When we were new parents, we were also really broke. I mean really broke. And we also happened to live in one of the most expensive cities in the country. Ten years ago, just parking in the movie theater parking lot cost $9. We quickly learned how to add a little spice to our young marriage, and often for free.
When our first two boys were two and a newborn, we moved to a more rural setting. Some of what I'll share below will be location-specific.
♥Put the little ones to bed (incidentally, this is the first step to a romantic evening). Pull out a pint of Ben and Jerry's (on sale occasionally at Safeway for 3.50), sit on the couch and eat the whole thing with one spoon. Smooch often.
♥Choose a book both you and your spouse would like to read together. Finish all the day's tasks, then climb into bed and read it aloud to each other. We've read Bruchko and several Grisham novels this way. Lots of shared laughs and stories.
♥Take a glass of wine out to the back porch on a balmy evening. Or a hot cuppa something great.
♥Take a virtual vacation together. When we were dreaming about a vacation to New Zealand, I pulled up a bunch of New Zealand travel sites and we browsed them together in bed. When we returned from New Zealand, I checked out a video from the library and we "relived" our trip one night, oohing and aahing over all the places we'd visited.
♥Figure out how to make a homemade version of an expensive coffeehouse drink your spouse loves. My husband thoroughly won my heart all over again the night he concocted a perfect homemade version of Starbuck's now obsolete Chantico. He'd make it for me and then I'd become his for the rest of the night...
♥Take a blanket out on the back lawn and lie down for an evening of stargazing. This, too, goes well with either wine or Ben and Jerry's.
♥Several years we couldn't get a babysitter (or couldn't afford one) on our anniversary. So I would feed the kids early then bathe them and put them down. My husband would pick up dinner for the two of us and we'd enjoy a nice, quiet restaurant date at home.
♥And now, with older children who stay up late, sometimes the shower is the best place for a date.