For parents, sleep beats sex on Valentine's Day, survey says

Every year for Valentine’s Day, I ask my husband for a night all to myself at a hotel. For less than $200, I get 10 hours of uninterrupted sleep and I return home a better wife and mom.

My ritual goes something like this: Check in at 4 p.m. and change into my comfiest pajamas. After happy hour (wine and gummy bears in bed), I’ll break out my laptop and check out profiles on prison dating sites. The suitors use their real names, so after reading about how they enjoy whipping up romantic dinners, you can google their horrific crimes. It’s a complete waste of time, but it makes me happy.

Later, I watch hours of television and then I catch up with all the girlfriends I’ve been neglecting since I became a mother in 2015. For one evening, I get to be selfish. I’m free of laundry, bedtime meltdowns and dishes.

A solo overnight — it doesn’t matter if it’s at a 3-star overlooking a gas station — brings me more joy than a diamond eternity band ever could. And I’m not alone in feeling that way.

What parents really want for Valentine's Day

In TODAY’s Valentine’s Day online survey, where more than 750 parents responded, the gift of a nap is more desirable than jewelry. And a partner who unloads the dishwasher is more appealing than one who writes gushy notes. That’s why New York-based marriage and family therapist Dr. Jane Greer encourages her clients to focus on presents that de-stress and rejuvenate.

Apps for kids – do YOUR homework. More than 80,000 apps are labeled as educational, but little research has demonstrated their actual quality. Products pitched as "interactive" should require more than "pushing and swiping." Look to organizations like Common Sense Media for reviews about age-appropriate apps, games and programs to guide you in making the best choices for your children.

“Try showing your love through actions like letting your partner have time to nap or go to the gym,” the author of “What About Me?” tells TODAY. “That says you really care about their well-being. The gift of sleep is worth its weight in gold because your partner can recharge their battery.”

But we still want to be wined and dined by our sweetheart. When asked if you would prefer a fancy dinner at the hottest restaurant in town or a week of the kids eating your food with no complaints, you chose option A by 133 votes.

  • 65 percent of you would take a night of uninterrupted sleep over a night of amazing sex.
  • 81 percent chose a totally clean home over a piece of expensive jewelry.

Meanwhile, a longing for ‘me time’ is not the only thing TODAY parents have in common. According to the Valentine’s Day survey, your sex life and the emotional health of your relationship has gotten worse since having kids, yet you’re more in love than ever. Confusing? There’s a good explanation for this paradox.

Getting the spark back

“The depth of emotions that you feel for your children is a shared experience with your mate,” marriage and family therapist Dr. Karen Ruskin tells TODAY. “Thus, you experience a deeper love for your mate due to this shared experience.”

As for your low libido, Dr. Ruskin , who practices in Massachusetts, notes that it’s important to remember that love and sex are not always one in the same.

“You can experience deep love for your partner but not lust for them,” Ruskin says. And know, that in a few years, you might get the spark back. “It’s not uncommon for couples to rediscover their sexual relationship once their kids get older,” Ruskin tells TODAY. “For some couples, sex is better than it ever was!”

Sarah Jessica Parker (mom to three son James and twin daughters Marion and Tabitha): “As a working mother high heels don’t really fit into my life anymore - but in a totally wonderful way. I would much rather think about my son than myself.”

Spice things up: How to jump-start your sex life