Date nights used to be a thing of the past in our house. With three kids, work and a packed schedule, who has time for those?
Recently I had to dispense some marriage advice to a dear family member who will be tying the knot this summer. After almost 20 years of marriage, what knowledge could I possibly offer the happy couple?
Date your spouse.
Don’t stop dating after you get married. Stop making excuses about how life is too busy, you’re too tired and your kids are too young to leave. Start being more intentional about making time for the one person you made a lifelong commitment to.
My husband and I are just as guilty as the next couple. We’ve made excuses (and still do). Realizing that we are missing out on precious moments to connect has helped us be more mindful about finding time for us.
If you are a new parent, you may be in survival mode and going out on a date might seem impossible. I encourage you to find smaller ways to connect with your spouse, even if it is just for a few minutes at home while your little ones are napping.
In the blink of an eye your kids will be out spreading their wings. Making time for each other now will help you build a stronger foundation for when it is just the two of you.
Set Date Night Goals
You can create more quality time with your significant other by scheduling a monthly date night or day date:
- At the beginning of each month cross reference calendars and schedule your date(s).
- Arrange a babysitter. You don’t want to be scrambling at the last minute.
- Be flexible. Life happens, things come up. If you need to reschedule be ok with the change in plans.
- Hold yourself accountable. Set a yearly date goal or arrange a double date with friends. You are less likely to cancel if someone is counting on you to show up.
Why Date Nights Are Important
If your family is anything like mine, you and your spouse are lucky if you can have an uninterrupted conversation once everyone is home from school, work and activities.
Being able to communicate without interruptions and distractions is one reason why dating your partner is so important. It gives you a way to connect that you can't always do at home.
One additional piece of advice? Keep discussions about your children to a minimum. Dates are the perfect time to focus on each other. Talk about all of those things you can’t discuss at length with your little ones around.
Being a parent is amazing. Let’s be honest though. It’s also down right exhausting. Alone time with your spouse allows you to relax and step away from the chaos of everyday life.
Carving out couple time is a necessity for a happy, healthy marriage. You will be a better parent because of it!
Spending time together is a great way to reconnect. It can be easy to neglect your spouse and take them for granted. Having time set aside weekly or monthly to spend together will make a huge impact on your connection as a couple.
If I have learned anything during the course of my marriage, it is that relationships take work. Why not make that work fun by going on a date?
Dates don't have to be big, expensive affairs. When planning a potential list of ways to spend time together, think of your common interests. Or you can be adventurous and try something completely new!
- Drinks/dinner – As a parent, you know how rare it is to eat a meal without someone jumping up every 10 seconds, stealing food off their sibling’s plate or making weird animal noises. Keep a running list of restaurants you want to try so you are never stuck for options.
- Movie – Hold hands and share popcorn all while watching the latest flick.
- Theater tickets – If you live in a large city the options are endless. Even many small towns have local theaters or high schools putting on performances.
- Live music – Go to concerts, local pubs or small festivals. Local businesses may have live music as well. Bonus points if it is outdoors.
- Get outside – Fun summer date ideas are hiking, paddleboarding, fishing or evening walks around the neighborhood. Date worthy winter activities include skiing, ice skating, snowshoeing or even sledding.
- Explore a nearby town/neighborhood – Small towns and new neighborhoods are filled with hidden treasures. Restaurants, wineries, window shopping and more.
- Cooking classes – Check out your local grocery stores or community centers.
- Coffee/dessert/bookstore – My husband and I both enjoy reading. It’s such a treat to go into a bookstore without our children!
- Breakfast – Wake up to a breakfast or brunch date with your special someone.
- Game nights – A fun option for a couples date. Share a babysitter and head on over to the kid free house for some friendly competition.
- Sporting events – Outdoor or indoor, you can pretty much always find something going on in your community, whether it is a professional team or your local high school teams.
- Bowling/arcade – A throwback to dates of your youth!
- Picnic – Head to your favorite park with a blanket and basket full of goodies.
Many of these ideas can also become at home dates. Enjoy a quiet dinner or movie together after your kids have gone to bed. Wake up before your little one and have a cup of coffee or breakfast together. Or spread out a picnic on your family room floor while your baby is napping.
Get creative and make dating work for the stage of life you are in right now.
Tips For Finding Child Care
Finding child care can make or break a date. If you don’t have family nearby, there are several other options to explore.
- Family – Grandparents, aunts, uncles, older siblings or cousins. Bonus is that most usually love spending time with your kids.
- Teenagers – Hire a neighborhood kid or ask friends for recommendations.
- Neighbor – We have some fantastic neighbors who are happy to help us occasionally!
- Make a trade – Another way to get creative is to trade with friends. One couple watches the kids while the other goes out. Swapping kids with trusted friends is a good way to save on babysitting expenses as well.
Dating your spouse is an investment in your relationship. We invest in our jobs, our children, our health and our friendships. We should do the same for our significant other.
Oh, and one rule for date nights? No cell phones! Except for the million times you’ll check to make sure the babysitter hasn't texted.
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