bigger but not gargantuan life-maintenance tasks that you could chip away at if you were so motivated:
- General organization — I don’t know any parent’s house that couldn’t use a little of this. Just pick one small area of the house to tackle at a time.
- Financial check-in — Make sure bills are getting paid, your monthly budget is on-track, you aren’t in danger of overdrafting, etc.
- Annoying one-offs — There’s never a good time to sit down and renew your car registration or update your address in old online accounts. These are pretty easy things to knock out.
- Meal-planning and prep — Get ahead of the game by creating a meal list for the rest of the week and making certain things ahead when you’re able.
Get the damn dishes done!
I know, not exactly groundbreaking, but nothing will have as big of an impact on how clean your home looks and feels. An empty sink makes the whole kitchen look tidier, and you can get to bed feeling like you at least accomplished something.
Plus, when you have kids, the dishes won’t ever stop or slow down. So when you get a day behind, it becomes twice as hard to catch up later.
Regular Fun Stuff
There’s nothing wrong with just wanting to have a little fun before bed. And if you do want to do something fun as a couple, it doesn’t have to be inherently romantic!
As important as it is for parents to love each other in a romantic way, it’s equally as important that you like each other and don’t exclusively think of each other as business partners.
Here are some fun things to do when your kids are asleep (that won’t wake them up):
- Play a board game
- Play a card game
- Do a really hard puzzle together
- Play video games together (way more productive than doing it alone!)
- Cook together (homemade pizza or pasta are great options)
- Listen to some new music together
- Order carry-out and just PIG OUT
- Daydream and plan future vacations, trips, or other life goals
- Listen to a podcast, audiobook, or radio show
And that’s just a few starter ideas!
Do some at-home karaoke!
I know this is cheating, a little, but if you think you can get away with singing karaoke downstairs without waking up the kids, you’ve got to try it.
We have an at-home karaoke machine like this one (Amazon) and absolutely love breaking it out for no reason in particular.
With some of these, you have to pay extra to get access to the songs, but we usually just put on YouTube and use the machine as a glorified microphone.
It’s not for everyone (I wasn’t initially a karaoke person either), but this thing won me over for sure. I can’t think of too many things you can at do at home that are more fun than this!
Hey, you know what? Don’t feel any pressure to really do, well, much of anything at night after the kids are asleep!
You’re tired and stressed. There’s no reason you can’t simply relax.
Try these stress management tips and relaxation techniques for moms and dads:
- Take a hot bath
- Meditate (seriously, try it!)
- Do at-home yoga (if not for the workout, then for the mindfulness and breathing practice)
- Take a walk (double-dipping on this one, because it can serve multiple purposes!)
- Listen to calming music
- Light some candles and just talk with your partner about whatever comes up
- And finally, if you really feel like you need to just drift away and take your mind elsewhere, watch your favorite TV show or a movie!
If your home has nice outdoor space, and the weather is pleasant, you should really try to sit outside for a little bit before you head to bed.
(We love to lounge on the patio. But just sit on the front step if you have to!)
We don’t get nearly enough exposure to the outdoors in our day-to-day lives! Just taking a few minutes to breathe in the night air and listen to the birds and crickets will do wonders for your mental state.
You can do this alone, or sit out there with your partner and just enjoy each other’s presence. But whatever you choose, I can almost guarantee this will have a positive impact on your mood.
Last, But Not Least: Go To Sleep!
There is literally no shame at all in just going to bed early and doing NOTHING once the kids are in bed.
Parents, on average, are horrendously sleep deprived. If you’re feeling the effects of this and you have a chance to catch up, you should definitely take it.
I wouldn’t go to bed right after the kids EVERY night, and NEVER get anything done or get any time together as a couple, but every now and then is perfectly acceptable.
Hell, it should be encouraged. Sleep is amazing.
Again, I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel here. I just wanted to show you guys that there are PLENTY of things you can do after the kids fall asleep, even when you’re tired and it doesn’t feel like there are really any options.
What do you like to do when you’re short on time and energy at night? What did I miss? Any amazing games or activities you want to pass on?
Hit me up in the comments!
And before you go, check out these marriage stories from Reddit for a little romantic hope and inspiration.
Hope this helps, parents.