One of the greatest hurdles couples with small children face is carving out couple time. Amongst the many responsibilities of daily life, date night (like sex) definitely takes the back burner. Like many of you, I too, have not always prioritized date night. In my own experience, here are the three main barriers we faced as a couple:
A very unwelcome yet familiar feeling for many parents is guilt. My spouse and I knew that our work hours took away quality time spent with our kids. We did not always give ourselves permission to go out on our own. We would feel guilty for leaving the kids with a sitter. Guilt took the reigns and we often stayed home.
Between caretaking two little ones, work and managing our home, we often found ourselves too tired to date. To find a sitter, plan the date, arrange for the kids dinner plans, get showered, dressed and go… we just didn’t have the energy to put forth.
One night, we decided to go out to dinner and then to Barnes and Noble. We both wanted a simple meal and time to peruse books without the disruptions that we would experience when our kids were in tow. We chose a simple BYOB restaurant. Our time out totaled, maybe 4.5 hours on a Saturday night. As it turned out, we spent more money paying our sitter than we did out on our date. Disturbed by this, I put the brakes on date night for quite a while.
We’ve recently created a solution that is free, absolves us of guilt and matches our energy levels. I thought I’d share our solution in the hope that it helps you think outside the box when it comes to your date nights. We call it the “Pizza Play Date”.
FREE Childcare: We’ve teamed up with another couple that we know well who also have small children. We offer childcare in exchange for date night. It looks like this: My spouse and I drop our kids off in their home and our kids have a play date with their kids while we go out on our date. Two weeks later, they drop their kids off at our house and go off to do their thing. Guaranteed date night, free childcare.
Reasonable Hour: Along with our friends, we’ve decided to date during “happy hour”. This better matches our energy level instead of trying to force ourselves to be out late when we know the kids will be up early the next day. Plus happy hour offers appetizers and drinks at reduced prices that better matches our budget. Now that the weather is warmer, we can add a walk in the park or watch the sunset before or after our meal. Or, we may decide to return to our kid-free home for some adult play.
Zero Guilt: Our kids love date night! They get playtime with their friends and stay up a little later than usual. It’s their “Pizza Playdate” and it feels special to them. Their enthusiasm erases all guilt. I knew I was on the right track when both of my kids excitedly asked me, “Mom, when is your next date night?”
Try to create dates that honor your circumstances. Date night should feel good. If you feel more stressed than relaxed, re-examine how you plan it. Consider thinking outside the box to make it meet all of your needs, including your children’s.
In between our date nights, we plan to continue our at-home dating for consistent quality time together.