Making date night happen, despite time or finance limitations, is so important to a relationship and marriage. Such great and advice and simple tips on carving that time out for ourselves.
Adventure. Romance. Bonding. Dates are so fantastic for relationships! They are often this needed respite from the daily tolls of life, and a time to reconnect with your spouse without distraction.
But, it is often life, our situation, and time restraints that prevent date nights from happening, or happening regularly. But I believe there are some simple things you can do to carve time for date night despite your circumstances, as long as you are willing to bend the rules a bit on what “dates” look like.
I think as a married couple anytime that you have together, that is specifically designated for bonding, talking, or having fun, can be considered a “date.” While I do think traditional dates out are fantastic and fun and wonderful for a marriage, I don’t think that they are the only way to date in a relationship.
If you view simple things and time together as a date, you can see your relationship blossom despite other circumstances that prevent date nights out.
So, if you are short on funds to pay for a babysitter or a dinner out or a movie, then don’t. Just find things to do together that will work to strengthen your relationship. If you do have time for date nights out, go ahead and carve time for those. And the following tips should help you do that.
Add Date Night to the Schedule
I’m going to bet that in your life you put important things on the calendar – school events, parties, holidays, meetings, dentist appointments, and so on. You do this so you won’t forget these important (or fun) events that will be going on. Are you also writing down a time to date your spouse? Are you setting aside a time each week, biweekly, or monthly for date night? If not, you should probably start or that date night probably won’t happen, just like that errand you keep forgetting to do because you forgot to put it on the calendar (or your to-do list), again.
But, here’s the good news, dates don’t have to take a lot of time. Maybe it’s two hours each Saturday night, or an hour and a half for lunch on Wednesdays. Schedule date times whenever you can enjoy quality time together, whether in your home, with other people, or out. Just put it on the calendar!
Budget for Dates
When you and your husband (hopefully) go over your monthly budget each month, make sure you are setting aside some funds for your dates! Just like you had to plan a set time for the dates, you also need to set aside some funds for it. How much you budget will depend on what types of dates you are planning, if you need a babysitter, how long you’ll be out, and where you want to go and do.
Often the biggest hurdle for dates out for married couple with children is adequate and inexpensive childcare options, at least for those who don’t have family nearby. When you tack on an extra $20-50 for a babysitter for the night, on top of food, gas, and some activity, a date night out can get expensive really quick.
One option is to go out after your kids have been put down for the night, so you won’t have to pay the sitter as much, as they’ll just be sitting on the couch, doing homework, or surfing their phones for a few hours until you get back.
You can also hire a bit younger or less experienced sitters, who may not care what their rate per hour is, as they are just happy to earn some money and experience. You can also not pay extra if they are watching multiple children. You can also go out for shorter dates, and skip the expensive meals, and just do some activity together instead, or just go out for dessert, or just the movie.
Really, you can even turn some errand, like car shopping or house hunting, into a fun date with your spouse that won’t last forever (hopefully).
I do think you should try to pay the most you can for your (good) sitter, but I also think your sitter needs to be aware of any financial burdens you may have. Some may offer to do it for free if you just ask!
Some may want to count it toward some community service, or just because you help them in other ways. Which is another option. Perhaps you can barter services with your desired sitter. Maybe it’s tutoring them on some homework, or driving them somewhere, or helping them develop some skill or talent via lessons or instructions. Just make sure all parties are happy with the arrangements.
But, if you don’t love teenagers watching your kids, you can try to find friends who are interested in doing a babysitting swap!
Partner with another set of parents and offer to watch their kids on Friday night, if they watch yours on Saturday night. Just be sure that everyone is actually on board, and that it’s as fair as possible.
I have known several families who have been very successful with such swaps, usually when their children are also good friends, but also when they are dedicated to date nights as well as the friendship with the other couple. Or again, perhaps barter other services in exchange for someone watching your kids.
And if that doesn’t work, just ask someone to watch your kids out of the goodness of their hearts, or because they are your friend.
Plan the Dates
Whether at home or out, you should always have a plan for your date night! You don’t want to waste half of your date night arguing about which movie to see, which restaurant to eat at, or what you should do. I love the idea of planning all of your dates ahead of time for the entire year, by creating a Year of Dates gift for your spouse. I really feel it eliminates much of the guesswork for you when date nights do happen. Even if you don’t choose to plan out that far ahead, at least plan each date before the night of.
Date Night at Home
For many, dates out are just not very possible, at least not on a regular basis. So, thank goodness for alternative date night in ideas! After your kids are asleep for the night, spend some quality time with your spouse!
While most couples are indeed together at some point each day, it is often spent focused on work, schooling, activities, eating, kids, laundry, relaxing, or cleaning. It’s not always such quality time, or time where we can get past what needs to be done. So, I suggest that you schedule a specific night (or day, depending on your schedule) of the week that is your “date night.”
To make this particular night different from every other night in, I suggest a few things:
- Make it formal. Invite your spouse to join you for a specific activity or event at home. You can take turns on who’s in charge of planning the date, and what you’ll be doing. Or you can simply dedicate that time to talking, snuggling, and enjoying each other’s company. But, make sure you both have it on your calendars, and that you know it will constitute your date for the week, so try to get some excitement up about this special time you’ll have!
- Make it a little special by dressing up for each other, or decorating the house as a way to set the mood.
- Turn off the electronics and personal devices. This isn’t time to multitask – you probably do enough of that already. It’s about your relationship!
- Make them creative! Just because you are still at your house, doesn’t mean you have to do the same old things you always do in your house.
- Actually plan something. Don’t just bank on pillow talk or a movie and dessert as your date night in every time. It’ll likely get old and lose its beneficial date night effects.
These dates, however, don’t have to be glamorous, or Pinterest-perfect either (although Pinterest is a great place to find ideas for date nights at home). Working on a project around the house or yard or exercising together can qualify for a date at home. You can also bake or cook together something that you never make. You can play board games or card games you never get too play because they are too advanced for the kids. Or you can just spend some quality alone time together in the bedroom. But, don’t think that you can’t date your spouse if you never leave your home. You totally can!
Family Date Nights
It may not just be you and your love, but all of your little loves with you too as you go on a fun family date together. I qualify these as dates that beneficial to your relationship, because it is time focused on each other and your family. If you put aside the electronics and distractions, and enjoy your outing, it will be a memorable, and bonding experience for all of you. These family date nights could be things like attending a baseball game, checking out a museum, going bowling, or camping. Hopefully, you’ll get a chance to flirt with your spouse a little while out, holding hands, opening doors, sit next to each other, and just have a little fun and relax. Obviously, taking the kids out can be stressful and taxing (especially at certain ages, and just certain children), but work to find something that will stress you out as little as possible.
I really hope you can carve out time for dates with your spouse and make the time count, and to really bond and connect! It is so worth it to protecting your marriage. Plus, it’s so nice to get out and have some fun!
How are you making date night happen in your relationship? Or how can you start making dates happen?
Katelyn Fagan is a young wife and homeschooling mother of three young kids, including twin preschoolers. She’s a simple, down-to-earth, friendly Midwest girl currently living in the big state of Texas. Katelyn enjoys living with less, dating her husband, reading books, playing with her kids, creating art, singing, dancing, going to church, and blogging away. You can follow her adventures and advice over at What’s up Fagans?