Lockdown with kids is many things and romantic isn’t one of them. If you’re also cooped up with your significant other, you may be reminded of the newborn days – competitive tiredness, extreme sugar consumption, constant crying, crumpled leisurewear and an occasional urge to run away and join the French Foreign Legion.

The cheeky-Fiorentina-and-Marvel-movie date nights of pre-virus times seem like an impossible, glamorous dream. And once parents have attempted to fulfil the daily obligations of care, cooking, working, walking, schooling and cleaning, the idea of a lockdown ‘date’ feels like one thing too many. But parents deserve a night out, even if it is at the kitchen table. We’ve thought about how to make it work so you don’t have to.

Start early

There’s nothing like wrestling hyper kids in and out of a bath then reading the same story over and over to make you feel like binning date night. Get the kids fed, bathed and in bed half an hour early – you’ll be giddy with the possibility of Having An Evening, and less likely to switch on Netflix and fall into a pile of teddies with a mug of wine and a crisp sandwich.

Don’t cook

Home schooling and working from home would be a lot less tricky if parents weren’t also running a non-stop catering operation. The next meal’s due before you’ve had a chance to clear the plates from the last one and relentless demands for snacks are issued during work calls, workouts and loo breaks. Give yourself a night off – takeaways are open! Deliveries are happening! Can cook, won’t cook.

Do cook

That said, if you love cooking but have spent the last few weeks dishing up joyless beige lumps, sling something fancy in the weekly shop. Slow cook, sizzle, wilt and drizzle. Boogie around the kitchen with a glass of wine in one hand and a wooden spoon in the other. And whatever delight you prepare, make sure it’s something the kids would HATE.

Dress code

If you’re missing getting dressed up, now’s your moment. Whether it’s the new outfit you were meant to wear to a wedding or you just fancy remembering what jeans, a bra or shoes feel like, go for it. Break out the fancy dress, put on your best PJs, just make sure that whatever you wear doesn’t have Cheerios stuck to it. Fancy!

Be romantic

Easier said than done. It’s not easy to kindle romance when you’re both prowling around a toy-strewn house like irritated grizzly bears in work tops and trackie bottoms, worrying about umpteen things and engaged in an unwinnable contest to see who’s the most hard done by. Unusual circumstances call for grand gestures; if it’s your anniversary or a birthday, pinch the crayons and draw a card. Set each other quiz questions (if you’re not utterly sick of the annoying weekly team-building quiz ruining your furlough buzz) or play an album that reminds you of your pre-kid days.

Screen dodging

In lockdown, every night is movie night. We’ve all completed Netflix and Amazon Prime while work, fitness, socialising and schooling all revolve around screens. Parents of small kids absolutely deserve the micro delights of their phones but if you’re going to the trouble of moving The Pile Of Stuff off the kitchen table, why not go the whole hog and go screen-free, too. Unless of course you’re a single parent on a Zoom date – carrier pigeons carrying flirty notes aren’t very practical.

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