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10 Valentine's Day - By BRIGITTE ROZARIO

It's that time of the year again – when young ladies buy new dresses for that special dinner/party and young men pay the high price for a red rose.
For those with children, often there is no time, not enough money and never any energy to indulge in these romantic escapades. Most let the day go past with just a card or even none at all.
If you want to rekindle the romance this year with your spouse, here are some cheap and fairly easy ideas:

1) Plan a long weekend
Feb 14 this year falls on a Monday and Feb 15 is a public holiday (Nabi Muhammad's birthday). If you take leave on Feb 14, you will get a four-day weekend.
Ask your in-laws or siblings to help out by taking the children just for this weekend. Go away alone with your spouse. It needn't be somewhere far away or at some expensive getaway. How about somewhere closeby that is near nature? If you're within the Klang Valley, you might opt for Bagan Lalang Beach or even Kanching Waterfalls.
If you want somewhere even closer … just stay home, shut the doors and chances are you and your spouse will have the best sleep you've had since the years BC (before children).

2) Write a love letter
Forget the Hallmark and American Greetings cards. Go straight for the pen and paper and write something heartfelt – talk about how much you love your wife/husband, how you're so glad you got married and have kids and how you want to grow old together. Be sincere and truthful. If you're more adventurous, try writing a poem or a sexy note.
If you're musically-inclined, write your loved one a song and serenade him/her when he/she comes home.

3) Spa for your spouse
Imagine this: Your spouse comes home from work and finds the kids have been sent away for a night. The lighting is dimmed, soothing aromatherapy candles are lit, there is calming music playing, the long bath is ready and filled with luxurious, foamy and sudsy soap and warm water. Plus, the masseur is waiting. If you can afford it, you don't need to be the one rolling up his/her sleeves and massaging your wife/husband. Hire two nice “kakak” (traditional masseuses) and you can both get a massage.

4) Be the super parent
For husbands: Let your spouse do whatever she wants for the weekend and convince her that you will take care of the household for the duration (yes, that includes the housework and your kids).
For wives: Take care of everything for one weekend and let your husband out of the house for his alone time (with the boys golfing, meeting up or even pubbing).

5) Just do it
For husbands: Remember that long to-do list your wife has given you of all the things she wants you to fix or help out with around the house? Well, now's the time to get that list out and just do it (to borrow a tagline from that famous brand). If it's not stuff that need to be fixed around the house, it could be the list of “can you help me” items – like drive her around for errands, help her buy that new sofa she's been eyeing or even visit your relatives. Either way, it's a weekend of finally doing all the stuff you've been promising to do.
For wives: Remember the list of yummy stuff you said you'd cook for your husband? Well, now's the time to do it. You don't have to do it all in a day. You can do it over the weekend leading up to Valentine's Day.

6) Have a romantic dinner at home
Get your parents to take the kids for just a day from as early as possible (after school). Set the table just for the two of you with candles, if you like that. Set the ambience by having dim lighting or throw a sheer scarf over the table lamp for that “romantic” lighting. Put on some nice music in the background (something both of you like – perhaps even music you used to listen to when you were dating). Have your own dinner and dance (if you enjoy dancing).
Tip #1: Don't slave over a hot stove to prepare the dinner. These days, you can order food from your favourite restaurant and get it delivered. If there's no delivery to your area then drive over earlier to buy the food and then just warm it up at home.
Tip #2: If time permits, try to do some grooming so you look good for your date. This includes doing your hair, waxing (if you need to), tweezing (if you need to) and shaving (unless your spouse loves your hairy look). If time doesn't permit, don't fret it. Your spouse will probably be so happy for time alone with you that he/she won't notice your stubble.

7) Show interest in your spouse's interests
If your husband is a big football fan, then get him a DVD or book on his favourite team (check first for what he already has). It would help if you read up a bit about his team so you can have a conversation with him about the latest developments at his club. If he is okay with it, then watch the DVD with him and try not to look or act bored, ask too many questions or even start talking about how cute the players are.
If your wife is a big Oprah or American Idol fan, then get her a book or DVD on the show. Attempt to watch the DVD together without falling asleep or looking bored.

8) Make your own movie
Get all your photos – as a couple and as a family – and create a slideshow presentation just for you and your spouse. Remember to insert time stamps, little anecdotes and love messages in between the photos. Don't forget to choose a meaningful and/or romantic song for the background music.

9) Recreate one of your first dates
Get a DVD of one of the movies you watched together when you first started dating. Don't forget to get popcorn or whatever fast food or dinner you had that day (if you can't remember, make a guess based on places you used to eat at then) and set the mood so that your spouse is reminded of that awkward time when you were first getting to know each other. Don't forget to switch off the lights, but try not to fall asleep!

10) Do what comes naturally
With all the romancing and bonding going on (if you're taking any of the ideas above), you should at some point do what comes naturally. With the children out of the house, you can spend time together being intimate and just exploring each other physically, emotionally and mentally. Or you could just fall asleep in each other's arms – that would be great too!

Extra fun stuff
Draw or print some “vouchers” for your spouse. The options for what you are giving him/her can include:
1 x “Free car wash”
1 x “I'll drive the kids to school and back today”
1 x “No whining backrub”
1 x “At least half hour foot rub (for both feet)”
1 x “I'll do all the housework for 1 day”
1 x “Cuddle for 1 hour (and I won't fall asleep halfway)”
1 x “I'm all yours today”
1 x “Free sex and no excuses”
1 x “Get out of sex pass”
1 x “No nagging for 24 hours”
Feel free to give out as many of these vouchers as you want to and folks, by all means, be creative!

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