Help! Date Ideas for a Young Mom + a Contest

February 12, 2014

in the generous life

♥ ♥ ♥ 2 days until Valentine’s Day ♥ ♥ ♥

I had an email from a generous wife (thanks, Sonja!) that could use a little creative help. Here is her situation:

I’m wondering if you have any suggestions for connecting with your spouse during the intense years of having little ones in the home. It’s really easy to get out of the house and go out on dates when your children are older or grown, but it’s really hard to get the much needed time out of the house, alone, together in the young child rearing years. One of my goals for 2014 was to have a date once a month, out of the house. But, this gets expensive with childcare. We have gotten really good with at home dates (ice cream treats when the kids are in bed, tea in the afternoon at nap time - when they both sleep), but wondering if you have any suggestions that we have missed?

I’m willing to bet we have more than a few gals here who are facing this same dilemma. Making room for dating is really hard when your kids are small and need much of your time and attention. Plus childcare can be pricey. Let’s brainstorm as a group and come up with creative ideas. How do you get away as a couple? How do you take care of child care needs? What other at home date ideas do you have to share? Any thoughtful advice?

The contest:

Please leave your Date Ideas for Young Moms as a comment to this post and on February 24th I will pick a random number and the gal posting in that spot will win a Lang coffee cup (or the book of her choice from the Marriage Book Library).

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The Forgiven Wife: Does Sex Make Any Difference? Amazing post about intimacy. While you’re there, pray for jobs for both of them.

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Creekside Ministries: 5 Ways to Be Safe for Your Spouse We all need a safe haven.

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For Better – Or What?: Let’s Do Something – Part Two Great list of things to do with your sweetie.

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Links may be monetized.
Image courtesy of Amazon.com

{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

K February 12, 2014 at 12:59 am

When our children were younger, we joined with two other families for a date night swap. For instance, the first Tuesday of each month was our night to go out and the parents in another family would either take our kids for the evening, come to our house for the evening or send one spouse to our house so the other could stay with their own children and everyone get to bed at normal times. The second Tuesday was another couple’s night out and so on throughout the month. We always knew that once a month we would have a night out with no childcare costs and the kids loved it too! It’s easiest to do this with families close by, but it can work with families across town too.

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Su February 12, 2014 at 2:18 am

You can do a date night after the kids are all ready in bed. Watch a movie and have a special snack or late night supper. It’s not as expensive as going out and convenient if you do not have a sitter. thx

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Amy February 12, 2014 at 4:17 am

We have some of the same issues, and although we are finally leaving this stage (our kids are now 5 and 8) it was a challenge. Sometimes we trade babysitting with other families – bring all the kids together to play at one house, one couple goes on a date – then my husband would take our kids home to bed while I got the other families kids ready for bed. Things like that. But what we settled on that works well is to get the kids to bed early once a week (even 20-30 minutes is great). Then have popcorn and watch a movie. We still do this once a week. In the spring/fall when the weather is nice, we may enjoy a glass of wine on the back porch when the kids are in bed and just talk. And sometimes one of us will run out to get a dessert treat while the other gets kids to bed and then we enjoy dessert once they are down. WE always know each week what night we are having “date night” and we enjoy it even if we never leave home.

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El February 12, 2014 at 4:24 am

I am posting because I want to help, not for the contest:)
I have a couple of ideas. One is earlier in the day I would tell the kids that tonight I will be spending time with daddy. I would make sure they were fed around 5pm. If it was a busy day, leftovers on bread with veggies is a great dinner. Short on leftovers, it is okay to feed your children peanut butter and honey once in a while. I would also send them to bed with books. They never got to get books in bed:) I would put each child’s books into a bag so there would be no misunderstanding. Sometimes I would get new books from the library. To the most important part, the first night you do this it will be hard as they want to be with you and they do not understand. They like being fed with quality time so they will complain, et al. Calmly go to them and walk them back to bed. No worries this takes time and you will reap the benefits. You may even want to practice this before daddy gets home. When you walk them back tell them that next time there will be a consequence and lay out what that consequence is. Depending on age, you can determine that. If you need help, one suggestion would be to put the bag of books in the hallway for 10 minutes. Set your timer! Keep the consistency or you will loose your opportunity to gain the discipline. Next work on you! For example, do NOT look at the floor of the living room, do NOT look at the dishes in the sink, keep your eye on your man for that time you are with him. Light some candles and turn off the light, which also helps to cover the mess on the floor. Play a game that you remember playing when you first met. Find something you enjoy doing together when you were first married and broke. Make cookies together. This one is priceless as I have been able to tell the kids if they bother us, we may eat all the cookies and there will be no more left for them the next day:) If you consistently do this once a week they will get it to a point where only when they are sick will they interrupt. Above all be patient with your children during this training. It will create such a sweet environment for your husband that he will enjoy the time regardless of the interruption. He will only get upset when he senses you are upset. They like to please us and we like to have him as our hero (saving us from the kids). Do not allow that to happen. Only mom can set the mood. He may seem upset at first, gently tell him to work on something and you will put the kids back to bed. He will sense the gentleness and quickly adjust to it. It is hard to use that gentleness, look at this as practice. Even moms can be trained:) I know as I am a mom, a wife and above all a daughter of Christ and when He, Christ, says to use love for it covers a multitude of sin, I believe it. Gentleness is part of love. I guess I wrote too much, I am sorry, just this is a passion of mine and it is important for us to try to help each other.

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Alissa February 12, 2014 at 4:44 am

We too have this issue, and have had for several years. Kids are now 9, 8 and 5. Our kids are usually in bed around 7:30, but on special nights they are in bed at 7 or an occasional 6:30. Its not usually planned, but when times get cranky…mom and dad have a GREAT DATE NIGHT!! We may read side by side, rent a red box movie (only $1.28) and share popcorn and M&M’s, or take a bath. Other times it’s talking or watching our favorite TV show.
Another thing we do is share kids with 3 other families. When one family needs help they call one of the others for childcare. We are all open to trade whenever schedules permit. One family is longtime friends, but the other 2 have developed from school friends. Kids are in activities together and so we, the parents meet and have developed a friendship also. Our familes live some distance away so I really appreciate the friends that have helped out with our kids. It in turn has helped our marriage!

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Yvette February 12, 2014 at 4:53 am

I have to agree with the others about swapping the babysitting with another family. That has worked for us a few times. Our children are getting older now so it’s getting easier. What about boardgames after the kids are in bed. The hubby and I would love to play scrabble together. This can be done on the bed — try not to move the bed too much. ha ha …

Wish that I could help me.

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Karen February 12, 2014 at 5:03 am

When our kids were young, our family was at least 2 hours away so we couldn’t count on them to babysit. So, we traded babysitting for favors and we also watched other peoples kids in trade. Our dates were often picnics in the park, a hike, swim in a lake, we would go to a range and target shoot gun, rifle and bow and arrow. We would go to a business park or a lake at night, some where empty, turn up the radio in the car and dance in the parking lot. We had a conversion van (4 kids fit better that way) with a TV and VHS player we would sit in the back and snuggle and watch a rented movie. You could do the same with a DVD and your laptop. Sometimes we just drove around looking at Christmas lights, or a fancy neighborhood or out in the countryside. We even went to a few time share events. They gave a free meal or gift for listening to them, they always made whatever they were selling very appealing, but we had no money so we couldn’t say yes no matter how much we wanted to. I don’t suggest doing that though, sometimes it left us wanting more. Take the kids camping, then when they are snug in their sleeping bags, you can have a romantic evening is sitting by a campfire, those were some of my favorite dates. Just keep on dating!!! A marriage is precious and needs to be fed! Hope this helps!!

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mom2abcd February 12, 2014 at 5:21 am
LeAnna February 12, 2014 at 5:42 am

My husband and I have 4 little ones at home so it can be quite interesting having date nights or days with each other! My mother in law watches our kids for us to be able to go out and because she is the “mamaw” she does it out of love and not money so that helps us save on costs. Sometimes just a simple walk or maybe going to a coffee shop is all that’s needed to refresh and have our dates. We also love to have date nights at home as well, 2 Fridays a month when the kids go to bed we make a salmon dinner (doesn’t cost much, usually about 20.00). We both know what’s coming when we start the day Friday morning and its turned into something very special that we look forward to. Something else you could try out if you go to church is see if there is a person there that is willing to babysit for maybe a plate of cookies instead of paying them cash!

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McKinley Brown February 12, 2014 at 5:45 am

My husband and I have struggled with this for years. {Our children are currently 9, 7, and 4.}. Mostly because I am a worry-wort. I’ve found, though, that worrying rarely helps us have more-money-where-we-need-it. What it does do is subconsciously teach my husband that I don’t trust him to provide enough for us, and that spending time with him isn’t an absolute, right-under-the-bills, top priority. Point is, be careful what messages you are sending him when you worry that you cant afford a babysitter. Granted, maybe you really honestly can not afford to go out {my husband has been unemployed for nearly three years, we haven’t paid our mortgage on our own without help, in two}. If that is the case, could you find a like-minded couple with whom to trade babysitting nights? Or someone who could come over after the kids are already asleep {neighbors-you-might-not-ask-otherwise work well for this because they are convenient and don’t have to actually “do” any thing}? Could you adopt a grandma that would pitch in {I met a woman at my work who didn’t have her own children close by and jumped at the chance to involved in our family}? Could you do Dates-on-the-Cheap {there are a bazillion ideas on Pinterest for creative, fun and affordable date ideas}?

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Joy February 12, 2014 at 5:58 am

We joined the YMCA about ten years ago. So we exercise and swim there and the kids have done some team sports for eally free or very inexpensive. But they have free family Friday. We sign up at the end of the month for a Friday and get a four hour period the following month. It works out great for us since we have no family close to us and we had eight children.

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Linda@Creekside February 12, 2014 at 6:00 am

Hey Lori … Thanks for sharing the link to 5 Ways to Be Safe for Your Spouse with your friends here! How cool to have so many of them join me over at Creekside! What a sweetheart you are!

Warmest blessings to you …

;-}

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jill hoke February 12, 2014 at 6:27 am

We traded date nights with another couple for a while. We also have been very blessed to have several ladies whose children were grown offer to baby sit for us.

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Meredith February 12, 2014 at 6:36 am

a couple of thoughts-

we’ve traded babysitting as a someone else mentioned, but done it after all the kids are in bed. So I go to the friends house and sit with their sleeping children while they go on a date, and then the next time we switch. So even the “babysitter” has a super relaxing evening.

We’ve also occasionally waited to have dinner until after the kids are in bed, and then had an extra nice dinner. My husband loves steak and baked potatoes. It’s pricer than our normal dinners, but a lot cheaper than eating out!

We’ve also found that taking the baby monitor and going outside is really helpful. To sit on the porch or at the picnic table means the computer, dirty kitchn, and other distractions are out of site. We are much more likely to sit for a long time and just enjoy time together.

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valerie February 12, 2014 at 7:21 am

Make a standing date for every ____ (ei. Thursday). Kids go to bed early and you and hubby sit down and watch a Christian Comedian or Read a book together and discuss it.

We had an elderly couple in church that didn’t have grandchildren close by and they gave us the idea of letting them watch our children. Maybe you could find someone that would enjoy taking care of your babies. We offered to pay them once, but they were investing in our marriage and wouldn’t hear of it.

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Ashley Tieman February 12, 2014 at 7:28 am

While I’m all for the “swapping with other families” idea that others have posted, I would add that you don’t need to limit yourself to just families. Watching someone else’s children is a great way for single gals, single guys, and couples without kids to learn about parenting. When my husband and I were newlyweds, we would babysit for a couple we knew. The wife would teach me a recipe and feed us dinner; we would watch the kiddos afterwards so they could enjoy themselves. We got invaluable parenting practice/experience with little kids; they got free time. Win win.

Are there single gals or widows you know? They might relish being an “aunt” or “grandma” to your kids and take great pleasure out of spending time with them. Even some respectable young men might be open to it, especially if they want to be fathers someday.

Finally, if you are a church goer….what about the ladies who work in your church’s nursery? Usually they are willing to do babysitting gigs. Or maybe you could try to work with your church’s staff to organize a church-wide babysitting night where volunteers could watch all the kids at once.

There are LOTS of ideas out there, I’m sure you will find something that works!

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Christina February 12, 2014 at 7:38 am

We like lunch dates. These are great because no one is wiped out from a long day, food prices are quite a bit lower and some nicer restaurants won’t be super busy like they are in the evening. Sometimes it is easier to trade babysitting with a friend in this middle of the day set up.

Also, homeschooled teens are a great resource. They are sometimes available during the day and you could trade tutoring for baby sitting. Were you a journalism major that could help with college essay writing? Did you love geometry or chemistry in school? Do you bake the best pies in three counties? These kinds of skills can be very valuable to older homeschooled students. You can help someone learn a skill you love, and you get a babysitter out of it. The perfect trade!

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Angie February 12, 2014 at 8:11 am

It’s very difficult…when you are such a great commodity in every direction…I commend you wholeheartedly for seeking that time with your spouse!!! Love it, keep it up…you have to be intentional!!! Can totally relate, as once was in that stage with a 3yr old, 2yr old and newborn (wow, can’t believe they are now 10, 9 and 7)!!! Anyway, often found myself sleep deprived and such ;) Found brain-storming off activities I was doing with the kids…into “adult play” was a challenge and became a fun game :) ex. Treasure hunt set up for him with a “treasure box” at the end, play dough message for him to find with figures if you want to add them ;) Quick game of hide and seek, color a picture of person back and forth one item at a time (touch arm, kiss ear, etc…you color the spot and spouse picks the adjective :) Any little word of encouragement, touch as you pass by, food favorite, or action on your part for his preferences will be greatly appreciated for sure and if not…have him babysit the kids for 2 hrs while you shower guilt-free and do some shopping ;) then you’ll be on the same page!!! Whisper something in his ear or just a wink…always enjoy the “connection” you two can have, despite the craziness of life and remember God made YOU amazing!!! Thanks for everything you do do & focus on that, not the “to do” (not as in dodo, but that too as diaper changing is very necessary…haha)!!! Warmth & Smiles :)

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Danna Puckett February 12, 2014 at 8:16 am

I was going to say family swap with other couples as well. Also, this year our kids are in Awanas on Wednesday nights. This time has turned into a date night for us at least a couple weeks a month. It has been so nice to enjoy a glass of wine and catch up for 1 1/2.

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Casey February 12, 2014 at 8:35 am

This isn’t so much for the Mom’s of young children, but a word of encouragement for all the friends and families that surround them:

BE THE VILLAGE!

I’m a firm believer in the mantra “it takes a village” to raise kids… if you are able to offer support to a young family, please do what you can (as much as you can) to give parents a break! A marriage is the foundation of the family and if the foundation is cracking under exhaustion and pressure, the family will begin to crack too. Help encourage strong foundations!

My husband and I don’t have children of our own yet, so we try to help my sister and BIL as much as we can. We babysit often (always for free) and take the older nephew for weekends to give the parents a break. The baby is still very young but I assure you he’ll be over for weekends as soon as he is weened. And we love it… ‘Weekends at Auntie’s’ are fun for all of us. :)

This year my husband and I made plans on Feb. 15th and offered to watch my nephews on the 14th so my sister and her husband could go out for Valentine’s Day. Within an hour of our offer, they already had reservations! They have been looking forward to it for a few weeks now. We are thrilled that something so simple as watching my adorable little nephews for a few hours is such a benefit/blessing to them.

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Caroline February 12, 2014 at 9:42 am

Our church offers periodic Parent’s Nights Out, which are a huge blessing, especially since we don’t have family nearby. Maybe a church near you offers something similar. If not there are other places that do, like My Gym, and many Mommy & Me groups have babysitting co-ops – if yours doesn’t, ask if anyone is interested in starting one! I bet they are It’s also worth remembering that friends are often happy to help, even if you’re uncomfortable asking. I once had a friend tell me (jokingly) that she was mad at me for not letting her babysit in so long so that hubby and I could have a date I’ve also found that it’s easier to do lunch or daytime dates, since you don’t then have to worry about messing with bedtime.

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Sara B. February 12, 2014 at 10:03 am

With our first it was SO easy to get away, we are blessed to live close to both of our parents and they are always willing to take their Grandbaby so childcare was free. We also have a lot of mature teens at our church that were willing to watch her for cheap! Now we have 2, a 3 year old andf 3 month old, I have not left her yet but plan to for a Valentine’s date. As far as home dates we put the kids to bed and watch our favorite show together while sipping hot chocolate, one night on the way home from somewhere both kids were asleep in the back seat so we put our seats back and made out like in high school ;-) it was great! We also enjoy sitting by a bon fire, my husband made a fire pit in the back yard so while he enjoys his pipe I enjoy some smores and we have great conversation under the stars.

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Nikki February 12, 2014 at 10:48 am

Though trading sitters is nice, we sometimes even just flat out ask someone if they will babysit for free. My husband did that with our single guy friends for my Christmas present. The deal is that they come over after the kids are in bed, and hang out at our house. No babysitting required. Just being there.

We love free dates. We live in St. Louis, which is known for having free attractions (zoo, museums, botanical gardens during certain times, etc.) and events all year round, and there is a useful website for our area that lists all the events in our area. Even if there isn’t as many as we have, surely there is something. Sometimes places have free entry at certain times (like first fridays or once a month, in the mornings, on Mondays), so we try to take advantage of that. We do things like visiting local universities and libraries to look at their art displays, free concerts, we’ve taken our laptop to the lake and watched a movie by the shore, play at a park, go to a friends house to play games, tea on the back porch, movies on the back porch, at home dates like playing the wii or watching something, but it’s set aside time that we know isn’t for folding laundry or paying bills. There is a park in our area that has checkers/chess built into the tables, so we’ve taken the pieces and played outside. Same with a lot of coffee shops in our area- they have games.

And when we visit our parents (who live out of town), we try to go on a date, too, with built-in babysitters. Even then, we know we can do free stuff like go to a certain jazz club with no cover charge, or drive and see Christmas lights, or attend an event.

And also, we’ve tried our best to ask, and our families respond well, and we get gift cards for Christmas so we can plan dates throughout the year that let us do not free stuff for free. So we can visit classy local restaurants, get ice cream, go to the movies, and this could be for sporting events, or museum passes, or amusement parks, etc.

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Susan K February 12, 2014 at 10:58 am

I came to write about trading babysitting with other families. Guess I wasn’t the only one with that idea! It’s very hard when kids are young. Even just some quick phone calls throughout the work day can help to reconnect.

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Julie February 12, 2014 at 11:00 am

If getting someone to watch your kids is the issue:

When my kids were young we would either swap with another couple—watch their kids for them and visa versa.
Also, you can get a teen to come to one house to watch both sets of children…the couple can go together or different directions.

Tennis, going to a ‘Barnes & Noble’ reading together, picnic in a secluded park, walking their trails is free.

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Leslie February 12, 2014 at 11:02 am

I was very fortunate with a lot of family who would watch our girls for free. However, I read a suggestion of trading child are with another couple that has small children. It’s sounds like a win-win as now two couples are able to have a date night.

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Kristi February 12, 2014 at 12:20 pm

A lot of you will think this is crazy and it is not for everyone, but here ya go. I do not know how old your kiddos are, but when ours were about 4 and 5, we would have a “date” at Chuck E. Cheese with the kids. I know, I know, before you say, WHAT THE HECK????, here’s what we did. The kids were big enough that they were completely entertained on there own. We kept the tokens at the table and would only hand out about 5 at a time. That way they had to check in to get more, (but that was only for a couple of seconds). We really enjoyed their salad bar and would sit and talk, laugh and enjoy each other while eating a not worry about the little ones. Like I said, not for everyone and our friends thought we were crazy, but it worked for us. We did sort of the same thing at indoor mall playgrounds and parks. It was a change of atmosphere rather than the “at home” date, and the kids enjoy it too.
We also did date swap nights with friends for a season. That was fantastic. I hope you get lots of ideas. Happy Dating.

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Michelle D February 12, 2014 at 12:22 pm

I am blessed to live in the same town with both sets of grandparents, but we also don’t want to take advantage of their help too often. One suggestion would be a babysitting swap with another family with younger kids. Another idea is if you know of a younger, aspiring babysitter, maybe you could pay a little less, since they need the experience. I also like the idea of micro-dates. Take a half hour with your sweetie to go for a coffee or ice cream – the date itself is on the cheap side, and you wouldn’t end up paying much for the sitter. One other idea is to start a monthly Parent’s Night Out with your church or playgroup. Take turns with the other families, one family watches the kids each month while the other parents get to have their date night, everybody takes a month so that everyone gets their turn.

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Erin February 12, 2014 at 1:18 pm

Two ideas: #1 – find another couple to swap babysitting. Our best approach has been to plan a later evening date, so we get our own kids to bed, then other mom comes over to stay with them while we’re gone. No work for her, (it’s actually some nice personal time to read or do crafts in a house that isn’t hers – therefore no chores calling her name!) and also this is a good equalizer in case you have 3 kids and she has 1. Idea #2 – do you have a middle school girl in your neighborhood who could babysit while you take a walk? Get your own kids to bed, then this girl can come over and do her homework. You and husband go for a walk around the neighborhood, and the girl can call you if anyone wakes up…you walk right home and take care of problems. You wouldn’t need to pay much, it builds her beginning babysitting resume, and you get couple time. Win, win, win! Good luck!

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Amanda February 12, 2014 at 4:10 pm

I’ve also been suggested to get together with a group of families with children. One night a month (or week if you really like to go out), one mom watches all the kids while the other couples go out. Then you just rotate who watches the kids each month (or week).

We like doing free things. Hiking, going to the park, going to the beach, just going to the mall and window browsing. With young kids anything is exciting that is out of the house–you can go to Taco Bell and you’ll love it. You can even drop the kids off somewhere else, and go home just the two of you to play cards or board games and have a romantic evening without interruptions.

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Emily L February 12, 2014 at 5:25 pm

A Winter Picnic! Lay out a blanket- light tons of candles, and have everything in a winter theme. My husband’s birthday is in the dead of winter and we need a way to enjoy ourselves! I usually make a picnic invite, too!

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laura d. February 12, 2014 at 6:39 pm

We found friends with kids similar to our kid’s age and we would swap babysitting. So one night we would watch their kids and another night they would watch ours. It worked out nice because it was free. You might have to flip a coin to see who gets Valentine’s night!! So just both decide to celebrate it a different night :)

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Alison February 12, 2014 at 9:10 pm

When we just had one baby, we would take bubs with us to restaurants or cafes for dates; it really wasn’t a bother, especially before he could talk!
Now we have two children this doesn’t work as well, so my husband has just started scheduling into the diary Friday night date-nights, where we stay at home and watch a movie from Netflix (relatively cheap and lots of choice) or play a board game. Two-weeks in and I feel blessed that my husband has initiated this (he’s a subscriber to Generous Husband so maybe this helped!)

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Ashley February 13, 2014 at 11:55 am

I have a friend who pays her babysitter $20 a month, and makes her goodies every time she tends. You might be able to find a teen close by that would charge less (especially if you went after kids were in bed). Or maybe even swap services with someone, like making gourmet cupcakes for a party they’re hosting in exchange for a couple nights of tending.

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Barbara February 13, 2014 at 3:18 pm

When the kids are school age in some communities the school has a parent night out. The kids come back to school in PJs and with blankets. They have games or movies and popcorn. It is not a late night but gives a few hours to the parents. Everyone has fun.

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Robin C February 13, 2014 at 5:48 pm

I have two little girls- almost two and barely three. We swap dates with my best girlfriend who has two as well. Most Mondays, one couple or the other gets a date from 5:30-7:30! We’ve been doing this for a year or so because it was an oft repeated suggestion on a similar thread on tgw. Thanks, Lori!

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Mrs VK February 17, 2014 at 5:21 am

We have a grandma who loves to watch our children and we can ask her, but for a really good date night, I usually try to plan at home. There have been a few over our “short” marriage that I would like to repeat from time to time and some I repeat more often. Once I took my husband “out to eat” yes, out from the dining room to the living room! Ha! This may not be interesting for some of you but we are almost never in our living room except when we have guest or need to hang wet clothes up to dry. I made a special meal, set up a little table and decorated with candles and fake greenery (that I use around my house for decor). That was very special, but it did take a lot of work. We have enough room in our bedroom for a loveseat. This has opened the possibility of putting the children to bed and just shutting the door and having a private place to enjoy sitting and talking or whatever. So another time I put the table upstairs in our bedroom and we had desert together after the children were in bed. My husband is not big on planned dates so it works better if they are spur of the moment or if I know he will have time, then plan accordingly

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Ouida Boyd February 17, 2014 at 6:16 am

We found that the children could handle a simple supper on their own a lot younger than we thought. I would set up a card table in our bedroom with cloth and candles (sometimes the girls would even do it). They would often serve us food and call us or knock to see if we were ready for dessert. It was great to have an hour or so on our own for grown-up conversation. I think they kind of liked the idea of being “on their own” also.

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Valerie February 18, 2014 at 11:05 am

We have two young children and also do many in-home date nights. We’ve found that swapping with another couple works great when you do want to get out of the house together and not feel obligated to pay a babysitter. We watch their kids one night and they do it for us the next weekend.

Our last “date night” was supposed to be on Valentine’s Day, but we got snowed in and our babysitter couldn’t come. So we played Yatzee (like we used to when we were first married) and then we just layed on our bed (waiting for clean sheets to dry) and asked each other questions about our favorites of all kinds of things, where we would like to travel, etc. It was fun. We didn’t force anything and just enjoyed being playful and acting more like our young-selves. :)

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Heidi February 18, 2014 at 2:58 pm

We do the child care swap with our neighbors, as suggested above, which is lovely if you can make it work! For the “after little ones are in bed” date, we love doing puzzles in front of the fire, or games like Scrabble or Rummikube, or doing a project that is important to the other one (organizing my husband’s office and FINALLY hanging up the artwork there, putting on an episode of Frasier in the background and tackling the filing and bill paying for the month, etc – it’s not sexy but it’s definitely companionable and leaves us feeling accomplished and happy!)

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Robynne February 19, 2014 at 11:16 am

We dated in the house for years with our 4 kids. There wasn’t anyone to swap with or grandparents available. Our deck became the “overlook cafe” complete with soft Christmas lights and a DVD player and fancy china on the deck table and dancing. The garage became our “drive in” theater when I put a TV on the hood. The kitchen, would become a “learn a new recipe to try together” date night. I set up the large tent in the backyard and it became a private dining in for two. I have sets of china (cheap at goodwill) for two and use it — often. I always got the kids to help on mommy and daddy date night. They helped clean, cook, set up the romantic stop and we taught them to have a sibling night with pizza and games then to have a sleeping bag party. Your house can be lots of fun and kids can be taught to give parents this gift of time. Kids need to learn that marriages take time and work and that parents like to be husband and wife.

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Whitney February 21, 2014 at 2:27 pm

If you have other parent friends in the same boat, you can have kid swap date nights.

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Danielle February 22, 2014 at 12:23 pm

We ask for get-aways when people ask what we want for Christmas/birthdays Family/ Friends will buy a dinner gift certificate and/or free babysitting so we can go away all night. There’s no gift id trade for time with my honey. Win-win

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