In your pre-children days, you used to scoff at the idea of ‘date night’.
Every night is a potential date night when you don’t have to wrestle three children into bed at the end of the day.
When you were pregnant, you swore you’d never become one of those ‘date night’ couples.
You would continue to make sure your relationship always got lots of attention and your ‘quality time’ was abundant.
And then your baby arrived.
Since then, you’ve totaled about eight hours of sleep (in three years), you’ve forgotten the art of eyebrow plucking, and you’ve realized how hard it is to find babysitters.
As a result, these days, it’s rare you have the energy to do anything but sit comatose in front of the television screen at the end of the day.
Every so often, you yearn for the carefree evenings of your past life – the theatre trips, the cinema outings, and the drinks after work.
Those were the glory days, and you remember them fondly while wearing an outfit made up almost entirely of baby snot.
What is the definition of a date night?
A date night is a chunk of time you dedicate to your relationship. It’s time away from the stresses of parenthood and family life. It’s the time to reconnect with your partner.
Your night can be about cuddling up on the sofa in front of a movie, or playing board games in your pajamas. It could be sharing a romantic meal at your favorite restaurant, or swinging from the rafters in a fancy hotel.
It doesn’t have to be a big night out. In short, it can be whatever you want it to be.
In an attempt to keep the magic alive (or even bring it back from the dead), you decide you want to relive those wonderful days by organizing a ‘date night’.
It turns out there’s just no other title that really describes an evening like that. So you embrace the term with gusto and look forward to a child-free evening with your partner.
Date night disasters
Well, life would be boring if it always went to plan, wouldn’t it?
As the big night approaches, it becomes clear the kids didn’t get the memo about date night. Or, more realistically, they got it, laughed, and decided to ruin your fun.
Here are 9 things that will inevitably happen on date night:
#1: You wake exhausted after two hours of sleep
The night before is always horrific. What you wanted was eight hours of uninterrupted blissful sleep so you’d be able to knock five years off your eye bags and feel at least partly human on your night out.
Instead, all of your children took it in turns to wake up every 45 minutes, meaning your eye bags are now well and truly on the floor.
There isn’t a concealer on the planet that could take five years off your sleep-deprived face now.
#2: You don’t have time to shower
Do you know those days when you seem to be two steps behind all day long? You don’t have time to enjoy luxuries like showering, eating lunch, or drinking cups of hot tea. Instead, you spend the day raging around with a cohort of children, desperately trying to make it to bedtime alive.
You keep hoping you’ll eventually catch up and be able to enjoy a bubble bath before your night out, but deep down, you know it’s never going to happen. A pits and bits wash in the sink is the best you can hope for as preparation for the big night out.
#3: You don’t get ready like a celebrity
The whole point of the night is to make you feel human again, and yet you’re already failing before you step out of the door.
Remember that gorgeous picture of Gisele Bundchen breastfeeding her baby while a team of professional hair and makeup stylists prime her to perfection? You will be a bit like that, but without the team of talented beauticians making you shoot-ready.
You will apply your makeup with one hand (a skill you have definitely not perfected), while wiping a toddler’s snotty nose with the other, breastfeeding the baby hands-free (definitely one for the CV), and reading The Tiger Who Came To Tea.
The only positive here is you usually don’t have time to apply makeup at all, so you hope the smudged, wonky eyeliner will at least go some way towards making this evening feel special.
#4: Your favorite dress is in the wash
You know the one dress you have that hides all the lumps and bumps pregnancy left behind? The dress that makes you feel young, beautiful, and sexy? Yep, that’s in the wash.
In fact, it’s been in the wash since your last night out. Was that in 2014 or 2012? Anyway, it hasn’t seen the light of day since then.
Instead, it’s crammed in the bottom of your laundry basket, hidden under a pile of muslin cloths, twelve odd toddler socks, and a terrifying amount of school uniform, all of which are always in more desperate need of being washed.
#5: Your kids turn into velcro
Most days, you can’t convince your kids to spend quality time with you without bribing them. They’re usually more than happy playing together, only calling you when there’s a bum that needs wiping or a tummy that needs filling.
On date night, however, all that changes. Suddenly, every single one of your kids needs you all day long.
From the moment you wake up until the moment you fall, exhausted, out of the door on the way to your date, you’ll be covered in children. The baby will need to be held constantly, the toddler will want to hold your hand all day long, and your older child will have a million questions that all need immediate answers.
#6: Your babysitter gets sick
Despite months of warning, your babysitter’s immune system lets you down. Suddenly, it seems date night might be canceled. All of this effort was for nothing!
You ring anybody and everybody you’ve ever met until, finally, someone says she can help out. You wish her luck and then run gleefully out of the door, already mentally ordering your first cocktail.
#7: You can’t decide what to do
There’s nothing on at the theatre, and all of the movie releases look like rubbish. So you both sit in the car, desperately trying to come up with something fun to do.
There’s no such thing as the perfect date night idea; these things are always subjective. You could go for a walk, have a nice meal, or enjoy an evening in the pub. Obviously, it doesn’t really matter where you end up. It’s almost guaranteed you’ll drink too much and talk about the kids all night.
Think of things you enjoyed doing before kids, whether it’s rock climbing or going to see live music.
Or use date nights as an opportunity to discover new hobbies together. If there’s something you’ve always wanted to do, why not use date nights as an excuse?
#8: Your child wakes up as soon as you arrive home
The fantasy goes something like this.
You pay the babysitter and see her out, then you and your partner embrace and slowly make your way to the bedroom…
The reality is nothing like that.
You can already hear your child’s cries from the street and you know the babysitter has predictably not managed to convince anyone to go to sleep. You take a deep breath before opening the front door, only to have your wide-awake child run towards you excitedly as soon as you walk in. You give your partner a look that roughly translates as, ‘I’ll be two minutes putting him back to bed, and then I’ll meet you in the bedroom (winky face)’.
You carry your child back upstairs, already planning what you’ll get up to once he’s safely asleep, and then all of a sudden, you are covered in projectile vomit.
Yep, that wide-awake, clinging child is actually sick. Of course, because it’s date night. That’s actually one of the symptoms of a sick child.
Did you try to enjoy some time to yourself? Yep. But then your child is definitely sick. Another spray of vomit lands in your hair before you make it to the toilet.
You spend the next forty minutes getting your child bathed and changed and singing him back to sleep.
#9: Your partner falls asleep
When your child is safely back in dreamland, you finally have a chance to take a shower. Not because you want one, but because you’re now coated in dried sick.
After untangling the last chunks of regurgitated carrot from your hair, you walk into the bedroom and discover your partner is fast asleep in bed. You consider waking him, but you’re just too darn tired. Happy date night!
Date night dresses
How do you pick the perfect date night dress for your postpartum body? In an ideal world, you’d spend hours trying different styles of dresses on until you found the one that made you feel amazing.
In reality, though, you don’t have time for a fashion show, so grab whichever dress (sort of) fits you and shove it on. Your helpful team of tiny stylists will immediately accessorize it with a smear of snot, a tiny bit of baby sick, and 37 dinosaur stickers (all on your bum, so you won’t actually notice them until you get home at the end of your date).
Is dating important in a marriage?
It depends on what you mean by dating. If you mean, is it important to spend lots of money on fancy restaurants and nights out? Then, no, that’s not important. On the other hand, if you mean, is it important to make time for your partner? Then, yes, it’s really important.
Dating is a way of making time for the two of you, and showing you are still important to one another. It’s a way of showing that you still care about your partner as an individual and that you want to spend time together.
Do married couples need date night?
Yes, married couples definitely need date nights! It’s way too easy to take your partner for granted, especially when you’re living under the same roof. A date night is a great way to prevent your relationship from going stale. Spending time together, and making an effort to engage with each other can make all the difference.
How often should we have date night?
You should aim to have regular date nights so both of you can prioritize your relationship naturally. A weekly date night is ideal, although it might not be possible to find a sitter every week. On the other hand, you could commit to having date nights at home every week and a magnum edition out of the house every month, if possible.
How often you have date nights will depend on your personal situation. If you have accommodating parents living nearby, you might manage weekly date night. If not, you might have to settle for something less frequent. Don’t forget, though, there are plenty of ways to have date nights at home.
Date night ideas
There are so many fun ideas for date night. You can work your way through them all if you want.
If you and your spouse love food, then make that central to the date. Head to your favorite restaurant or try somewhere new.
Feeling sociable? Invite friends to join you on date night. A double date can be a lot of fun. Double dates allow you to remember your child-free days, back when socializing with other couples was the norm. You could also use the double date as a way of reconnecting with old friends or as a way of firming up new friendships.
Romantic date night ideas
If you’re in the mood for some romance, you might want to pull out the big guns when it comes to date night.
Why not recreate your first date for date night? Or, if the first date was a flop, recreate your second date instead! Taking time to remind yourself of the early days of your relationship can remind you of the solid foundations of your relationship.
Reliving memories of your relationship is a great way to rekindle your love for each other. Remember how exciting those early dates were and how desperately you wanted to be close to your partner? Unfortunately, life can get in the way, but that desire is still inside you somewhere.
Date night at home ideas
A canceled babysitter and no alternative childcare options don’t have to mean it’s game over. You can enjoy a date night in the comfort of your own home. Ok, it’s not quite the same, but once the kids are tucked up in bed, you can focus all your attention on your partner and make a night of it.
Get a takeaway from your favorite restaurant, stick on a movie you both want to watch, and snuggle down on the sofa.
Or enjoy a romantic candlelit meal for two in the dining room and pretend you’re in a fancy restaurant. You could even take the baby monitor outside and enjoy a glass of wine while watching the sunset. Sounds romantic, huh?
Or try these suggestions:
- Play a board game in the snug
- Order your favorite takeaway
- Cook a romantic meal for two
- Try out some new cocktails
Sober date night ideas
If alcohol isn’t your thing, there are still many fun things you can do on date nights. In fact, opting for an alcohol-free date might make things more exciting for you. And you’ll have the added bonus of feeling fresh the next day.
If you’re interested in cooking, you could sign up for a cooking class together. It might inspire you for future date nights at home.
A trip to the theatre or a local comedy club would be a great sober date night.
Day date ideas
You can switch to a date day, which could make finding a sitter a little bit easier. For example, you could play mini-golf, visit your favorite art gallery or take a trip to your local science center (and actually be able to read the displays without being dragged away by a child).
You can do as little or as much as you like. For example, you could pay a child-free visit to your favorite coffee shop, go ice-skating or spend the whole day hiking up a local beauty spot. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you’re together.
Date night ideas – how to choose what to do
A great way to decide how to spend your date night is to brainstorm ideas together. You might have quite different date night ideas and what would make for a fun night. Now is the time to put that to the test.
Date night ideas jar
Get an empty jar, two pens, and some slips of paper to write on. Then come up with as many date night ideas as you can, and each write them down secretly on slips of paper. Fold them up and stick them in the jar.
When date night is approaching, grab a slip from the jar, and that’s your date sorted. Rules are, you have to do what it says – and no moaning! It’s a great way to try out new interests and spend time doing things outside your comfort zone.
How to find a babysitter
If you don’t have suitable and willing family and friends nearby to help out, you might need to hire a sitter. If you’ve never hired one before, this can feel like a pretty big leap. So how do you know which sitter is the right one for your kids?
Here are some tips for choosing a babysitter:
- Ask for recommendations. Try to find a sitter based on personal recommendations from local friends. Ask the parents and the kids what they think of the babysitter.
- Check references. Always check references for a babysitter.
- Look at qualifications. Do you want sitters to be first aid trained? Is there anything else you’d like them to have?
- Meet them first. Meet in person before you decide. You can tell a lot just from being with people. If possible, have your kids there too, so they can get to know the babysitter in advance.
For more tips, take a look at 5 Things To Consider When Choosing Childcare.
Also check out BellyBelly’s article: 30 Ways Your Relationship Changes After Having A Baby for more relationship humor.