Hail to thee, Date Night!

Before Maya came along, every weekend night was “date night” … whether it was a movie, dinner, a drive to walk around a Lake Michigan beach town or a day-trip to Chicago, or even just a late-night jaunt to Target … any time we had together was “date night.” Of course, we completely took it for granted — the ability to just get up and go if/when we pleased.

While we try to go out at least once a month just us, it isn’t always easy. Sometimes our “date night” ends up being a work party or a friend’s birthday … but it’s still time away from home, without our little monkey.

Since unlike most of our friends (here or back east) we have no family around …  we always need to hire a sitter. Even for the gym, or if one of us has a work meeting running late and the other has a conflict … we need a sitter. It’s a ball of fun, let me tell you, paying someone to exercise or go to a board meeting. But it’s our deal; this is what happens when you live ridiculously far from family … and aside from whining about it here, it simply is what it is.

This weekend we had a wonderful date night at a place we love, The Grill House — which is an interactive dining experience where you grill your own dinner. For my carnivore of a husband, it’s heaven on earth. And for me — who is “meh” about meat — it’s still a ton of fun. And because it’s a 45 minute drive each way, we had extra time to chat without having to calm down a toddler who doesn’t want to sit in her car seat or listening to Elmo sing his ABCs for the 100th time that day. After stressful work weeks for both of us, it was just what the doctor ordered!

So though I do NOT claim to be an expert (nor is my marriage perfect — whose is?!) given two years of parenthood and six and a half of marriage, here are a couple of my thoughts on the importance of Date Night.

-DO make the commitment to do something together — without your child(ren) — once a month. It might sound like a lot (in terms of expense) but even just a trip out for coffee just you two is critical to a healthy marriage. Put it on the calendar the way you would an appointment — this is something we are going to try. Sure, being spontaneous is fun … but with kids and a dog, it just might not be realistic. Yet knowing you have something to look forward to can make the month ahead look bearable.

-If the decision is between dinner and a movie, pick dinner and rent a movie for later. You’ll get the benefit of quality connect time and can watch the movie at your leisure … in your PJs! Of course, this thinking goes out the window if you’re a die-hard Ryan Reynolds fan you’re both die-hard Ryan Reynolds fans and his new movie comes out and you HAVE to see it that night … 🙂

-Plan an “experience” date. (Hint: it doesn’t have to be at night!) One of our favorite dates since Maya came into our lives was the all-day cooking class we did at a local restaurant called Zazio’s last summer. I blogged about it here, but it was so much fun and we hope to do another class soon. Other ideas could be a painting class, a drive up the coast that only costs gas money and road-trip snacks, a picnic at a park you’ve never been to … it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money but a shared experience is something you’ll still be talking about weeks, months, even years later.

-DO make time for yourselves as individuals … This one is so important, and was brought up during the movie we rented this weekend, Hope Springs (which rocks by the way — definitely a great movie and we both liked it). All the experts say having individual passions/hobbies helps bring excitement to a marriage and also keeps both people happy, and I think this is really true. For as much as we enjoy spending time together, I love that he has his own thing (racquetball) and I have mine (Zumba). Yes, I realize these are both physical activities but it’s how we spend our “me” time, and I know it makes us happy.

Those are just a couple of the things that come to my mind. I’m curious to hear what others have to say.

How about you? How do you make time for date nights? Or do you find it hard to plan/carry out?

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4 thoughts on “Hail to thee, Date Night!

  1. Oh, gosh. I find date night impossible. We had one in… um… October? The last one before that was Valentine’s Day…. 2011 (!!!). I just hate asking for a sitter. I can’t get over the guilt of both putting them out and “deserting” Nate for the evening when he’s already with a babysitter or family member four days a week while we work. Nate clearly never cares, never has. We leave and he’s perfectly happy to say bye and go back to playing. So there’s nothing to substantiate this guilt of mine. We also didn’t do this much before we had Nate, though, so I think we kind of don’t have the pattern/habit to fall back to. It’s definitely a goal of mine to work on this.

    1. Aw … what about going out during Nate’s nap time or after he is asleep? No guilt! I do know what you mean though — I feel guilty leaving for Zumba once a week at night … missing her dinner-time. But I need to do it for me, and that’s why I go. She is fine 🙂 I also think it depends on your life before baby–if you guys didn’t go out a lot before, it might not be that important now. We went out a lot before (even though deep-down we’re both home-bodies at heart) so it was a real change but it helps for us to nurture our marriage as well as our family life. Good luck!

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