As a parent, planning a night out requires a lot of work. And, although we love a good date night as much as the next person, sometimes it's just too much to even think about.

In this crazy, hectic, exhaustion-filled season we call motherhood, it's okay to admit we can't always have (or want) it all. But just because you don't feel like a night out on the town doesn't mean you can't still celebrate with the one you love. (In fact, we'd argue that now is when you need each other the most.)

It's time for the ultimate date night in—and we've got everything you need to make it happen.

Step 1: Set the mood

anthro candle

What's a romantic night in without a little mood lighting? These hand-poured soy-wax candles make the perfect backdrop for the ultimate date night in; scatter a few around the room and set the mood for the evening ahead. We're partial to the Volcano scent, a mix of tropical fruits with just the right hint of citrus.


Step 2: Relax, relax, relax

at home massage service zeel

Now it's time to relax + unwind—all without having to leave the comforts of your living room. Zeel offers in-home massages on demand with a few taps on your phone. Simply choose the type of massage you prefer (we recommend the Couples Massage, of course!), and the length of time, and you're good to go. And all of Zeel's massage therapists are licensed, insured, and verified through various ID services to put any safety concerns at ease. Pricing varies based on your location!


Step 3: Order in

doordash delivery

You're going to work up an appetite after all of that relaxing, so bid farewell to your masseuse and hello to your favorite meal delivered right to your door. Available in most major cities + suburbs and expanding every day, DoorDash brings the restaurant food you love right to your doorstep via their quick + easy iOS or Android app. All that's left for you to do is sit back, eat and enjoy.


Step 4: Get cozy

chenille blanket

A romantic date night in isn't complete without some serious snugglin'. We can't get enough of this super soft, super cozy chenille throw. It's like wrapping yourself up in a warm sweater. Pro tip: it does have a tendency to shed, so toss it in the wash on delicate before your first cuddle.


Step 5: Declare your love

love notes

This one may sound a bit cheesy but bear with us for a moment. When was the last time you truly took the time to tell your significant other how much you love them? How much you appreciate all they do for you?

Writing an open-ended letter can be tough, which is why we love this beautiful book—the prompts make it super easy to speak from the heart. It will also be fun to revisit the book in a few years' time and remember that moment in your relationship.


Step 6: Take a walk down memory lane

artifact uprising book

Since you're still cozied up under your blanket, now's the perfect time to break out the old photo albums and spend some time reliving cherished memories. Have a wedding video or album you haven't watched in forever? Now's the time.

Or break out those college photos and have a good laugh over how "tired" you thought you were then. And if you're ready to make some new memories, we swoon over these hardcover photo books from Artifact Uprising. They're heirloom quality and will truly make your memories shine.


Step 7: Indulge

jenis splendid ice cream

It's getting late, but it's never too late for ice cream. Our obsession with Jeni's Splendid ice cream is probably at an unhealthy level (both in the literal and figurative sense!), but ask us if we care. This ice cream is SERIOUSLY. SO. GOOD.

The flavors range from classic to out of the box, and the ice cream uses whole ingredients and dairy from grass-pastured cows. It comes beautifully packaged and right to your doorstep on dry ice. It's a bit of a splurge, but we promise it's well worth it.

Check out their Valentine's Day gift guide for a curated selection of extra delicious treats.


Step 8: Bring the sexy back

adore me lingerie

We can't think of a better way to end the Ultimate Date Night In than...well, you know. 😉 Adore Me offers a huge range of modern, flirty designs for every body type. You can shop online, or you can get even bigger savings by becoming a VIP member. Members take a style quiz and receive personalized suggestions every month, and the first set is only $24.95.


Step 9: Wind down with a book

how to not hate your husband after kids

Whether you're currently living it or just hoping to avoid post-baby stress, How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids is an honest, hilarious and helpful tool to keep your relationship in check after becoming a parent. Author Jancee Dunn has gathered the most useful tips and tricks from therapists, parenting experts, and even financial gurus, while mixing in personal, relatable anecdotes that will have you nodding along... and reading aloud to your partner!


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

When I was expecting my first child, I wanted to know everything that could possibly be in store for his first year.

I quizzed my own mom and the friends who ventured into motherhood before I did. I absorbed parenting books and articles like a sponge. I signed up for classes on childbirth, breastfeeding and even baby-led weaning. My philosophy? The more I knew, the better.

Yet, despite my best efforts, I didn't know it all. Not by a long shot. Instead, my firstborn, my husband and I had to figure it out together—day by day, challenge by challenge, triumph by triumph.


The funny thing is that although I wanted to know it all, the surprises—those moments that were unique to us—were what made that first year so beautiful.

Of course, my research provided a helpful outline as I graduated from never having changed a diaper to conquering the newborn haze, my return to work, the milestones and the challenges. But while I did need much of that tactical knowledge, I also learned the value of following my baby's lead and trusting my gut.

I realized the importance of advice from fellow mamas, too. I vividly remember a conversation with a friend who had her first child shortly before I welcomed mine. My friend, who had already returned to work after maternity leave, encouraged me to be patient when introducing a bottle and to help my son get comfortable with taking that bottle from someone else.

Yes, from a logistical standpoint, that's great advice for any working mama. But I also took an incredibly important point from this conversation: This was less about the act of bottle-feeding itself, and more about what it represented for my peace of mind when I was away from my son.

This fellow mama encouraged me to honor my emotions and give myself permission to do what was best for my family—and that really set the tone for my whole approach to parenting. Because honestly, that was just the first of many big transitions during that first year, and each of them came with their own set of mixed emotions.

I felt proud and also strangely nostalgic as my baby seamlessly graduated to a sippy bottle.

I felt my baby's teething pain along with him and also felt confident that we could get through it with the right tools.

I felt relieved as my baby learned to self-soothe by finding his own pacifier and also sad to realize how quickly he was becoming his own person.

As I look back on everything now, some four years and two more kids later, I can't remember the exact day my son crawled, the project I tackled on my first day back at work, or even what his first word was. (It's written somewhere in a baby book!)

But I do remember how I felt with each milestone: the joy, the overwhelming love, the anxiety, the exhaustion and the sense of wonder. That truly was the greatest gift of the first year… and nothing could have prepared me for all those feelings.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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My husband and I always talked about starting a family a few years after we were married so we could truly enjoy the “newlywed” phase. But that was over before it started. I was pregnant on our wedding day. Surprise!

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