The power behind date nights

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About Tsh

Tsh is the founder of this blog and lives in Bend, Oregon with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

This post was first published on June 27, 2011, and it’s every bit as true as it was then. In fact, it’s been good for me to reread it.

I admit: It was a glorious, beautiful thing we had going on in Austin. We lived near grandparents for the first time in years, and they knew as well as we did that it wouldn’t last forever. Because of this, they were willing to watch the kids regularly so that Kyle and I could have Date Nights.

Oh, so sacrificial were they as they spent time spraying the kids with the backyard water hose, making more cupcakes than any one family could possibly eat, sewing purses and doll dresses, and watching Saturday morning cartoons. Woe to them that they got to feed our kids things they never get to eat with Boring Ol’ Parents, and that they ate up story time, funny one-liners, and slobbery kisses.

It was rough for the grandparents.

Yep, they watched our three kids every other Friday night for more than a year. Well, it was two kids at first, but then Finn came along. And once he started sleeping through the night, he joined his big brother and sister and got to spend the night at Hot Rod and Nana’s.

That’s right. We picked up the kids by lunchtime Saturday. Glorious, indeed.

But we’re no strangers to Date Nights. We enjoyed them years ago, when it was just Tate and my parents watched her, and then later when we lived in the Middle East, we tag-teamed with neighbors as we watched each other’s kids. Every Thursday, we’d switch off — one family would watch all the kids while the other couple went on a date; the roles would switch the following week.

Date Nights are essential to our marriage and our sanity.

We get to complete sentences.

Two weeks eke by, believe it or not. By the time they roll around, we are desperate to talk to each other. Sure, we’ve got the evenings after the kids are in bed, but those conversations aren’t as fun. We’re tired.

When we go on a date, we enjoy getting into real conversations, ones that aren’t interrupted every ten seconds by, “Guess what I saw today?” or “Help me tie shoes, please.”

Typically, we say goodbye to the kids, climb into the car, drive out, and enjoy the silence for about a minute. Then, when we’re ready, one of us looks at the other and says, “Hi. How have you been?”


One of our first outings after Tate was born, more than six years ago now. Man, we look tired.

We get to be people other than parents.

We like movies that don’t involve finding that incessant Map. We like to play cards, drink wine and beer, and not cut up each other’s food. We also like to stay up later than 8 p.m.

We purposely narrow down our restaurant choice by its difficulty in taking children. The more difficult, the higher it is on our Date Night list.

We get to talk about important stuff.

There are many times when we goof off, laugh, and talk about shallow things. But Date Nights are some of the best times to ask each other the tough things we’ve been meaning to bring up, or to plan future stuff uninterruptedly.

This is our best time to bring up issues that aren’t emergencies, but have been on our minds and need a good talking through.

We remember that we like each other.

It’s all too easy to go day after day and only talk about the basics. Did you sign Tate’s field trip permission slip? We need to get butter at the grocery store. Would you please wash some towels when you get a chance? We’re out.

And this all too easily escalates into living like roommates. We’ve forgotten how to talk to each other romantically, even as friends sometimes.

Regular dates rekindle our relationship long before the spark goes out.


Our 8th anniversary

How to go on dates:

Have you forgotten how to date your spouse? Do whatever you can to get back in the routine — they’re terribly important. Really.

If you can’t afford a babysitter (we can’t), find a couple to tag team. We’re hoping to find this in Bend as soon as possible. I’ve even heard of a whole group of families that do this, so that yes, it’s utter chaos for a few hours with ten or so kids under one roof, but you get to go on a date for five out of six weeks. A good trade-off, I say.

Avoid movies, if you don’t go out often. Do things that allow you to talk and reconnect, not stare at a screen together.

Have fun. Remember what it was like to do things just for fun, because you like each other’s company. Go bowling or miniature golfing with the other college students on dates.

Go cheap. Dates don’t have to break the bank. Kyle and I would often use a Groupon or our Entertainment Passbook to have dinner, then get coffee at a local coffee shop and play a game. We kept our go-to games in the car at all times.

Get dressed up, just for fun. Every now and then, break out the dress shoes and skirt, for no real reason other than feeling date-ish. It’s fun to look nice for your spouse.

What’s your favorite Date Night with your spouse?

Join the Conversation

Comments

  1. I’m with you – oh so rare and wonderful when you’re in the same town (let alone continent!) as your parents – and in our case, siblings – for free child-minding and slumber parties. We just did this last night and felt absolutely indulgent. Thx for reminding me how necessary date nights (and overnights) are… as of now, I don’t feel guilty at all. ;-)

  2. Date nights saved our marriage. We only go out once a month, but we get to snatch mini dates here and there, because we have a couple of older children. It is so good to have that time just to us. There are times when things aren’t going well and we don’t feel like going, but we do it anyway.

    Did you move to Bend? It’s so beautiful in this part of the country. I hope you enjoy!

  3. We have the luxury where we live overseas that someone to watch the kiddos is very inexpensive. I have to admit we’ve gotten lazy about scheduling our date nights. Will get one scheduling this week right now. You’re right – the are SO important!

  4. I totally know that moment when you look at each other and say “hi, how are ya?” We need to make this more of a priority – thanks for the reminder!

  5. We don’t have kids, but it’s vital for us to go on date nights, too. It’s easy to slip into the roommate mode, especially if you have jobs that demand most of your time and attention (we’re both high school teachers who spend a lot of time mentoring kids outside the classroom). Date nights are vital to a vibrant marriage.

  6. This is really cute…. specially the pictures. Fortunately date nights are something very easy for me as I do not yet have children. Though sometimes I feel like I do!

  7. Absolutely agree! We have at least one night a week for date night – my son’s autistic and has a social skills group and the therapist asked if she could keep our daughter with him too – so both kids are gone and we do a quick date. It’s only an hour and a half so we eat at quick places, but it’s OUR short time together. We try to plan an anniversary trip together every year- this year we’re going to be gone five days :) I also travel with my hubby often on his business trips. We’ve been able to use parents occasionally, but they aren’t always available. We’ve been fortunate enough to find a newlywed couple who stay at our house and take care of our kids – driving to and from school and activities. We’ve done a variety of things to get away but our kids don’t feel upset we’re gone – they LOVE it- one time got two college girls from church to spend the night with the kids and they split the money we paid them. The kids enjoy it and we do too. We all feel happy to be back together and enjoy each other – and I LOVE traveling with my hubby :)

    Becky B.
    http://www.organizingmadefun.com
    Organizing Made Fun

  8. my parents took our kids overnight for our first night away since we became parents 3 1/2 years ago. Lord, we needed it!

    i know we need to scam ways to make this happen regularly–at least a few hours at a time. we can’t just be Mom and Dad all the time. good reminders.

  9. Yay for date nights! My parents just moved to the same city to be near their grand kids and have proposed weekly Saturday night babysitting. Woo hoo!! We have two-year-old twins and a seven-year-old, and I can count on one hand the number of real dates we’ve had in the last three years. I just bought some dresses online; I am so excited to date my husband again!

  10. We are fortunate to live near both sets of grandparents! My in-laws usually watch the kiddos Wed. nights when we go to mid-week bible study, and my mom will usually watch the kids a couple times a month for us to go on date nights. Yeah for datenights!

    My favorite dates are when my hubby arranges them! (he picks the activity, arranges childcare for the kids, etc.). It doesn’t happen all the time…but it is especially nice when he does (kinda like back when we first started courting!)

    My hubby recently surprised me by making arrangements for the kids and invited me on a date to the opening of Turtle Reef at Sea World (we have season passes)! We usually enjoy going as a family, but it was really sweet for just the two of us to go and have fun (and ride the roller coaster for once). I wrote a bit about it on a recent post:
    http://heartandhaven.com/2011/06/20/turtles-christmas-and-cards-all-in-one-weekend/

  11. avatar
    Marcia (123 blog) says:

    We have date afternoons these days http://www.the123blog.com/2011/06/date-afternoons-next-best-thing.html and we either go run lots of non kid-friendly errands and then reward ourselves with a coffee and pastry (yum!) or we go eat at a nice place that is also non kid-friendly and talk for hours :)

    The 2nd option is happening on Sat for us and I can’t wait :)

  12. avatar
    Melissa L. says:

    My husband has worked 5 nights a week for the past 6 years – overnights, like 9-9. We’ve got one day a week – Sunday – that has to be our “everything day”. We don’t live near grandparents and our friends work day jobs so no one wants to watch kids on Sunday night; they’re recovering from their busy weekends and getting ready for the start of their work week. Sure, my husband is home Saturday night but he’s usually brain dead and I’ve gone 6 straight days with the kids and sleep is way more attractive then going out. Do any of you have a similar situation?

    • My boyfriend is a cop and works 10pm to 7am 4 days a week. He has 2 days off, first is usually him trying to get on schedule, then the second day is usually our date night. It is busy, because I am a military officer. We aren’t married, and don’t have kids, but we constantly make the effort to either go out or stay in. I use groupons a lot. I mean a lot, to do fun stuff. We usually alternate what we do, I cook dinner, we go to a ball game, the opera, or out to dinner even. It is a tough lifestyle, but he is always grateful of my crazy planning, because lets face it, he wouldn’t have done all of those things unless I made the plans!

    • I’m not in this situation, but what about day dates? I’m guessing your husband sleeps during the day, so what about a brunch date just after he’s gotten home from work (kind of the equivalent to a dinner date for regular 8-5 workers). You would still have to get a sitter, but high school students need cash in the summer… Just an idea.

    • avatar
      sam james says:

      I too have the same problem. My parents live inn the same town as us but as my mom said when our first came along I am not a babysitter so it better be an emergency. Can you say strained relationship. And we don’t have anyone else to call on. So no date nights for us. Ever. We woulld like to but can’t. So we don’t. It makes me depressed. But what can you do.

    • avatar
      Lisa Johnson says:

      Yes! I work differing shifts all week. One day I might work at 7 am-3pm , the next I could work 3pm-8am. Sometimes it’s a short sift 3pm-9pm and I work anywhere from 6-7 days a week. My husband works on a farm and has to go in in the morning for milking and chores, has the afternoon off then goes back in for evening milking and chores.

  13. avatar
    Michele says:

    I’m so glad you already know the importance of regular date nights. I will promote the importance of it whenever the subject comes up. The routines of life can really suck it out of the relationship if you don’t make time for each other and remember why you got together in the first place. It’s so obvious when you’re out doing it how important that time is for both of you as a couple. Good reminder. In case you haven’t been told lately – You’re smaaaaaht. :-)

  14. “remember that you like each other”.

    amen! we went on a vacation last fall and, after a rough rough year as a family, i remembered that i actually like my husband. he is not just a roommate and business partner, but a wonderful friend and husband!

  15. avatar
    Beetnik Mama says:

    Well, I love the idea of a babysitting co-op with neighbors or friends, but how do the logistics work? The kids stay up until you come home to get them? The sitter family puts them to bed . . . somewhere? . . . in their home, and then you take the kids home asleep? Is this realistic for young toddlers?

    • We’ve done it both ways, where the kids stay up until you come get them or the sitter family puts them to bed at the same time they put their own kids to bed. It actually worked best to put them to bed while we were gone when our 3 were younger, ours would sort of wake up on the way out to the car, but would easily go back to sleep in the car and then their own beds. Some kids may not do that, but you’d never know until you try! Now that they are a bit older, if we trade with friends it’s usually with a family that the kids are friends with, as well, so we may choose to go out a bit earlier and come pick them up about bedtime. Don’t be afraid to try different options to see what works best!

      • We swap date nights once a month with our friends. Our logistics vary based on what kind of date we’re having. If we are staying out late, then we have them put our 2-year-old to bed at their house. She usually wakes up when we put her in the car, but she’s always gone right back to sleep when we get home (it’s only a 2-3 minute drive between houses). If we’re going to be out only sort of late, say 9 or 9:30, we just have them keep her up. Our friends have three kids – 14 months, 4 years and 6 years. The 14-month old always goes to bed at our house because his bedtime is 7:30. He sleeps in our pack n’ play and the older kids sleep in our guest bed together when their parents will be out late. We take our daughter’s sleeping bag to their house if she’s going to be going to bed there, because they don’t have any extra beds and she’s too big for a pack n’ play now.

  16. Oh I love date night! I make sure to get all dressed up, one for my husband who appreciates the extra thought and time I put in to “us” and two for my children. I want them to see how special and important the relationship is between mommy and daddy. So important, mommy wears clothes she doesn’t normally wear and maybe even heels {lol}.

  17. I feel the same way. We used to live about an hour from my parents and went once a month on dates. Now we snatch one when they are visiting or like now my son is up there for a week or two. It is so rare and I am just uncomfortable paying someone I don’t know. ;) We need to do something so we can do this once a month again. Thanks for the reminder of how important it is.

  18. “We remember that we like each other.”

    So true for me. Particularly in the first few months with a newborn and the wakeful nights.

    Just like you, I have recently moved to a new city and am struggling to find a babysitter. We have a bit of budget for it but it hasn’t been easy. Everyone we have met raves about their babysitters but the sitters are very busy. No room for the us, the new kids.

    We want to do a swap but… our toddler has a very challenging (read: 1 hour+) bed time routine. I feel a bit awkward swapping an evening of me sitting at a new friend’s place reading a book for an evening at my place, dealing with a wide awake toddler. We’re hoping that by the fall he’s going down a bit easier and we’re comfortable swapping date nights with our new friends.

  19. Great article. We are going on a full day date to celebrate our 9th wedding anniversary on Wednesday. It’s funny when we first leave them it is always a little awkward as if we forgot them somewhere but I get over it quickly. We too know how it is to not have family around, we do now. Not sure how long it will last but we are enjoying it. Only downside is we have one who wants to spend the night with grandparents and one who only wants to sleep in her own bed. We fix that by telling her we are going out of town, even if we aren’t.

  20. I agree wholeheartedly. My husband and I have a date night each week, and it just makes all the difference. Every other week, we use our date night to go visit another couple with and play a game. After our baby daughter was born, we found that it was difficult for us to build friendships with other couples. Our baby goes to bed at 7, so after that, we’re pretty stuck at home (along with every other couple with kids). Using every-other date night to go build a relationship with another couple has really helped us to build friendships TOGETHER. That’s been really helpful.

    On the off week, we go out just the 2 of us. We do simple, inexpensive things, but it’s really a meaningful time. We love to eat dumplings (we live in Asia), so we often do that. We also love taking long walks. It’s amazing how refreshing it is to just walk around holding hands. :)

    One suggestion is to make “dates” a line-item in your monthly budget. We have found that putting money towards something helps us ascribe value to it. It also ensures that we use that money and go on dates! It’s nice to have money specifically designated for dates…even if it’s not that much money. It’s still fun to be able to spend money on ourselves and not feel guilty!

  21. A few years ago we started scheduling weekly lunch dates while the kids were at once a week co-op school. Now that the kids are Jr. High aged, we leave them alone while we go out for afternoon coffee. They get a chip on their shoulder if we go out for dinner often without taking them, but coffee dates don’t bother them at all.

    Our dates help us reconnect and also somehow help us to put more effort into our relationship the rest of the week too.

  22. We got in the habit of date nights last year and now we schedule time with each other every week. Even if it’s just playing a board game after our daughter goes to bed. One hour of time as a couple – doing anything except parenting, working, housekeeping, etc. – has totally changed our marriage. We were definitely in roommate mode after our daughter was born and date nights pulled us out! I see the man I married when I look at my husband a lot more often now, not the guy who forgot to empty the dishwasher, take out the trash, etc.
    My fav dates over the past year +: playing Minute To Win it-style games in our living room, couples massage, s’mores in the backyard, watching fireworks alone on the 4th of July, flea market, baking a cheesecake together.

  23. I agree wholeheartedly. My husband and I enjoy a weekly date night, as well.

    We like to do simple, cheap things like take walks or go eat dumplings (we live in Asia). It’s amazing how refreshing it is to just walk around and hold hands. :)

    Another thing we do sometimes is go visit another couple and play a game all together. We have found that this is a great way for us to make friends with other couples, as it is difficult to be able to get together when all your kids go to bed at 7pm!

    We also have “dates” as a line item in our budget. This allows us to have special money designated for our dates. I think this helps us ascribe value to our dates and also allows us to be able to spend money on a date guilt-free!

    • Ditto on date night being a line-item in our budget. If we didn’t do that, there would never be any money for dates! And dates are important, so they deserve to be funded – even if it’s a small amount.

      • Yep — it’s in our budget, too. Even on the months where finances are tight, even ice cream out or a coffee date is important. Heck, a board game after the kids are asleep. Free!

  24. I’m a big fan of date nights too! :) I spent a year posting a new dating idea each week here:

    http://www.wonderwomanwannabe.com/p/re-ignite-date-night.html

    My favorite is an over-night date at a Bed and Breakfast. Sometimes you just need a whole 24 hours to relax, recharge and re-connect together. :)

  25. big fan of date nights! we can’t afford a babysitter, my parents live too far away, and my in-laws simply won’t babysit (so sad for my kids).

    but we still get date nights once a month for the “school months” through a date night co-op at our church. It’s open to all married couples in the church. You pay $20 for 10 dates through out the year (no nights in June and July), you have to volunteer to watch children for two of those nights. The kids are broken down into same age groups and have snack, a bible story, video, and gym time. The parents get 4 glorious hours out and about knowing their kids are in a safe environment having fun. Teenagers are helpers to the adults and earn “money” that goes towards their mission trips and church youth camps. we love it and without it we would never have a regular date night! it’s a great thing to get started at any church!

    • What a great idea! I’ve thought about doing something like that at our church but hadn’t considered the money aspect, what a great incentive for the teens to help out and raise mission support at the same time.

  26. We’ve been trying to find creative and budget friendly “date night” ideas. Cooking together and going window shopping has been a favorite of ours! I need to check into Groupon!

  27. Well I have to say I CRIED MY EYES OUT as I read this! I have been DESPERATE for the last 3 YEARS to start ‘dating’ my husband! We have had unfortunately gone through stages of having ‘no’ extra money even to spend time away, and just NO ONE willing to babysit that would be quite responsible-we have 5 kids! Our oldest is now 16, then 9, 8, 4 and 2. We do NOT have grandparents willing to step up to the plate and we find ourselves surrounded by very selfish people who couldn’t care less how bad we need a break! We would have to find a total stranger and pay them to watch our kids and so that just wouldn’t work out! Yes, our son is 16 now BUT our other children view him as ‘brother to fight with, annoy and simply not listen to!’ And then we get into the behavior of our kids-which is just ONE good reason as parents we would LOVE these date nights! We do NOT get to talk beyond the everyday-and it is very depressing!! maybe one day!? I feel it is the most important thing a couple with kids can do! And we might get out for 2-3 hours with each other-2-3 times a YEAR!!!!!!! :(

    • Just do it! Maybe that’s what your family needs is for everyone to realize that big brother is in charge. One night, choose two movies, gather pillows and blankets, pop some popcorn, and put on some movies and require ONLY that the children are alive when you get home. Do it late so they are all tired enough to sit there or fall asleep. I remember tending my younger brothers and sisters and no one would do what I said for the life of them, but we all survived (and like each other).

    • Agreed. It sounds like some of it may be your expectations. Go out for A walk or dessert and it the kids are still alive when you get home, success! Consider rewarding them with a small treat (ice cream bars?) if they behave for the oldest one

      • Yes! When I was 12, my parents would leave me to watch my younger brother, but they “paid” both of us. I think it was like $.25 and hour, but somehow that made it seem like a BIG DEAL for both of us and we would even put ourselves to bed! =)

  28. Oh, one of my favourite subjects!

    My dh and I are blessed to now have two older children who can babysit (17 and 13) our other five children. We also have grandparents very close by for back up. Several years ago, we started a weekly date that has become the highlight of our week. We love it because it is practical, inexpensive and easily maintained since our family all knows how important it is to us. I would say that we miss less than 5 dates each year.

    Each Saturday, dh and I (and any babies who are too young to be left at home) take off early for our year-round Farmer’s Market. We buy most of our weekly food here. Then, we go to our favourite crunchy-granola cafe for breakfast. We get coffee and a muffin/scone. The whole bill amounts to about $11 after tax and tip. After that, we finish up the rest of our weekly errands and head home by lunchtime.

    It is funny to think that running errands together could be a date, but there are loads of benefits. It gives us several protected hours together and allows both of us to have an equal part in the spending of our money. It is hard to question where the grocery money has gone if both of us are there making the choices. It saves us money on gas over my running the errands during the week in the big van, because we can take the little car. It is a time saver because without a lot of little ones in tow, we can work quicker (and the kids aren’t dreadfully bored).

    When you have 7 children, taking one little baby along is like going out alone for other couples. We find that until a baby is old enough to interrupt conversations, we can enjoy our time together better when the baby comes along. This saves me from stressing out about how he/she is doing at home and rushing too much to finish our date. (And saves us from complaining phone calls from the older kids!)

    We love, love, love our date morning.

  29. It’s been way too long since my husband and I went out for a real date (over a year!). I’ve been thinking about this and how important it is and have already been trying to come up with ways to make this happen more often than once a year! Great timing.

  30. We need to do this more often, we go on dates every few months. When we do they are amazing, and so refreshing. We had our baby soon after getting married, so it’s nice to get a reminder that our marriage is not just about the baby but, oh yeah, because we love each other like crazy!

    Last time we watched a movie, which we hesitated to do with our only 3 hours without our son, but we loved the movie, and was nice to enjoy it together and talk about it afterwards. Our favourite thing to do is go out to a nice restaurant and eat something fancy. I’ve been looking forward to the next time, I want to wear a dress and high heels and makeup (haven’t worn heels in years)!

    We also like talking about our future plans on these occasions, and appreciating where we’re at right now.

  31. Our favorite date nights are going to a local bar to hear Mat Kearney when he’s in town. This year, though, are best date was our anniversary. We put on our wedding clothes, veil and all, and had a picnic on the grounds of the Art Museum in front of a large fountain in front of a century-old mansion. Picture Mr. Darcy’s house and property. It was glorious and so romantic.

  32. honestly, just getting dinner with my husband is the best – for all the reasons you outlined above!

  33. We have struggled to do date nights, as we do not have family nearby and cannot afford a babysitter regularly. So, instead, we now spend 5 to 15 minutes every night (after our toddler is in bed) re-connecting. Sometimes we drink a cup of tea together, or massage each other, or just chat. Sometimes we just sit together. The one rule is we can’t talk about parenting problems or problems in our relationship. It’s just a time to re-connect. It has been a life-saver for us. We still have to work through conflicts in our relationship, but it’s become easier now that we have a daily checkin time.

  34. avatar
    Sharon W says:

    My husband and I don’t trust anyone to stay with our daughter, other than my mom. She comes over to give me a break a few times a month, but my husband and I haven’t made date night much of a priority. Roomates would be a great way to describe how I feel about our relationship right now. Which is not the view I want to have of my husband. Thanks for the push to make date nights more of a priority. After reading through the comments, I’m thinking even if we just spent some time together at home after our daughter went to sleep, that would make a big difference.

    • Yes! We’ve been doing date nights since our daughter was 18 months (she’s 3 now) and 90 percent of those were on a Saturday night after she went to bed. Rather than turn on TV, we just do something fun together – play a game, cook dessert, look through old yearbooks, etc. It has made an incredible difference.

  35. Hmm. “Date nights are essential to our marriage and sanity.” In which case I am glad you can enjoy them on a regular basis. If they were essential for every marriage then I am afraid we would be sunk. I am in the same position as Melanie . In the almost 9 years since my oldest was born we have had a total of 3 date nights (I’m not counting the time my husband spent with me in the labour room here as I don’t think it qualifies). Only one set of grandparents still living and with whom it would be quite unsafe, other family members too busy or in a different country, church folk not interested in ‘trading’ sitting because they already have their own family members to babysit for them. We would have to hire a professional sitter from an agency which would not be a good solution for our children. Besides which an agency sitter would cost over £100 . I would love the chance of a date night with my husband – or even better a morning spent browsing second hand book shops. Anything really. We have got used to the idea of not having them now (almost). Our boys go to bed at an early hour and we have no television, so we are at least able to talk alone most nights. But if I truly believed they were an essential to a successful marriage then I would feel under a tremendous pressure and very hard done by!

  36. We have five kids 8 and younger so getting a babysitter is getting harder and much more costly! When we can’t swing paying someone to come, we have ‘at home date nights’ after kids go to bed, I get the kitchen set nicely with a table for two and my hubby will run and get take out and then we’ll share a late dinner after dark and get some face time that way. Once we were too tired for a late night so we put a movie on for the kids (with no TV, a movie on the laptop sure keeps their attention since they aren’t used to it!) and had dinner at regular dinner time – it worked great!

    I also echo your tip to use groupon or livingsocial. Last week I scored a voucher for one of our favorite restaurants for 50% off. I even called my mom to have her buy one for us too so we’ve got two prepaid dinner dates tucked away!

  37. We luckily live only about 8 miles from my husband’s sister, and her present to me at my baby shower was to watch Eleanor once a month so that we can have a date! It’s been so great. We also have great-grandparents not too far away, so occasionally they watch her too, and we get to sneak in a 2nd date that month! But oh, it would be amazing to have somewhere to leave the kiddo overnight. A whole night of uninterrupted sleep sounds blissful…

  38. We, too, have had seasons of plenty and seasons of scarcity when it comes to date nights. When money or sitters were in short supply, my husband and I had many “at home” dates. We would feed the kids an early (and easy) dinner and tuck them into bed a bit earlier than normal. We would then have dinner for just the two of us. Sometimes, it was our favorite pizza and a rental movie or maybe a fancier dinner that we cooked together. The most important thing was that it was intentional time spent together focusing on us. Even now that our kids are older (14,12,9), we still do this occasionally and they respect that it is our time together and they need to find something to occupy themselves in their own rooms.

    • Great idea! I’ve done this before as well. A few years ago (when our kids were 1 & 2), I invited my husband on a Valentine’s date . I sent him a formal email requesting that he put the kids to bed by a certain time, and meet me back downstairs by eight for our date. (in the future, I’d probably change invite to being a card – whether store bought or homemade)

      I planned a really nice meal to make, candle-lit dinner by the fireplace. I bought a romantic Tuscon-themed cd to play during dinner, bought an inexpensive bouquet of flowers for the centerpiece. I set the table fancy like a 5 -star restaurant with nice table cloth, proper table settings, etc. I even moved all the “kid gear” to the garage temporarily for the night, hehe. (I didn’t want to have a “fancy” dinner while staring at the baby swing! lol)

      In my invite email, I requested that hubby be in charge of the dessert. He baked a heart-shaped cake w/pink frosting. It was very cute.

      One of the more memorable dates I’ve ever had! I had a lot of fun just planning it the days before Valentine’s Day!

  39. Two years ago our church started a once-per-month “Parents Night Out” – 630-930pm the first Friday night of the month. Parents who participant must “work” as chaperones one evening per year. The other requirement is that they do something TOGETHER, not individually or girls night out, etc. The kids sing songs, make a craft, play games, listen to stories and end watching a movie (usually Veggie Tales – the little ones are put down for ‘bedtime’ on floor mats in a dim room at that time). Ages 6 weeks to 12 years. Older siblings can come as “assistants.” This might be something to suggest/start through your children’s ministry at your church/place of worship or through a community center in the area for those of you who are despirate for a date night.

    We don’t have family within a 3 1/2 hour drive and, while we were fortunate to have a couple of trustworthy teenagers available, the funds haven’t always been available. This has been a God-send for us – 11 dates a year even if it’s just a walk in the park or an ice cream cone at DQ. We also do at-home date nights once a week – watching a moive, playing a game, putting together a puzzle or having a ‘bonfire’ in the back yard are all favorites for us.

    I think the important piece here is having time for real conversation – not just roommate conversation. It doesn’t matter if it’s a real “date” or not!

    Great post!
    Lea

  40. avatar
    Samantha says:

    We have regular date nights thanks to a babysitting co-op I helped form with other moms in our local mother’s club. It might not be an approach for everyone here, but it’s worked great for us – if you’re interested, check out the book “Smart Mom’s Baby-sitting Co-op Handbook.” It lays out everything on how it works, how to set one up, etc. Essentially, it’s based on a point system where you earn points for sitting other kids in the co-op and then you use those points to have your kids watched by another mom in the co-op. For date nights, our two kiddos are usually asleep or just about, so we have the sitter come over to our house til we get back.

    And with that, I need to go request a sitter for this Saturday night’s date night! Thanks for the reminder!

  41. We have found we need a date night at least once every two weeks. If we go longer than that, we don’t know each other anymore. That is our phrase we say, “I don’t know you anymore.” What it really means is, “Can we get a babysitter?”

  42. Going back to places we used to go pre-children. Just a simple dinner at McDonald’s where we combine our french fries, and eat them together, is enough. :)

  43. Thanks so much for a great little post! Happy to share this with my clients!

  44. I *live* for date nights. We took one last night after the kids and I were gone all last week. Couples need that time to reconnect.

  45. avatar
    Bonnie Jean says:

    Right now I would not even want a date night. Nights totally alone for weeks on end would be wonderful. I love my children but I am very angry at my husband. No one ever, ever helps. I realized this is a blended family… his kids are grown and gone (grown before I came on the scene). Mine are teenagers. I love them but one of them is in the “I am 18 and I know everything and you are worthless mom because you don’t work and make money to give me.” The youngest is still nice. He is 16 though and I worry he will go the way of his brother. The older is just like his father, and that is why I divorced him… selfish to the core and extremely abusive. Not to mention he was a drug addict and alcoholic and spent all of our money so we almost lost everything. My current husband was nice while we dated and when we first got married, but when times got harder economically it is like he got lazy. Now he is fat and disgusts me, he was 6’4″ and 230 lbs. and worked out. Now he is more than 360 and half of his clothes do not fit. He grosses me out. I am 5’6″ and 115 lbs. I have weighed this all of my life except when I was pregnant. I try hard to take care of myself the best that I can despite physical obstacles from being beaten and stabbed about 30 times 8 years ago. I look and feel the same as I did in high school except my hair is gray. I am a little slower and cannot do everything I once did, but he is like a lump in a chair. When he gets home from work, he watches TV and falls asleep. He does nothing around the house except mow the lawn when the grass is knee high. I can’t even stand to watch what he watches on TV. It is like he is not the man I married. It is like he pretended to be something he was not just to “get me”. I feel angry and betrayed. How do you get to where you want to go out on a date with someone you are ashamed to be seen with. It wouldn’t be so bad if he wore decent clothes that fit and put a little effort into his looks. (And he is a phys.ed. and health teacher !!!) Everyone gains a little weight as they grow older… he gained fifty pounds in the first year we were together. If it were muscle it wouldn’t be so bad… but more than 130 pounds … and he doesn’t even try to eat better or exercise. Aside from the fact that he grosses me out, he is killing himself. I am angry on so many levels. I talk to God about it, but how do you go out on a date when you can’t even stand to look at the person ? Forgive me, I am probably too judgemental but it is the truth. Perfection is not my goal, taking care of yourself is. Any ideas out there for that ???

  46. Love this! We added babysitting into our monthly budget so that we can get out. Just last night we went out to dinner and shared a long walk with lattes. It was awesome.

  47. Boy was this a perfect time for me to read this! We’ve never lived near family and have moved or had our friends move more often than has allowed us to ever really have a date night. When our first was little we didn’t really find a need. But now that we have two kids (one of which is at the age where he is still learning not to interrupt!) we’ve come to realize that we really, really need to find a way to make this happen. We’ve got some good leads but it’s taking time in our new town. I appreciate all your tips on this! Thank you!

  48. I love to date my husband! Right now since we are breastfeeding and he won’t take a bottle they tend to be shorter dates but still very nice! I hope you find people to swap baby sitting with because there are so many fun things to do in Bend! I lived there my entire life until just 3 years ago we moved so I could stay home with the kids. Enjoy Bend and your husband when you get the chance!

  49. My husband and I used to go on a date at least once a week. We moved away to a new city a year ago and don’t know anyone well enough to leave our kids with. We used to sneak away for a weekend away too about every 6-8 weeks!! I miss our parents and babysitters so much!! We have 5 kids and life is busy and LOUD. My husband is running a new office so he’s busy too! Our kids are getting to the age where staying at home for awhile on their own is an option but with so many of them it’s often not a good break because we are constantly worried about who’s bugging who or not being cooperative for the sibling in charge! I AGREE. If you can date…DO IT. I crave it desperately. And tell parents all the time what they are missing. I hope we can pick it back up again soon carefree like before. It’s so important to be able to reconnect. Great post!

  50. I agree that dates are essential to all couples…It can make the relationship stronger and even longer…It can maintain the sweetness and love between the two…

  51. I’m not married so I think 5 out of 6 weeks is too small for me ;) and do couples truly lose the spark? :( I guess it boils down to if you truly love the person…

  52. LOVE the idea of joining up with a bunch of couples to share the babysitting and then get to go out several weeks in a row! woo hoo to that!

    I also TOTALLY agree that it is nice to remember that you actually like each other…I have had that very thought several times when my husband and I finally got away…we’ll be having fun doing something silly and I think “oh…this is why we got married…that’s right!” So important…

  53. What an encouraging post! I love how you talk about and encourage healthy marriage. We need more of this in our culture!

  54. What a great post. I have to say, I’m enjoying the more personal posts (and pictures).

    My dear husband and really need to start putting our marriage first and schedule date nights. It’s been tough though b/c we don’t have too many sitter options and I’m breastfeeding so time away from my baby is limited! But I do think it’s so important!

  55. avatar
    Katelyn says:

    Honestly, I’m not a “date night” type of person. I’d much rather just take a walk with my husband (easy to talk during them right now since my son isn’t talking yet.) I really enjoy doing stuff with all three of us together.

    Maybe once my child is older I will feel more comfortable trying to do something like this. Right now, my under one year old is exclusively breastfed and doesn’t sleep through the night. He also nurses to sleep for bedtime and most naps. Add that to the fact that I don’t feel comfortable leaving him with anyone other than my husband and we haven’t done “date nights.” And my son doesn’t know anyone well enough to be comfortable being without one of us anyway.

    I can see how more children might be more difficult and the focus the majority of the time is on them and not the two of you as a couple. I just want to say for those who aren’t eager for “date night” that’s okay too.

  56. You are moving to BEND????!!!!! When do you get here? Can we PLEASE be your official tour guides? Trying not to sound overly excited here, but yipee!!!!!!

    Seriously, in a less stalker-ish way, I would love to help you get acquainted and settled. Please feel free to email me ANY questions you have about Bend and our community.

    Who knows, if our kiddos get along, perhaps we’re your date night trades!

  57. We are big fans of date night. It sure is a lot harder to go on dates once we moved away from family. Thankfully, our gym hosts “Parents’ Night Out” a few times a month for $15 and we have 4 hours to do whatever…

  58. Love the bit about not cutting up each other’s food! So hear you. I also love not having to remind my husband to look both ways before crossing the street.

    Date nights are great–we’re super-lucky and get to go out once a week. Grandma babysits every Friday night. It so crucial to get regular couple-time. One of the best ways you can ensure the health & happiness of your kids is to have a healthy & happy relationship.

  59. The picture of a happy marriage is all in your hands. You are amazing couple and wishing you all the luck and success. God Bless!

  60. I came up with a list of 40 date night ideas here over a year ago:
    http://barniganflarn.xanga.com/720320949/40-date-ideas/

    Just a few weeks after I wrote that, I had baby #1. Baby #2 was born 2 weeks ago. We’ve had very few date nights since baby 1. I should get on trying out some of my own ideas soon.

  61. we have tried to make wednesday nights our date nights, even if we can\’t get a babysitter we have an \”in house\” date and put the kids to bed early. we have found that designating a specific night hasn\’t made us perfect at doing it every week, but a TON more consistent than before when we would just finally go on a date when we both felt totally disconnected and desperate. date nights are invaluable.

  62. avatar
    Evan Griffin says:

    I agree! I always see to it to give time to ask my wife for a date even for once a week. It is refreshing to both of us. After the tiring weekdays, spending a weekend night date with my wife is like a breath of fresh air.

  63. avatar
    Tracy F. Presley says:

    Dating can be useful to have a strong relationship although you are already married…It can make consistency in the sweetness of the couple…

  64. Date nights can make the relationship consistent in terms of sweetness and even in loyalty…

  65. I couldn’t agree more about date nights. I am sure newly weds might not be able to appreciate your point. It is only after having a couple of kids can one appreciate what you say, especially this:
    interruptions without “Guess what I saw today?”.

    It takes so much energy having kids around that it can be completely exhausting. The time available for a heart-to-heart talk with the spouse needs to be created and does not happen automatically.

    Thanks for reminding me to have a date night soon :).

  66. I mostly like dates during night time. During the night, we could spend time with each other longer than day time. I guess that there is power during night rather than day time. For me, it is special to have dates during night.

  67. Dates are SO RARE for us- and we have NEVER had an overnight :( …..(our oldest is 13.5)- we are trying to get better- and run out for coffee

  68. Thank you for reposting this! My husband and I seldom have dates out without the children (uhm, ok going out WITH children won’t qualify as a date!) I think we really need it. He works odd hours and I am working during his dayoff and he is working when I am off on Friday (YES – I live in the Middle East!)

    Our second child is 15 months old, maybe we can arrange for something so the husband and I can have time for each other, alone. I can’t however, manage to think of spending night without the baby boy, yet. Maybe when he grows a little older.

    I love this post!

  69. SOOOOO true! My husband and I recently had our first date night in a long time and it was amazing. We didn’t do much, just went to the mall to select baby bedding for the new nursery and then went to dinner. But it was three hours of heaven. I forgot how nice it is to sit and connect with each other in an un-interrupted, adult-conversation, kind-of way. :)

  70. I love the idea of keeping games in your car! It would be easy to keep Yahtzee or something like that on hand and play while enjoying a cup of coffee at the local coffee shop.

  71. One suggestion for date nights, if it is possible, plan your night for the night of the end of the work week. That way you are not sitting there thinking about what you have to do at work the next day and can completely focus on each other. I think date nights where you can talk are critical especially for women who need to feel connected.

  72. This is so true, and for many years we had a built in sitter with my oldest son. Now, it has been tough. He was the perfect babysitter when he lived here, he loves his brother, he is a EMT and a 2nd Degree Black Belt with one life saved under his belt. Wait, I am rattlling because I miss him.lol anyway, will call him today to arrange a date night/ slash/play date with his little brother.

  73. When my husband and I go out, I try to find the least child-friendly restaurant on earth. Then I dress up nice and spiffy, wearing heels (can’t now that I’m pregnant but usually I do) and jewelry that my kid won’t pull on.

    Admittedly we don’t do this often enough, even with family living so nearby. Thanks for the reminder to go out again :)

  74. Ah, whole-person-ness. So important. The regular, no-big-deal date nights are important but i look forward to, at least once a year, an away vacation with just me and my husband. Even if we have to pay for one of our parents to fly out and stay with the kids and then do our trip on the cheap, it is so, so worth it to have two or three whole days and nights to ourselves. Planning on Sedona for our 10th anniversary this fall!

  75. We can’t afford a babysitter very often and save it for when we really have no other option or for an anniversary dinner. We sometimes trade childcare with friends. Otherwise we try to have daytime dates- mostly lunch (restaurant or picnic) or coffee but occasionally a quick buzz through a museum exhibit or a lunchtime outdoor concert.

  76. Thank you for the reminder – no date night here since children born, that’s going back more than 2 years!! No family within 16,000k and no friends without young kids so not really many options for childcare. Hoping for some lunch dates at least, soon. It is so very important, as you say.

  77. This is so true! We have been firm believers in having a date night—although it has looked different during various seasons over the past 12.5 years! When we had little babies, we often had to have special “at-home” date nights. They were fun, but I do enjoy getting to go somewhere and remembering I’m a grown-up! :)

  78. A very timely reminder! My husband and I had a very rough 2012 and we are looking forward to a better 2013. One way we plan to make it better is date night! We frequently have at-home date nights but that has not been cutting it for us lately. I think we need to get out and rediscover each other. We spent a lot of 2012 in caregiver mode (we have 2 young children and both of my parents were diagnosed with cancer) but we failed to take care of ourselves and each other. I’m looking forward to making that a priority.

  79. We’ve come to love at-home dates. It’s the only way we are positive we will have a date night each week. It’s our motivation to do something special, have grown up talk, direct our attention away from our screens, and maybe even try out a cheesy “theme” for the evening.

  80. It is nice to have date nights, and we do try to get some though not on a regular basis. As I read this and keep hearing about how we ‘need’ date nights (from numerous sources) I begun to wonder. Is the ‘need’ for a date night a newer concept? I would be curious to see an article that surveyed couples who have been married 40+ years. Did they have date nights? What did they do to connect with their spouse? My parents will celebrate their 40th anniversary this year, and they didn’t have a weekly date night. We need the wisdom of couples who are quite a ways done the path of marriage and glean their wisdom!

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