Last Saturday, Ben and I were getting ready to go out to dinner just the two of us. Hair done. Makeup on. Out of the sweatpants. The whole deal.
As we were getting ready to go, our 7-year-old Cohen took a good, long look at me and asked, “Mama, why are you and Dad going on a date? Isn’t that something you do before you’re married?”
I smiled and responded, “Yes, but dating is even more important after you’re married. It’s one thing to fall in love; it’s another thing to stay in it.” Satisfied with my response, he ran off to play with his brothers, but the conversation stuck with me.
As busy parents, it’s so easy for date night—quality one-on-one time with our spouses—to get pushed aside in lieu of baseball practice, dirty dishes, dwindling finances, and pure exhaustion. I get it. Sometimes Ben and I can go weeks without having a significant conversation about something other than survival. However, dating our spouse is essential to staying connected in marriage, loving the other person, and being on the same parenting team.
Because we have what feels like a thousand kids (and growing), we’ve had to get creative with how we do date night. Here are a few ideas that have worked for us, and hopefully you’ll find one or two you can work into your date-night rituals.
- Create a dating budget.
Ben and I know that if we don’t create space in it at the beginning of the month for a night out, we won’t do it. So set aside the money, and then use it. Even if you have to throw spare change in a jar and scrape up enough for coffee together, do it.
- Schedule time together.
We often want dating and intimacy to be organic and spontaneous, but as two busy parents, it just isn’t going to happen if you don’t put it on the calendar. (Side note: Don’t make dating just “one more thing.” Consider crossing something off your calendar too.)
- Capitalize on holidays and birthdays.
Include restaurant gift cards on your birthday and Christmas wish lists for parents and family. That way, you can minimize the cost of dating and have fewer barriers to GET OUT THERE.
- Find childcare alternatives.
Hiring a babysitter is usually our biggest date-night expense. However, we’ve found a few ways around it:
Swap date-night childcare with friends or family members.
Trade a free home-cooked meal and laundry service with a poor college student.
Say “Yes!” when people offer to babysit for free.
Always schedule a date night when Grandma is in town. You get a night out, and she gets alone time with grandkids…and apparently that’s an even trade.
Word of caution: Make sure the “free babysitting” terms of your swap is clear from the initial ask. Don’t pull a bait-and-switch on unsuspecting friends or family.
- Get creative with stay-in date nights.
Currently, the stay-in date night is our go-to way to connect. The premise is simple:
Get the kids in bed.
Order food in (or throw a frozen pizza in the oven).
Spend time together.
Our ideal stay-in ate usually includes Thai food, non-kid-related conversation, and a movie. But that’s us! Get creative, and find what works for you.
Republished with permission from Life in Blue blog. http://sarahewestfall.com/