Before Baby E, we, like 99% of the other non-parents out there, went out on a pretty regular basis. Planned, impromptu, we were game for just about anything that involved good food, beer, wine, and for myself, dancing. Jer, not such a fan of dancing, but always willing to belly up to the bar while I showed off my nonexistent skills to the tunes of various cover bands.
Then we had E. Glorious, wonderful, amazing, and exhausting E. For the first 6 months I couldn’t fathom going out as any moment I had to grab a snooze was a precious one. Instead E would join us for lunch or an early dinner. Not so much a date night as a meal we didn’t have to cook or clean up after.
When you have children it becomes abundantly clear that you have to really make an effort to spend time as a couple, as yourselves, and not as mama and dada. And if not, risk losing your relationship outside of parenting.
Once we hit the point (around 10 months) when E was sleeping for 8 hours at a go at night, we began to slowly integrate the idea of date night into our weekly repertoire. Jer being in the military means we often live far from our families and so lose the built in babysitters that grandparents and extended family can be. Adding paying a babysitter to even an on the cheap night (read apps and a couple drinks) makes it a pricey endeavor. Since we are focused on staying on track budget wise, this meant getting creative with making Friday night a regular date night that doesn’t often involve leaving the house. Aside from the normal Netflix, RedBox, etc movie night options, here are some tips for making an at home date night special:
- Bring the Wine List Home: If you are a wine lover, find a wine club like The Wall Street Journal’s Wine Club that will send you 15 or so bottles of amazing wines from around the world for less than $80 every three months. Once a week, pop a delicious bottle and pair with some great take out or a favorite dish.
- Make it a point to make it special: Regardless of what’s on the menu you can make it feel like more than just another night. A few candles and music can create a lovely ambiance for an at home date night. If you’re not a hoarder of iTunes, no problem, Pandora has done the work for you, just name your favorite artist, song, or genre and they’ll custom create a station for you. Just tell them what songs you like or don’t like and Pandora will adjust accordingly, for free from your Smartphone or computer. We love our Sonos wireless wi-fi system that lets us put the music in any room we choose.
- Get Social: Turn date night into a dinner party with friends. Check out Fifteen Spatulas for inspired and delicious recipes. If they’ve got kids too, offer to set up the Pack n Play in a quiet area for their little ones.
- Give Yourself Permission: I live by the 80/20 rule. If 80% of the time you’re eating “clean” and living a healthy lifestyle, then 20% of the time, or once a week, throw caution to the wind and have your Brie and eat it too. Indulge all your senses *wink, wink* on date night.
- Leave the Kids Out of the Conversation: Date night is about you as a couple, your relationship outside of parenthood. Leave the conversations about the kids for another time and focus on you as the unique individuals you are and the special relationship you have as husband and wife, partners, etc. Conversation is an art. Make it a point to save interesting articles you’ve read or things you’ve been contemplating to avoid the rut of talking about daily life (unless of course your daily life is super interesting, unlike mine)
And, on those wonderful occasions when you can get out for a date night, enjoy every last minute of it.