As parents of young children, getting out for "date nights" can be a huge struggle. And while I personally don't obsess over date nights with my husband (I think it's one of the many things that has to evolve when you have kids), it doesn't mean we don't try to get out once in a while and over the years we've come up with some really cheap and easy date night ideas that we take advantage of whenever possible.
There can be a lot of stumbling blocks that prevent parents from going on date nights without the kids including breastfeeding, babysitting, exhaustion or the cost. Over our parenting carriers we've constantly faced one or more of these stumbling blocks but as we've discovered, there are plenty of ways for parents to squeeze in a date night (or afternoon, or morning) once in a while!
Tips and Ideas for overcoming date night stumbling blocks after becoming parents:
Stumbling Block 1: Mommy is Breastfeeding
Solution: Take the baby with youSo this might seem like a silly thing to say but many people don't consider it a "date" if the baby is there but my husband and I don't look at it that way. Usually new babies are very little trouble, they sleep or eat most of the time (I use a sling to keep baby comfy cozy and for easy, comfortable and discreet nursing when out.) And my husband knows that I'll be more relaxed if I'm not obsessed about the baby and we can prolong our date if I'm not worried about rushing home to feed the baby. Plus, the more you go out with the baby when they're new, tiny and transportable, the better they'll be at behaving in restaurants when they're older (tips for that here).
- Choose a restaurant where you can sit in a private booth with tall sides so the baby doesn't disturb others and new mommies can breastfeed privately.
- Or Pick a noisy restaurant where no one will notice if the baby cries (or screams in delight because some baby-haters don't like that either).
Solution: Keep it short.If for some reason you can't or don't want to take the baby with you, then keep your date short. Go somewhere you can hang out for just an hour or two, have some good conversation and spend some time together without being interrupted or preoccupied by the baby.
- Go out for coffee.
- Get some ice cream.
Stumbling Block: Finding a Babysitter
Solution: Use familyAgain, this might seem obvious if you have family close by but my husband and I tend to go on most of our dates when we are visiting family or when family is visiting us. My sister always offers to babysit one night when she is visiting and we can usually get away once or twice without the kids whenever we visit out of town family. It allows us a nice break and lets family who don't usually get to see our kids have extra quality time with them.
- Go someplace new so you don't have to worry about whether or not it's appropriate for kids (or to scope it out for the future!)
- Meet up with friends (it may not be a romantic date but catching up with friends who you don't see often is a lot easier when you aren't being interrupted all the time.)
- Relive old memories by going back to places from your pre-kids relationship.
Solution: Ask aroundAll of the babysitters we've used through the years (aside from the above mentioned family) were people recommended by other parents and/or babysitters. It's a lot easier to leave your kids when you aren't worried about their safety or general well-being.
- Stay someplace close by home (that way if your kids freak out with someone new or the babysitter has a problem, you can get home quickly.)
- Stick to things where you can make a quick exit just in case.
Stumbling Block: Money is Tight
Solution: Swap babysitting with friendsIf you have good friends that also have kids near by, offer to watch their kids so they can go out one night in exchange for them watching yours another night. It's a win-win-win. You get out for a date night, they get out for a date night and the kids get two nights to play together!
- Do a quicker (and cheaper!) dinner at an outdoor shopping/dining area then window shop before heading back to collect the kids before bedtime.
- Look up free local festivals where you can go wander for a few hours and grab a bite to eat while you stroll.
Solution: Avoid Dinner and a MovieDon't get sucked into the norm of "dinner and a movie." Not only does the expense of dinner and a movie add up, but you're looking at big bucks if you're also paying for a babysitter! Plus you won't actually get to talk and enjoy each other's company in a dark movie theatre (plus one or more of you are likely to fall asleep as soon as the lights go down!) Get creative and do things you enjoy where you can stay active and talk.
- Go play mini golf.
- Take a walk on the beach or go for a hike or walk in the park (depending on what's available in your area, of course!)
Stumbling Block: Parenting is Exhausting
Solution: Go out at nap timeThis is our go-to date time. It's easier to convince someone to watch the kids so we can run off together for a while when the kids are all napping/resting/having quiet time (a daily routine in our house).
- Grab a cold one (dropping into a local brew pub is one of our favorite date afternoon activities!)
- Go to a bookstore or record shop and peruse titles together.
Solution: Try to arrange a sleepover for the kidsWe love it when my parents will keep the bigger kids overnight. We usually keep the littlest one because of the breastfeeding thing but as noted above, babies are easy enough to tote around. It not only allows us to get out for a date night, but we don't have to worry about waking up early if we end up staying out late and even get to go out for breakfast alone the next morning, too! (You could also turn your friend swap in to sleepover swaps.)
- Go for the dinner and a movie! Or go to a nice dinner and a theatre show.
- Stay home in the evening, order in food and watch a movie then go out for a nice brunch/breakfast the next morning.