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How a Weekly Date Night Changed our Relationship

I have previously written a post on babysitters {here} and how getting what I wanted from a babysitter required that I stop trying to convince her that I am cool. I was having a major problem trying to make life easier on the sitter and therefore negating my life being easier — which is what I paying for! Have y’all seen this Amy Schumer Old Navy commercial? This is exactly how I was acting toward my babysitters a few years ago, and (weirdly) it wasn’t making them think I was cool! It also wasn’t getting them to do what I wanted while I was away.

Getting what I wanted from sitters was a major victory, but an even bigger victory was when my huz and I instituted a weekly date night into our schedule. This means that if we are in town and don’t have a commitment for kids on Saturday nights (we rarely do since ours are still elementary age) we are going out. 

The first key to our weekly date night success was just go out. Beyond that, there are a few questions that we figured out the answers to that helped make our weekly date night a success:

  1. What makes us feel connected (or: where should we go?) 5 years into our marriage, we figured out that we both felt connected through group date time. Obviously, this is not universal. Tim and I are both extroverts, so we plan our Saturdays to be heavy on the double dates, parties, and meeting for cocktails and light on the two of us alone at Cinemark. One on one we tend to get tired, or revert to talk about the kids. To be honest, if we go to a movie, he falls asleep and I mourn his sleeping on our date with a second bucket of buttered popcorn. These are not the ingredients to romance. We love to be active. Rock climbing, classes, renting a moped, kayaking in White Rock – these are some of our best nights together. Maybe you love holding hands at the movies and sharing a pack of peanut M&M’s — whatever it is, figure out what you can do together that makes you both feel like your “pre-parenting” selves! This may be different for you and your partner, but the key is figuring out what makes you both feel connected and feeling the freedom to decide accordingly. 

    Made it out alive from this one. Barely.

  2. When should we leave? – We used to leave at 7 or 7:30 pm for our dates, but that meant we had to cook for the kids and get them headed towards bedtime before leaving. If we are going to pay for babysitting, we want to pay for some help with the routine for a night. Our kids are also better behaved when a sitter comes early enough for them to play with her instead of having her arrive and promptly bed them. Find your sweet spot and stick with it.
  3. What should we do if we have no plans? (See also: just go out!) Figure out something easy to keep your sitter coming consistently even when you have no plans/don’t need a sitter. Like I mentioned, some weeks we might plan a fun dinner. But on the off weeks we don’t try and do anything fancy…we just go. It’s amazing how much freedom we can feel with just 2 hours away from your responsibilities! 
  4. What if we have “stuff” to discuss? If we have to talk shop – we get takeout. We know couples who rule the at-home date night more frequently than we do; staying at home in our jams is not our favorite. My house-perfectionism rears up and I tend to get distracted with all that I see that needs to be done. But we do try and schedule dates where we review upcoming plans, transitions we are making, or specific struggles with a kid. When we have to talk shop, we chill a bottle of wine and get takeout Thai food. We bring our notebooks/calendars/computers/phones out and we go for it. Often this feels like the lamest type of date (on the outset), but we persist and usually walk away understanding more about each other afterwards. If you love an at-home date, write down some good questions and take turns learning about each other. Get out your adult coloring books and go to town. Put your kids on bikes and in strollers and go for a walk together so you can talk. But whatever you do, make sure you get some Thai green curry takeout, because this is, undisputedly, the most pivotal part of an at home date night. 

    Date lanyards are optional (but recommended)

  5. What if we can’t afford a sitter? There are many ways to avoid or minimize the cost of a sitter. You can trade babysitting, have an at home date, or sitter share with another couple. I recommend just skimping in other areas. There is no better investment (financially or otherwise) that we have made in our relationship; our weekly date night has reaped rewards in our connection as husband and wife, in our friendships with others, and even in the parents we are after a little break. So great has the reward proven that we began earmarking funds to spend on keeping our sitter overnight a couple times a year. So worth it.

So there you have it! My challenge to you is commit to a weekly date night for 6 months — I bet it will be the boon to you and your relationship that it has been to us! Happy dating!

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