Being a parent is a pressure cooker. With each child, the pressure increases. It is natural for parents to buckle under the pressure. Being a parent is constant hard work. It just is. Because of the demands of parenting, the work of marriage goes directly to the back burner, which is really not a good location for the foundation of your family to be, right?
Date night is the savior of my marriage. I am downright boastful when someone says to me, “Wow, a four-year-old and one-year-old twins, you guys must not get out much…” The truth is, we get out a LOT! On purpose. We try for twice a week, but get out a minimum of once per week. This is my best advice to new parents, date night will be the savior of your marriage.
We started this ritual when our twins were born. Once we had a bedtime schedule established, within the first weeks after their birth, we had a trusted adult come over after bedtime (this was around 7:30 as our twins went to bed at 6:30 and our then three year-old went to bed at 7:00). We always knew we had at least two hours before someone was going to be rootin’ around looking for something to eat. We arranged it like this on purpose, so that our sitter didn’t have to do too much, and we could feel relaxed and like everything was under control at home. We stayed close-by (usually sharing an appetizer and a bottle of wine at a neighborhood restaurant) so that we could take off and be home within minutes should a crisis arise. We made Wednesday nights our date night, and we stuck to it. In the past two years since the twins were born, our schedule has evolved, we’ve added another date night to the mix, and we try to get out with friends a couple of times a month also. We have always been socially active people, and continue to be. I have some advice to make date night a success:
– Frequently people seem discouraged that conversations frequently lean toward the children, and I wish that weren’t such a concern. Of course conversations will revolve around the children, it is one of the many things you and your spouse have in common. It’s okay that they are frequent players in your dinner narrative. They are important. Listen, you will never again be able to behave as though you don’t have children, so don’t stress out if they occupy a good portion of your date-night conversation. It doesn’t mean you are not focusing on your marriage, in fact, it’s quite the opposite.
– If you have family close-by, tap into that resource. We are lucky to live near to our whole family. We rotated through each individual grandparent and aunt and uncle mixed in with a babysitter or two so that nobody was being leaned on too much during our early date-nights. You may not be able to find someone to come every week, but you may be able to find someone to help you out once a month.
– When it comes to a babysitter, we have a great arrangement with our regular babysitter. We have a shared calendar where she marks the time she is available, and I promise her a certain number of hours a week for a certain pay. I schedule her on the shared calendar two weeks ahead of time and pay her a flat rate for her hours. This makes it easy for us to budget our dates. Frequently, we end up paying more for our sitter than we do for our dates, but it’s worth it to have the time away from the kids and focus on us.
– Another thing we’ve done in the past is swapped sitting with another family. In other words, one week we’d leave our kids with their family and pop out for an hour or two, and then next week we’d take their kids to allow them some time together. It’s a win/win!
– Reframe the way you look at dates. On weeks that we haven’t been able to get out on the town, we have dates in our dining room while the kids are sleeping. We feed the kids and put them down, and then make a big meal and sit in the dining room at a table that is set with our fine adult dishes. We have also been known to head out to the back yard with the baby monitor and have a bonfire, just the two of us. A date doesn’t need to be out, it only needs to be connected. Which means leave the laundry and the to-do list for later, put down the computers and the smart phones, and laugh together. THAT COUNTS!
Free Give Away!! Get A Baby Free Date Night!
We want to help you have a night out—so we’re giving away a $50 restaurant gift certificate. To enter, leave a comment in the comments section answering this question:
What do you do on your baby free date nights? What would you like to do? (make sure to leave your email or a link so we can contact you)
- Contest runs until Saturday, October 8, 2011 midnight CST.
- Winners will be chosen at www.random.org on Sunday, October 9 at 8:00am CST
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