My husband and I are parents to two young, active boys.

We both work.

We live hours away from grandparents and haven't found the right sitter.

And, frankly, we're both pretty tired at the end of the day.

Sound familiar? I know having alone time together and nights out are important, but that's not really a reality in our household. Rather than admitting total defeat, we improvise with dedicated date nights in. And, truth be told, I've really come to appreciate them—especially because they are inexpensive and away from crowds.

Here are a few date night in ideas that are busy-parent friendly, perfect for the fall and totally effective at keeping the spark alive:

Make a fun fall drink: We always make a spiced hot apple cider drink as a celebration of the weather turning cooler. And then we store the leftovers for future date nights!

Carve pumpkins: Carving pumpkins is going to be messy no matter what. But the benefit of making a date night out of it is you don't have to worry about who is holding a sharp nice and what stray pumpkin guts the baby is trying to ingest.

Watch a new series on Netflix: You may wonder how this is a fall thing, but hear me out: Fall is when many new seasons of shows start back on TV—which means last year's episodes are probably now available on a streaming service!

Make caramel apples: Instead of buying them from the store, make some caramel apples with different toppings, nuts, sprinkles, coconut, chocolate, etc. The kids will love you the next morning when they wake up!

Host an in-home fall beer tasting: Have your own Oktoberfest date night by sampling new fall-flavored beverages from local breweries. I usually make big homemade pretzels to go with it—or grab a box of my favorite crackers. ?

Set up a chili bar: Start some chili in the crock pot during the morning and then go to town with toppings during your date night. My favorite options range from the classic (cheese and chives) to the unique (chips).

Watch a football game: I always like to record our favorite teams playing, make a bunch of yummy appetizers and watch the game without interruptions. We rarely get time to actually watch a football game when they are on, so this is a perfect way to catch up.

Go star gazing: Throw a few blankets in the backyard, make (or reheat) some apple cider and sit back to watch the star. This is such a simple pleasure that we're often too busy to notice and when is better than date night to appreciate the beautiful things around us?

Roast marshmallows by a fire: Make a small (and safe) fire in the back yard, grab a package of marshmallows and enjoy! We sit many nights out by our fire pit and it's one of our favorite things to do, especially when the weather cools down and we can really appreciate the warmth.

Can the end of the summer's harvest: My husband and I stayed up late and canned more than 20 jars of stewed tomatoes and salsa last week. (True story.) It was surprisingly fun and will be rewarding throughout the next year.

Have a fondue night: When fall rolls around, I suddenly start craving all the warm, indulgent foods that didn't sound so appetizing in the height of summer. That makes it a perfect time to grab a fondue pot (or make use of the double boiler) and go to town.

Make a craft together: We made beeswax candles together a few weeks back and it was so much fun. I'm still burning them and they smell amazing! (Talk about keeping the flame alive. ?)

Watch a scary movie: Set up the air mattress on the living room floor, grabs lots of blankets, pop some popcorn and then take advantage of all the scary movies on TV leading up to Halloween.

Make a gratitude list: Since it's the season to be thankful, write 20 things you are grateful for that involve your partner. Read them aloud during date night and then store away in a special place. Next year, you can pull them back out to read again—while adding to the list with 20 more items.

Keeping the spark alive is so important and easy at-home date night ideas like these will definitely keep the fire burning!