If you and your spouse are anything like my spouse and me, you don’t get out much. In fact, I can count on one hand the number of dates David and I have gone on in the almost-two years since we moved to Texas. Four. Three of the dates were on separate occasions when David’s mom was visiting, and she let us go out to a movie after the kids were asleep. The fourth time was just recently, when we got a sitter so we could attend the launch party for David’s game, DC Universe Online.
There are many reasons why we never sought out a babysitter. Our sons are about 13.5 months apart and, being boys, non-stop balls of energy. It was daunting to locate someone who 1) could handle two toddlers and 2) would not charge a million dollars an hour to do so. I feel like we recently turned a corner, though. The boys are now almost 5 and almost 6, and they’re more manageable. In the past, we would have to sneak out if we were to have any chance of getting out of the house without a tantrum (theirs, not mine… most of the time). Dropping them off anywhere was near impossible. The kids’ room at church? Yeah, right. Babysitting area at the gym? Forget about it.
For most of the boys’ lives, we just gave up. David was in the Marine Corps; during the last two years of his enlistment, we discovered that Marine Corps Air Station Miramar once-a-month parents’ night out for only $20, thanks to Marine Corps Air Base Miramar. IT WAS A GOD SEND. It seriously revolutionized our marriage, and unequivocally highlighted the need for us to get out and have some alone time. I honestly do not know what our marriage would be like now if we hadn’t taken advantage of the parents’ night out.
Nowadays, the boys run happily into kids’ church, they did well with the babysitter when we went to the launch party, and they stay with a sitter once a week while I go to roller derby practice. (see my post on February 28th for details about my foray into derby) A carefully-screened teenager is now a perfectly acceptable caregiver, whereas a couple years ago, we practically needed someone with a degree in child development and a minor in physical education to watch the boys.
All of the above was a long-winded way of saying: hey, dating your partner is important if you’re going to make it to the rocking chairs on the front porch, looking off into the sunset while your grandchildren play in the front yard stage in life. Here are some date night ideas; some can be done in the comfort of your own home, others are for those fortunate enough to land a babysitter. All have the Livemom satisfaction guarantee. Okay, there is no Livemom satisfaction guarantee, but we still think you’ll have fun. Carving out time in an already busy schedule is certainly easier said than done, but you can start small! Dates don’t have to be long, especially if you don’t leave the house.
- Do a jigsaw puzzle! David and I are working on one that will eventually, so says the box, resemble a beautiful picture of some old buildings in Greece. It’s nice to do an activity side-by-side that allows you to just enjoy one another’s company.
- Read a book together. David really wanted me to read a book by Orson Scott Card, one of his favorite authors. Recognizing that I would never pick up one of Card’s books on my own, David decided to read one of his favorites aloud to me. Reading time became my favorite time of the night. For the record, the book he read to me was Enchantment.
- Does your partner work late? Set out a nice floor picnic after you put the kids to bed. Candles, wine/beer/grape juice and a special meal, or even just leftovers from whatever you made for the kids. It’s all about ambiance! Even better, take your picnic to the backyard. Bring the baby monitor along if you need to, of course.
- Speaking of the backyard, why not do a little stargazing on a clear night? Bring along your boom box for a little dancin’ in the moonlight.
- Feeling adventurous? How about some Geocaching? This is also a kid-friendly date. My boys adore geocaching. They call it “treasure hunting.”
- Hit up a paint-your-own ceramics shop, or other artsy-crafty place and spend your time together chatting and painting. Note that I have not been to Cafe Monet, but it sure looks like fun! They’ve even got a Valentine’s Day event tomorrow, in case you’re still looking for something to do.
- Head to the Alamo Drafthouse for one of their special showings. I love the selection of movies from the past that they play. They’ve currently got a number of great films from the ’80s on tap. Check it out!
My parting words to you: no matter what you do, and whether you have a babysitter or not, don’t forget to enjoy your partner. I know all too well how easy it is to slip into the “roommates who happen to have kids together” rut. I hope the short list of ideas in this post inspire ways for you to avoid the rut!
I leave you with a picture of my husband and I, out on a date. Pre-kids. Aww, look how young and thin we were.
.Written by: Jennifer Ford