When you spend your spare time wiping poopy bottoms, wiping snot from noses and being clung to, it can be pretty tricky to keep the magic alive.
Scratch that, it can be near impossible.
By the end of the day, your nerves are frazzled, your clothes resemble dirty handkerchiefs and you are feeling touched out.
The thought of dragging those desperately in need of a wash clothes off your body, hopping into the shower and dressing to the nines is more than a little off-putting.
You may even start to wonder whether date-night could pass as wear-sweatpants-and-eat-junk-food-whilst-staring-at-the-tv-night, but then that would be just like every other night.
The truth is, when you’re a busy parent juggling the demands of work, parenthood and being a human being with needs of your own, you simply don’t have the time you once did to think about ‘dates’. As a result, many parents find their relationship falling by the wayside and getting lost under the rabble of toys scattered across the living room floor.
Once you become a parent, it’s harder to find the time and energy to nurture your relationship, and yet it’s more important than ever.
Date Night Ideas For Busy Parents
Here are 10 minimal-fuss date night ideas for busy parents to help you stay connected:
#1: Go For A Walk In Nature
Spending time with your loved one doesn’t have to cost the earth.
Spending time outdoors together could be just what you need to leave you both feeling a little more connected, appreciative and grateful.
You could spend a day walking through the countryside together, or take a little moonlit stroll in the evening if you’re able to get a babysitter. Walking along the banks of a river or a sandy beach can be soothing and peaceful, helping to facilitate that all important communication.
Make it a strictly phone-free walk, and enjoy some time away from the hassle of emails, Wi-Fi and social media.
Instead spend the time together, just the two of you. You’d be amazed at how quickly you’ll both relax (walking releases feel-good hormones) and talking about the things you haven’t in a long time.
#2: Stay Home Alone
Send the kids out with the babysitter. Depending on their age, they could catch a movie together, head to a museum or have a sleepover at granny’s.
Once they’re gone, lock the door and make the most of your time alone.
You’ll have the run of the house without having to worry about waking the kids up. Enjoy!
#3: Do Something Fun Or Playful
Before you had kids, you probably did fun things all the time.
These days, though you still get to experience them, you do it at a kid’s pace.
You go to theme parks but only really get to go on the rides that are appropriate for your child’s age.
You go ice-skating, but slowly so your three year old won’t get scared.
Use date night as your excuse to claim back some of these opportunities, and do them at your own pace.
#4: Catch A Matinee
Get a babysitter for the afternoon, and head to your local theatre to catch a matinee performance. Tickets are usually cheaper and you’ll beat the rush for dinner reservations.
Once the show is over, whilst the rest of the world is still busy in the office, you can go down to your favourite restaurant for an early bird special.
Then you can visit your favourite bar for a cocktail before heading home to relieve your babysitters. If you time it just right, you’ll even miss bedtime.
#5: Do Something New
It’s never too late to teach old dogs new tricks, and this is a great mantra for date night.
Well, ok, it’s not that great because it does focus on the fact that you’re both getting on a bit, but it’s a good sentiment to keep in mind.
Why not pick an experience that’s new for both of you and give it a try for date night?
It could be ballroom dancing, scuba or woodwork lessons, as long as you’re trying something new together.
#6: Head To A Gig
Remember how much you used to love seeing live music?
The beat thumping through your major organs while you drank stale beer and tried to avoid getting knocked over in the moshpit?
Reclaim your love of music by booking some tickets to see live music.
Choose a band you both love, or one that you have seen together before in a previous life.
#7: Go To The Cinema
Going to the cinema is one of the things that all parents miss when their kids are young. It just never really seems worth going to the hassle of getting a babysitter just so you can sit in a darkened movie theatre not speaking for two hours.
Ignore those fears, get a babysitter and book some cinema tickets.
It doesn’t even have to be a movie you’re desperate to see, you could pick a film at random when you arrive. It’s more about the experience of going, and reclaiming that little bit of freedom together, than it is about the actual film you see.
Spoil yourself and get VIP tickets if your cinema offers it, and enjoy more comfy seats, along with served food and drinks. Kick back and enjoy!
#8: Enjoy A Nice Meal At Home
If babysitters are in short supply, or your child is a bit too young to be left just yet, you’ll be pleased to hear that date night doesn’t have to mean farming the kids out to someone else.
In fact, you can have a perfectly respectable date night from the comfort of your own dining room while your kids are upstairs in bed.
Cook a nice meal, get dressed in your finery, and surprise your partner with an impromptu date. Light some candles, play some music and connect with each other.
An alternative if you don’t have the money for a babysitter is to organise a babysitting swap with one of your friends. Take turns having date nights — without the added expense.
#9: Take A Trip Down Memory Lane
All couples have things they used to do that they no longer have the time, finances or energy to invest in.
Whether it was weekly cinema trips, spa days or city breaks across the world. It might not be feasible to do these things as regularly as you used to, but the odd one won’t hurt.
Organise a surprise trip down memory lane for your partner, so that you can both enjoy some time together away from unrelenting family life. It’ll not only serve your relationship well, but you as an individual too.
#10: Book A Hotel Room
One of the easiest ways to add some spark back into your relationship is a change of scenery.
Changing your environment completely changes your energy. Send the kids for a sleepover at their grandparents house, and book yourselves into a hotel.
It doesn’t have to be a fancy place, even a basic room will do. It’s not about being somewhere luxurious, it’s about taking a few steps away from the chaos of family life. Go out for a few drinks, and enjoy some time as two adults instead of two parents. You won’t regret it.
Even large families find ways of prioritising date nights once a week or so. Make your relationship a priority today, and your relationship, yourself and your children will reap the benefits.
Don’t forget: By having regular date nights, you’re leading by example – teaching your children what relationships are like and what’s important. A healthy relationship (even with yourself if you’re single) provides the foundations for a happy and healthy home, and happy and healthy adults-to-be.
Recommended Reading: For more ideas of how to nurture your relationship, check out BellyBelly’s article 10 Minute Relationship Rituals.