Hubby and I spent about 5 years seriously contemplating parenthood before our Nugget arrived. We're planners by nature, but then adoption forced us to spend more time planning than we ever thought possible! The thing we read and heard over and over again was the importance of setting and sticking to a weekly date night. Experts say it's an investment in your marriage, and as cheesy as it sounds, I think it's true. The way I see it, our marriage is the core of our family, and someday when the Nugget and Lil Sib go off to make their own way in the world, I want to know I'm married to my Hubby, not to a stranger.
Can you have a successful marriage without a weekly date? Of course you can! Millions of couples have done it, my parents included. And truly, sometimes circumstances, like spouses who work opposite shifts, preclude it from the realm of possibility.
But I wanted to share our tips with you so that the 95% of you couples who CAN and want to swing a weekly date can start getting yours! Don't let money worries stop you - yes, it can be expensive if you hire a sitter and hit a 5-star restaurant each week, but it can also be FREE! Read on...
Simple Steps to Date Night:
1. Hire a regular sitter if you need one. It needs to be someone your kids enjoy and someone you trust. You won't enjoy date nights if you're stressed about the sitter in any way. Having the same person come week after week is easier for your kids, it means you won't have to spend the first 15 minutes of your date showing the new sitter where everything is, and it means that you are "on the books" and won't have to call around each week. If you are lucky enough to have family willing to sit for you, you're living the dream! If you can't afford a sitter, consider swapping sitting duties with another family.
2. Pick a time. Weekday evenings are best for us, but for you, it could be a Sunday afternoon or a breakfast after you've dropped the kids at daycare. Be flexible, because illness, business trips, and holidays happen. But after a lapse, get back on the horse. Remember, it's not a luxury, it's an investment!
3. Eat on the cheap! For me, date night is my one night off from cooking dinner and washing dishes, so eating out is a big factor for me! We try to save money by using coupons (the Entertainment Book is so worth the money if you like to try new places), or meal deals. Tuesday is $2 burger night at Bar Louie. Chili's (app, 2 entrees, dessert) and Applebee's (app and 2 entrees) both boast 2 for $20 deals. Now that the holidays are coming up, many restaurants are going to have promos attached to their gift cards. Buy a certain dollar amount in gift cards and get some bonus bucks at no additional cost. Part of the reason we chose a weekday night is that the restaurants are less crowded and coupons are always valid! You could go to Taco Bell and dine on 49-cent tacos, the point isn't fine dining, it's quality time.
4. Mix it up. Browse a bookstore without having to entertain munchkins with puppets. Cuddle together on a couch at a coffeehouse. Go for a hand-in-hand walk. Hit the second-run movie theater. Sit at a bar and flirt outrageously. Check out a museum, art gallery, go clubbing, do whatever you want to do but can't with the kidlets. Sometimes we even sneak an errand into our date night, but if you're stealing kisses and sharing stories over 1.5 inch nails at the hardware store, it can still be romantic!
5. Make your own rules. Some sources say not to discuss the kids at all during your date. We tried this a couple times, but it stressed us out, so we dropped that rule. Some say you absolutely must get dolled up for each other - we do that about 50% of the time. It's fun to make the effort, but other times, Hubby is running late, the Nugget's been a pill all day, and I certainly haven't had a second to curl my hair. Create your own rules, but drop them if they start making date night a stressful exercise. It's all about having fun and enjoying your spouse.
No excuses, just date!
Do you have any date night tips to share? Please add the to the comments!