Taking Back Date Night


It seemed like an easy goal. One date night a month. Every four weeks, 12 times a year, Ed and I would do something fun for an evening.  This brilliant plan failed the first time I instituted, it and each and every time I re-instituted it.

I failed to appreciate how often small children get sick. Alex and his daycare cohorts swapped germs like there was no tomorrow. The viruses always seemed to show up on Friday or Saturday, which made for some fun weekend doctor visits. When Alex felt better, I just wanted to catch up on sleep, preferably before the next cold virus paid a visit.

On the rare occasion we had a free evening and found a babysitter, I couldn’t stop watching the clock. I kept a mental tally of how much the date was costing us. I remember distinctly sitting in a theater watching the Muppet Movie sequel, and feeling angry because the movie wasn’t great, and the babysitter meter was up to $30. Things did not improve at dinner. We ended up at a Chili’s because of long wait times everywhere else. (I’m pretty sure their business model is built on being everyone’s third choice.) At that point we were up to $60 on the babysitter meter, plus movie tickets and chain restaurant quesadillas. This did not inspire going to the effort of setting up more date nights.

My goal was simple. Ed and I needed to do something, just the two of us. Something to remind me that he was more than childcare relief and the guy who takes out the garbage. In a note that came with my birthday flowers, Ed mentioned that I was his best friend. I teared up a little, because in the small-child-chaos and my 24/7 state of sleepiness, I forgot about that.

We had to reclaim date night, and we needed something we could do at home. I saw suggestions online for dancing together (too mushy) or just holding hands (puh-lease). Seriously, am I the only one who needs some hands-off time after having a 2-year-old somehow attached to me for the day? Toddlers do not respect personal boundaries. Toddlers laugh at boundaries.

Prior to having children, Ed and I went out to eat a lot, which I enjoyed. That practice has been suspended indefinitely, pending Alex’s ability to sit for more than two minutes without the aid of Chuggington episodes or ice cream. So, to reclaim a small part of that, I thought we could try getting take-out on Friday nights after the kids go to bed.

We avoid the usual kid-friendly suspects, like Panera and Five Guys, and try to pick a restaurant we haven’t been to. One of us heads out to pick up the food, and then we sit down together to eat while catching up on shows we recorded five months ago. No one is dropping food in their milk. No one is melting down over the “no television during dinner” rule. No one is sitting on my lap and eating off my plate, having rejected the exact same food served to them. It’s heavenly.

I love your faces, but mommy needs a break.

I love your faces, but mommy needs a break.

When I make the food run, I do occasionally feel some jealously toward the people who are actually able to eat at a restaurant after 8 p.m. And I somewhat reluctantly leave the bustling energy behind for a quiet house with (fingers crossed) sleeping children. But even though it’s just dinner, I really look forward to Friday nights now. It’s less about the food, and more about consciously making time for one another outside of our parenting duties. However, thanks to the real Mexican restaurant in the next town over, I rediscovered my love for queso dip and now eat that several times a week. I’m obsessed. So there are lots of benefits to this date-night-in model.

What do you do to connect with your spouse? I promise not to judge you if it is dancing or holding hands. Most people probably have greater affection reserves than I do.

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  1. Brianne Parent says:

    My hubby and I love to reconnect over breakfast, more specifically Sunday morning breakfasts. His schedule is crazy busy with two jobs but takes the time off on weekends. In the morning, the kids are at the point of having the most sleep so they are often docile and agreeable . I love making new and interesting breakfasts and then spending time as a family. As I speak I have my legs up on my husbands lap with our children playing nicely together on the floor.

    • I have seen some of your breakfasts on Facebook — they look awesome! That’s a great idea to do a morning. Things tend to breakdown mood wise as the day goes on, but mornings are usually pretty reliable on that front for us too.

  2. Cassie says:

    The phrase “daycare cohorts” made me giggle. I’m glad I get to read your writing again!

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