My husband Chris and I have been a couple for 12 years, married for 7. In all that time we’ve experienced highs, lows, long distance love, pets, careers, health scares, marriage and two children. But through all of the ever changing moments, one thing remains constant. If you want a healthy relationship, you have to maintain your one-on-one time. No matter how hectic schedules get or how demanding your responsibilities become, making time for the two of you is so crucial. It gives you a chance to reconnect, relax and remember that yes, you do love each other!
We work really hard to keep at least one day a week for a date night. But sometimes we slip up and go two weeks or more… especially now that we’ve got a toddler and a newborn. And guess what? Those are the weeks we tend to fall into a rut and become stressed out, frazzled parents. We also tend to nitpick and bicker with each other more. “There’s laundry to do, work to be finished, kids to feed and bathe… Oh my God, the walls are closing in on us!”
But when we make the time to breathe, hire a sitter and spend some time just the two of us doing something FUN… we’re golden!
So, I’d like to share with you my 5 tips for a date night, done right! I’ll share mistakes we’ve made, and the things that worked for us. All to ensure your date night is fun, productive and brings the two of you closer together.
1.) Re-think date NIGHT.
Okay, this is probably the absolute best piece of advice I can give to parents. Date night doesn’t have to mean date at night. This is how it usually goes down: You hire a sitter because you want to do dinner and a movie. Sitter is supposed to come at 7:30. You want things to go as smoothly as possible while you’re away, so you scramble to get the kids fed, bathed and in their jammies by the time she shows up. Then you hurry off to your 8 o’clock dinner. By the time 9:30 rolls around, that glass of wine has hit you and you’re about two seconds away from snoozeville. Who can make it through a movie? But you go anyway and get home at like midnight. Well – those kids will be up at 7 regardless. They don’t care how late you were up the night before! Get ready for a looot of coffee the next morning. AmIright?
Try this instead: Chris and I like to do the early bird thing. I know, eating dinner at 5:00 seems a little strange at first, but the best thing you can do is get the sitter to do the work for you. You’re already paying her (and it adds up quickly), so get your money’s worth, mama! We like to have our sitter come around 4:30. She can play with the kids for an hour, feed them, bathe them and wind them down for the night. Meanwhile – we’re at a nice quiet dinner and we can see a movie after and still be done by 9. Guess what? You’re still wide awake and you can head home and still enjoy the rest of your night together in a quiet house! And that can lead to some very nice bonding time… you’re welcome.
2.) Make a plan.
Yes, some of the fun of date night is getting out of your routine. But – you have to have at least some kind of plan going into it. The times that we’ve tried to just “wing it”, we end up either driving around aimlessly looking for things to do. Or we leave dinner and end up just heading home since we can’t decide where to go next. So take a little bit of time to see what’s happening around town, check movie times, look for new restaurant reviews, etc. Also – classes can be a lot of fun! Cooking classes are a unique way to bond and there are even cocktail classes where you get to learn the art of mixology and enjoy the fruits of your labor afterward. That way when you do head out you aren’t wasting precious time that could have been spent listening to live music, or enjoying drinks at that new bar you read about online.
3.) Go somewhere there’s a lot to do.
On that note – try to find places where you can knock out a few things in one spot. We live in Orlando. It takes at least 20 minutes to get EVERYWHERE. Double that if, heaven forbid, you have to get on I-4. Some of the best dates we’ve had have happened all in the same spot. Find the trendy street downtown that has places to eat, museums, cafes, movie theaters and even shopping. You won’t waste time or gas driving to several different places. Again – we want to make the most of your time and your money. That sitter can get expensive!
4.) Throw out the “Don’t talk about the kids” rule.
I’ve gone back and forth on this one a bit, but ultimately I think it’s perfectly fine to talk about the kids on your date. I know, a lot of people say this is the time to rediscover each other and have conversations about your other interests and things that inspire you. I say, at this point in my life, my kids ARE my interest! Chris and I have different interactions with each of our kids and also some fun shared moments. And right now, those are the things we love talking about. We crack up when we recount Jack’s potty training mishaps… we both get warm and fuzzy when we share the sweet moment Charlie showed us his first gummy smile… and we can catch up on the little things that happened when one of us wasn’t there to see it. Talking about our kids is something only the two of us are both truly interested in and it’s a way for us to feel closer to one another.
I say – talk about whatever comes easiest for you and your spouse. What do you naturally gravitate toward? Let it flow – and the rest will come easily. There’s no sense in blacklisting one topic just so you can sit there racking your brains for other things to talk about. Trust me, the topic of conversation wasn’t always our kids and it won’t stay that way forever, either. Just like your relationship grows and changes, so will your conversation.
5.) Double up!
Ever notice how your time spent with friends kind of dwindles once you become a parent? It’s hard to squeeze in friend time when you’re juggling work, family time and date night. So – double up! A double date is a great way to maximize your time and nourish your friendships. You don’t have to do it all the time, but on occasion it’s nice to get together with a few friends and catch up over a good meal. One of our closest “couple” friends have two kids the same age as Jack and Charlie. So we get all of them in one place and split the cost of the sitter. Yes, she charges more for watching two toddlers and two babies (which she should, bless her heart!!) but when we split the cost it ends up a better deal. The kids have a blast playing together and there’s only one person to check in with so it keeps us from constantly checking our phones and sending multiple texts to different places.