Date Night

• 23 January 2012


Have you ever noticed that the longer you are married or in a committed relationship, the messier the bedroom becomes and the less frequent you find yourselves out on a date?  Isn't it ironic that the most important relationship gets more or less tossed to the back burner and less pressing matters take center stage?  This is an interesting phenomenon I've thought a lot about in the past few years as I've observed couples pay less and less attention on each other (and more on hobbies, work and their children).  I've learned that scheduling time for date nights makes a sizable impact on the happiness and satisfaction you feel within your married relationship; this is particularly true if you have children.

If you have a trusted babysitter or family member nearby, why not call or text them right now and schedule a night out for the upcoming weekend?  If you don't have either, perhaps consider a babysitting swap with a friend.  Often good friends are just as helpful as family and chances are you have a trusted friend in the same boat.  Maybe one weekend night you tend her kiddos and then she tends yours on the other.  We actually participate in this type of babysitting swap at least once a month.  Date nights are far more relaxing when we don't have to worry about forking out $15/hour!  That being said, even if you don't have the opportunity to participate in a babysitting swap, "...recognize that a babysitter is cheaper than a divorce" (source).

Frequency of date nights is also important.  Making time for two dates each month is typically ideal for most couples.  If you have children, allow yourselves to spend some time discussing your children and their needs on one of the two monthly dates.  Then be sure to make that second date all about you and your spouse.  No kid talk allowed :)  If your spouse works extremely late hours and/or travels during the week, then you may want to consider upping your dates nights from twice monthly to once a week.  If you have budget constraints, then plan a date night "in" every now and again.  A movie and takeout enjoyed after the kids are in bed can be a lot of fun too! 

Here are some fun date night ideas beyond dinner and a movie, (which have their place mind you!), to jump start your next date night:

1.  a music-themed evening--the symphony, a jazz club or an outdoor concert are all interesting and provide a change of scenery. 

2.  hanging out in a bookstore together--I love the idea of holing up in the dark corner of a locally-owned bookstore, but often the only ones open at night are Barnes and Noble so we typically head there.

3.  dance lessons--I actually bought these on Groupon (which for the record has encouraged me to do so many things out-of-the-box), because I don't feel like my dancing skills have improved since middle school (shuffling around in a circle doesn't count as dancing, right?).  Deals on Living Social or Google Offers often offer similar activities. 

4.  stay outdoors--night skiing, a bike ride, a walk along the beach, a picnic on the lawn, and a carriage ride downtown, to name a few.

5. double dating--it's not just for high-schoolers :)  Especially when it comes to bowling, which we can technically make #6 :)

What are some of your date night ideas?

image snapped on an iPhone outside Bi-Rite Creamery in San Francisco's Mission District

26 comments:

Valentina said...

o) я завидую вам! Как здорово, что вы говорите об этом. Я думаю,что игра, теплый взгляд и все ok!

SreeBindu said...

date nights =) always fascinating!

xoxo
http://sreebindu.blogspot.com/

cecilia said...

my husband and i have not done this enough during our daughter's first two years. i think we were trying to be martyrs.

this year will be different, we have both vowed. your ideas have inspired me to jot down a list of dates to come!

SittingAround: Babysitting Cooperatives said...

If you set up a babysitting swap, you can formalize it into a babysitting coop. SittingAround.com makes software that makes managing your group effortless.

Mary said...

Going out to dinner is always a favorite...just being able to have a conversation and eat my food slowly and thoughtfully. It's so nice. My other favorite date night is going to see live music. We went to a handful of concerts last year, and I want to do more this year - I actually just bought tickets for a show my birthday weekend.

It's so so true. Date nights are essential.

Emily Foley said...

I always feel so guilty when I read about how often other couples go on dates. With three children and a very tight budget, we get out maybe twice a year. Always on our anniversary and occasionally one other time...not always. It's not just paying for the baby-sitter, it's everything else that goes with a date. We live in a tiny town in NM and there really isn't anything to do here unless you go out to dinner and a movie. After the kids are in bed we watch TV together and talk, so maybe I'll count that as our every night date night? :) For our 10th anniversary this year I tagged along on one of his business trips and it was a fantastic week and has me itching for more one-on-one time together. Thanks for the ideas!

yours truly said...

Ooh, good ideas. Why haven't I thought of the book store idea before? I think that's where we'll head this weekend. We have been awful about sticking to a plan about dates, and just recently sat down to make a schedule and really put it as a top priority. Our plan is twice a month out on the town, with a babysitter at home. Then once a week, we picked Wednesday nights we make a quick dinner for the kids (leftovers, brinner ect), put them down, and then make our own delcious meal together that we can enjoy alone. We did it last week and it was really fun! We cooked to music, chatted and sat at the dinner table well after the meal was over. Thanks for these other great ideas though!

Marianna said...

Great ideas Steph! We try to go on at least a short date once a week-ish.
Our kids are a little older so we often leave them just for an hour and walk up to Solano for a quick bite to eat then come home, put them to bed and have our hang out time. They are happy at home usually watching a movie and we are just a couple blocks away very happy to be enjoying great food that we didn't have to cook.
We have a local outdoor hot tub place that is quaint (and very clean) with those old wooden tubs, we head there every now and with a fresh fruit basket and nice cold water.
For another date night in, we've found reading a book aloud to each other really enjoyable. It usually takes us a long time to get through it, but its another form of entertainment with out staring at the big box. :)

Marianna said...

ps. Thanks for the reminder of how important it really is. We've kind of been slacking lately...

debby said...

growing up, my parents found a babysitter that they really liked and reserved her for every friday night. she had a consistent gig, we had a consistent babysitter who knew us and our routine really well, and my parents had a consistent date night. it was a great example to me of how much my parents valued their relationship as a couple. my husband and i are fortunate enough to live close to my sister and her husband, so we swap date nights every week, but we are moving soon and have already discussed the need for consistent date nights. the more children we have, the more important it becomes. great ideas here that we will have to incorporate.

Rachael said...

We've never paid for a babysitter and we have four kids! Crazy, right? But we have found great success with the co-op; we've done it for years as friends have moved in and out. And honestly, a few hours of babysitting craziness are totally worth the other free nights out. I'm always surprised at how comparatively calm it is with 12 kids running around (especially easy in summer--they play outside the entire time and take a quick break for dinner. Totally painless!).

One other thing that has worked really well for us is to find something that we are committed to doing together. We both love to run, and we've found that signing up for long-distance races gives us a chance to train together on date night, and the two or three hours we spend running together are just one long talkfest figuring out new goals, strategies for dealing with current kid problems, dreaming about our future together--the endorphins make for a GREAT night, plus it has been so good for our marriage to accomplish something so big together (plus training for a race means that we have a long run to do together every single week). It's wonderful to have something that is our "thing" (plus the health benefits are nice too. :-)

onesilentwinter said...

look at you guys! oh stephanie you look happy and i love, love your hair cut!

Joslyn said...

ok i am so, so happy you posted this lady! so good and so important for sure. you inspired me at alt to make date night a priority! thank you!

xoxox
joslyn

Emily Peck said...

it's so true that date nights are SO IMPORTANT! the hubs and i try to get out once a month but it's hard with a young baby - thankfully we have our families in the area. next up? we are going to a burlesque valentines day live performance AND going thrifting {2 seperate dates}. <3

likeschocolate said...

ice skating with other couples is always fun!

Nikki McBride said...

One of our best dates was go-cart racing. Lunch dates can be a little less expensive than dinner dates. For us, the longer we are married - the more we need dates. It's important to help us feel connected as a team. Then we are better parents for it.

kalanicut said...

Loved your thoughts Steph and enjoyed all the comments. Great ideas all around. I find date nights are the time to fall in love all over again. Nothing like holding hands undisturbed. :)

Ambyr said...

What an inspirational post! Thanks for the push to get on this. Just what I needed. :)

Michelle said...

Special post! I am a true believer of having date nights! It will make a world of difference in any relationship, especially marriage! Me and my husband have not been too fortunate to enjoy these type of nights in a few years because of deployments taking him away from home, but I hold faith that oneday we will get to do this and become closer than ever before! So important to get some time away from the kids to be together alone!

Stephanie said...

I knew you'd all inspire me!! I could go on forever about the sage advice you're putting forth. A few things struck my situation in particular:

Yours Truly, I like the eating in idea after the kids go to bed. We used to do this when we had 1 or 2 kids but have gotten out of the habit (and many others sadly) since 3 and 4 arrived :) Thanks for the reminder!

Marianna, let's add hot tub to date night ideas, yes? and a fruit basket? That's awesome :)

Debbie, you bring up one of hte most important points--showing your children an example of love and commitment. Making sure the kids know your relationship comes first. Love it.

Rachael, your idea would be so fun for a daytime date...so no one has to worry about naps, putting kids, down, bedtime routines, etc. Especially in the summer!

So I scheduled a date night for this weekend...a swap in fact. Did you? :)

xo

Eva / Sycamore Street Press said...

This is such a great post, Steph. Kirk and I do make an effort to have date nights, but we need to be a bit more consistent about it. Also, it was so great talking with you at Alt!

marta said...

i love this inspiration (and that photo is so great)! we just read that article aloud last night and dan had to show me that line because i didn't believe that was really what it said!! but it's so true. thanks for the great ideas too.

xo.

Lisette said...

Kids or no kids, date night is oh so important to a relationship!!

Jennifer said...

Hello Steph,

You guys are so cute! I agree date night is super important! I'm curious how your babysitting swap works? Do you generally find people with the same number/ages of kids? Do you have either yourself or your husband go and watch them on your duty night or do they drop their kids off with you and go to bed at your house?

Stephanie said...

Hi Jennifer,

We swap with another couple that's also very interested in swapping. They actually have 1 kid and I have 4 so to even things out I put all my kids down (but my oldest) before she arrives to my home (this means we head out a little later...like 7:30). Then she only has to put down one of my children and feels like she's only tending one child. Then, on their night to go out, I head over to their house to tend their child for the evening, play with him, and then put him down at his bedtime. So far so good!

Natasha said...

Steph, This great post reminded me of this study I read recently about the keys to happiness in marriage post kids ... date nights are key and surprisingly couples with four or more kids who go to church are way happier! http://www.stateofourunions.org/2011/when-baby-makes-three.php The stats back up what you're saying for sure!

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