When was the last time you and your significant other went out on a date? With life as busy as it is, often it’s hard to fit one in especially if you’re married with young children.
With Valentines Day around the corner, I now was a good time to look at dating and the wisdom of establishing a regular date night to help keep you connected throughout the year.
Spending time together away from your kids is healthy. Don’t feel guilty about leaving your child or children with a sitter. You aren’t shortchanging them, what you are doing instead is enhancing both your marriage and your family.
One of my favorite (and cost-effective) dates when our kids were young was to enjoy a weekend family dinner together and then have the baby sitter come over, play with the kids for an hour or so then tuck them into bed while the hubby and I went out to a movie or to a local restaurant for coffee and dessert. We found it to be a great compromise – the kids weren’t without us for long, they got used to having a sitter, it was easy on our pocketbook and the kids were in bed when we got home.
First consider what you enjoy doing together. For instance, if you like Japanese or Thai food why not turn the shared interest into a two or three date experience?
DATE ONE: Go out to a favorite restaurant. Order two different meals and share them. Discuss what you like and don’t like about this particular type of food.
DATE TWO: Shop and buy a cookbook or two and look over the recipes over coffee at a local café. Decide on some recipes to try for your next date.
DATE THREE: Grocery shop and cook together. Enjoy a romantic meal for two at home.
Here are some general guidelines for rekindling the flame or to keep it burning…
Mini dates. At least once a week schedule in a few minutes of quality time together in date form e.g. a quick cup of coffee at a local café or a walk.
Date night. Every two weeks schedule a real date e.g. dinner and a movie out or have a sitter take the kids out for dinner and a movie then stay home and make and enjoy a quiet meal together.
Go with what works. If you and your spouse are early to bed and early to rise maybe date ‘mornings’ instead of date ‘nights’ are more up your alley? Arrange a sleepover for your kids and then consider a leisurely breakfast or sunrise walk in a park.
Spice it up. In order to keep those dates happening, you’ll want to keep things interesting. Think outside the box. Is there an activity you’ve always wanted to try e.g. swing dancing or snowshoeing? If so suggest it and see if your partner is game. Take turns making suggestions (and acting on them).
Be open about the planning. While it would be great if you both took turns planning your ‘dates’, don’t stress over who handles the bulk of the date planning. As long as you both value spending quality time together on a regular basis, does it really matter who plans it?
Conversation know how. Steer clear of conversations that revolve around finances, housekeeping frustrations, or issues with the kids (like little Billy’s English grades). Topics like current events, personal and work goals, as well as hobbies and interests are much more appropriate.
Be in the moment. Don’t multi-task during a date in order to cross off two tasks at once from your To Do list. While it’s tempting to call the auto shop about ordering in new tires the moment you think of it, doing so distracts from the date and purpose behind it of escaping the day-to-day and concentrating solely on each other.
Consider double dating. Socializing with another couple (or couples) is another great way to connect as a couple and simply let loose and fun.