After Jane was born John and I struggled trying to figure out how to get out and do things together sans children, we had this vague memory of things called “dates” and we wanted one. Then we realized that really all we want to do is eat dinner together, talk and possibly watch a movie and that we can do all of that at home, so we started date night. It has been one of the best decisions we’ve ever made.
Here is how we manage having an adults only date night with three young kids, minimal expenses and no baby sitter.
Step 1: Pick a Day
Pick a day. We picked Friday. Our rule is that we have a date on Friday if we don’t have other plans, but we don’t turn down other plans because of our date night. This has had us having at least two a month if not more. Just about perfect for us.
Step 2: Make a Plan
John and I like to cook so our date night revolves around cooking and eating with an occasional movie or game of Bannanagrams afterwards. But this is your date night, plan whatever you like! You don’t have to make a plan in advance but I can tell you from experience it’s more enjoyable if nobody has to go the grocery store at nine at night.
Step 3: Put ALL the kids to bed
Now is where I can hear the whining and the excuses about how late this is going to get. But I feel I can guarantee you a few things.
1)If you have young kids you haven’t got any sleep in the last few years anyway. You are already perfectly capable of going on less than optimal sleep, don’t pretend you aren’t, I know you are.
2) No matter who you are, you’ve stayed up too late for less fun or worse reasons than having a date with your spouse.
So, suck it up, have Diet Coke/coffee/whatever, and get all the munchkins sleeping!
Step 4: Get ready
Sometimes getting ready is putting on sweats for a comfy night of movie watching but it’s way more fun to get ready as if you were actually going out on a date. You know, shower, shave, make-up, clothes without unidentifiable splotches on them. This will seem silly, all the way up until your spouse gives you an “approving” look, then it will be worth it, trust me!
Step 5: Don’t do ANYTHING else!
It’s the hardest part. Try to forget you are at home, which if it’s anything like mine needs someone to work on 7,000 small and large projects at any given moment, and don’t do any of them. You are on a date. This is not dinner and quick change a load of laundry. This is not dinner and pick up the house. This is not dinner and checking e-mail. This is not dinner and texting. This is not even working on a fun project together. This is a date. Please feel free to redirect your spouse if they get side tracked. Give them a drink to hold, distract them with a kiss, whap them over the head with a newspaper, whatever it takes. My favorite strategy is to eat by candle light, it cuts down on the amount of mess you can see making it much easier to ignore!
Step 6 Enjoy your date!
I know that there have been Fridays nights where one or the other of us was crabby or unenthusiastic about getting things rolling at the beginning of the night and yes there are times where crying babies have to be put back to sleep or kids come down looking for the bathroom, and instead of busboys we do have a kitchen full of dishes waiting for us in the morning. But I also know that neither of us have ever regretted anything other than the consumption of too many adult beverages with our adult dinner come Saturday morning!