Two years into this whole parenthood thing, I’m just getting used to the concept of “date-night.” When you’re married & childless, any occasion, day-or-night, can be turned into a “date”…heck, your whole life outside of work is one big date! And score! –each dinner out, movie, concert, whatever all result in getting to take your hottie home at the end of the night. Young married life is pretty freakin’ great. International travel. An MBA. Spontaneous weekend getaways. Fancy meals at hot new restaurants. I look back on that stage fulfilled to have gotten so much time together, just as husband and wife.
Then comes baby in a baby carriage! #Blessed, but married life as you know it won’t be the same for at least 20+ years. I’ve talked about Fearless Mom before but just as a quick refresh, it’s a moms lecture series with small group breakouts that meets weekly on Wed. mornings. It’s a ministry of Lake Hills Church here in Austin and it’s been a place of comfort, learning, and camaraderie for me as a mom. I’ve absorbed so much parenting truth. Things like:
- Marriage: how the parenting pendulum swings between wife and mom
- 20/20 Parenting: discipline for the next 20 years, rather than the next 20 mins
- Mom Guilt: be aware and intentional with your thoughts – YOU are enough
- Social Media: Wherever you are, be all there. #putdownthephone
All. of. this. Seriously, I’ve loved it so much! If you’re not in Austin, you can follow along at home. Anyway, one of the lessons of the past couple sessions has been to set a date night and keep it regularly. –But it’s hard, y’all! Here are the reasons why we’ve never been able to keep a regular weekly date night:
- Babysitters are expensive. No lie, I had a professional nanny who babysits on her off hours quote me “$15-$17/hr. for one child under the age of 5.” –Ugh, our ‘one child under the age of 5’ goes to bed by 7:30. The sitter may be super-qualified, but I just can’t allow myself to pay someone $17/hr. to sit at the house while my little one sleeps. I need to find some good minimum wage-level high schoolers in the neighborhood, for real.
- Movies are pricey, too. Many of the cinemas around where we live are these new luxury-style set-ups where you choose an assigned seat in a comfy leather armchair and have servers wait on you throughout the show. Plus, all those bigger recliners with tables and wide aisles for food service = less space available in each theatre. Anytime we get an itch to go to the movies on a whim, it’s like NO –tickets sold out a week ago.
- I’m tired, honey. Frankly, I’m tired all the time. But I’m especially sleepy after like 9 p.m. And honestly, on a Friday night with a glass of red wine in his system, so is the husband…I’ll catch him crashed out on the couch by 9:30 at night. Also, no one enjoys looking down at their watch during a date. If I do happen to get a second wind and want to party ’til midnight, the child’s still waking up at the same early bird hour that she always does the next day. Um, where are the babysitters for the morning after?
But still, the notion of prioritizing your marriage during parenthood remains so important. At Fearless Mom, I’ve heard it put like this: Connect daily. Date weekly. Retreat annually. So, dating doesn’t need to happen at night, right? Here are some alternative date-night periods where we’ve carved in some couple-time:
- During Preschool: Our little one goes to a half-day program twice a week at the local church. They call it Preschool, but it’s more of a Mother’s Day Out. It’s rare, but if the hubs is open for lunch, I’ll throw out the idea of a lunch-date…he loves to eat out, so it’s not a hard sell. Sometimes we’ll drive to the East side to check out the latest buzzed about restaurant that just opened. But really, any meal out that we can eat together, hot & uninterrupted, is “date” enough for us!
- When the Grandparents are Around: Whether they’re visiting us or if we’re home for the holidays, we try to find an opportunity to sneak off for a moment to ourselves. Just get in the car and find something to do outside the realm of parenthood! Usually, it’s just us going see a movie or grab a drink with a friend. BUT If you can get Grandma to sign-off for the overnight shift, this is an ideal chance for a one-night staycation at a hotel. It’s amazing with the illusion of a real vacation can do for tired parents’ souls.
- Daytime: This is our key window! I’m all about the day-dates vs. date-night. Saturday mid-day is a great time for your weekly date. Babysitters are less likely to be booked up, and the littles are awake & energetic so they’ll be earning that hourly rate 😉 Plus, there are opportunities for fun, active, outdoorsy dates. Something to spice-up that married dating game besides the usual dinner & a movie, ya know? We recently went on an indoor skydiving day-date that I can’t wait to tell y’all more about. Blog post on our experience at iFLY coming soon!