I always thought the phrase “date night” was really corny. Before I had a baby. Last week my husband and I had our first date night since April. I wore a dress. I bought new shoes, finally. We ate at one of our favorite Thai places (yes, we had a BOGO coupon, but whatever) and we actually got to eat our food without having to take care of a child. I didn’t have to make dinner, and no one had to clear the table and wipe up the floor. After dinner we went to see Star Trek. And last night we had another date night—this time it was Ghostbusters and food stands at Fiesta, an annual town festival. It’s incredibly decadent to get two date nights so close tother, but that’s just how things worked out with scheduling.
Creating a regular date night is my next goal, but for now I’m just grateful when we do manage to get out of the house and are able to line up child care!
Here is what a date night can do for your relationship, why couple friends with kids are such a commodity, and why your girlfriends have to be a priority, too.
Date Nights Allow You to Connect With Your Partner Without Distraction
It’s very easy to forget to connect with your partner when you have so many other things demanding your attention like work and family. After putting kids to bed, you might be like me and my husband—he’ll be playing a video game on his iPad while The Daily Show is on in the background, and I’m puttering around on Pinterest and trying to write—but this is not the kind of quality time that a real date night can afford. Exhaustion and distraction are barriers in every relationship, so make a plan to do something out of the ordinary that will revive and excite both you and your partner.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money, but you do have to be thoughtful. Some quick ideas:
Turn off the TV and electronic devices and play some board games.
Choose a new recipe and cook dinner together.
Make cocktails and sit on the patio and watch the sun set and the moon rise.
Date Nights Make You Prioritize Your Time and Money
Try to make it a habit to plan date nights so it’s not such a foreign concept when or if you grow your family, you take on more at work, or become heavily involved in other activities. Be intentional with how you spend your time and money by putting your relationship at the top of your priorities. Spending money on drinks, theater or concert tickets, or dinner and dessert is a luxury, but with careful budgeting you don’t have to give it up entirely even when money is tight.
I appreciate the opportunity to go out even more now that we are on a single income because I know we’ve saved and planned for it. There is a sense of romance when you know you’re on the same page about finances as your partner and how you spend your limited time together.
When you’ve created a budget for date night, mix things up beyond dinner and a movie and do something extra special occasionally. Some quick ideas:
Visit the cheese counter and create a charcuterie plate to go. Picnic at the park or beach.
Go wine or beer tasting and take an Uber or splurge on a driver.
Get a couples massage.
Make Couple Friends With Kids and Create A Babysitting Exchange
Couple friends with kids seem like the holy grail to me. I’ve heard of them, but I haven’t socialized with them with any regularity in my life. According to my friends that do have them, here’s why they are such a hot commodity: you can alternate babysitting with couple friends and offer each other regular respite for free. You can also go out on family outings together and no one is going to judge you if you let your kids eat Cheerios directly from the questionable surface of the restaurant table. If you have couple friends with kids, rejoice, if you’re like me and you don’t, GET ON IT.
That being said, I am truly lucky to have quite a lot of single friends, single mom friends, and couple friends without kids who don’t judge me and the trail of Cheerios we leave in our wake.
Dates with Friends Will Rejuvenate and Inspire You
There’s a cliché that women in relationships let their friendships suffer, but I would argue that when you’re in a relationship it’s even more important to have friends outside of your partnership. I live far away from my oldest and dearest friends, but I have created a community where I’m at and have found my newer friendships invaluable. Dinners, lunches, brunches, coffee dates, and going to the movies are such an important lifeline. Carving out time for adult friendships is a form of self-care. Your friends can rejuvenate you, inspire you, and lift you up when you’re down, in a way that your partner can’t. Your friends know you in a different context than a partner and your family, and losing touch with them is really losing touch with part of your best self.
What are your favorite date ideas? Later this week I’ll share a round up of the best date night ideas!
Image Credit // glasses and sunset (featured in graphic): by Daniel Nanescu via UHD Wallpapers