Dating couples may take them for granted, especially ones who have been dating for 1-3 years. But it's important to maintain and cultivate regular dates, in spite of the challenges of limited resources (money, time, and even energy).
This is especially true because once you enter the marriage scene, I imagine, date nights become increasingly challenging to maintain. This is because most likely you're going to be balancing a third wheel. I'm talking about a baby, of course. How can this be done?
I wasn't sure, so I've asked around and compiled some fun ideas and practical stuff to do from married couples with children for married couples with children.
A great thing about young children is they have early bedtimes. If you put a baby down* at 7ish, that leaves you with a solid 2 hours free time. So, what can you do?
Stay-in Move Night
- Food options include take-out (perhaps you have a favourite place to eat from) or ordering delivery
- Put on a movie that you both enjoy or haven't seen before - leave some time at the end for discussion (really, like maybe examining the metanarratives and what truth applications you can draw out or leave in - it's about conversation!)
- Consider putting on subtitles so that you can keep the volume low without missing any of the dialogue
Instead of watching movies, perhaps you can:
- Make a movie
- Read aloud to each other
- Complete a giant puzzle
- Play videogames together (sound turned off/low)
- Perform improv or play a boardgame
- Lunch at a restaurant (skip this if child is still too young)
- Coffee break at a favourite cafe (chocolate, anyone?)
- Go to the MALL - a great place for kids and adults alike. Nice place to stay warm during the winter, accessible food courts for food-on-the-go, and possible to run errands
- Walk around. Monetize on the spring, summer, and fall months. Have fun adventuring outside and get some exercise in between.
- Special events: weddings, graduations, etc.
- Just you two? Visit a museum, a zoo, or maybe a hotel room for an hour or two
Bring in the Reinforcements
If you can get a relative who lives nearby to watch the kid(s) for a few hours or a few nights, the above list seems more than possible. An idea could be to team up with other parent-couples and rotate babysitting duties weekly so that couples can free more weeknights together, or simply "swap child care with another couple." Remember it's teamwork that makes the dream work!
The Purpose-Driven Date Night
All of these ideas require something from you: intentionality and priority. "Dates don't have to be romantic, at least not every time. The important thing is that you're spending time together and not washing the dishes or doing homework or anything that will distract you from each other." BUT if you do find yourself needing to do some house chores for the sake of getting them done, why not make it fun? Make a game of it, as long as you're both playing and having fun.
Remember that failure to plan is planning to fail, so be sure to "plan in advance a specific night in the week when you can have a date night at home (and do not get too frustrated if baby/children don't allow it to happen)." Allow yourselves a little flexibility and go with the flow!
Keep date nights as a way to strengthen the relationship between yourselves so that it remains strong for the child. Take an active part in the small things, like together putting the baby to sleep. Play with them, sing with them. Time passes faster than you think; you only have 364 chances to put your "baby" to sleep.
Here's a medical definition breakdown for you:
baby: 1-12 months
toddler: 1-3 years
child- small child: 4-10
Make the most of your time. And no matter what you choose to do (going outside or staying in), be intentional and be loving.
What are some creative ways you have had a date night (with children)?
*I always thought the phrase "putting them down" was a little morbid, like putting down an animal or something. Am I the only one?