When you become a parent, it’s a major lifestyle change. One of the biggest changes is your ability to spend quality, one on one time with your spouse. The weekend used to consist of relative “free time” to have what now (in retrospect) seems like endless date night opportunities. When you have a baby, your life becomes dictated by feeding and sleeping schedules. That first year is kind of a blur of survival that may have you accustomed to staying at home a lot more than you used to.
For my husband and I, having a date night out is a rare treat. We have committed to making Monday night “At Home Date Night.” There are a lot of creative ideas out there, some more elaborate than others. Honestly, it takes a lot of effort for us NOT just to collapse on the couch at the end of the day and watch Netflix, so our date nights tend to be pretty low-key. But we’ve found that just doing something out of the norm together is enough to make it feel special and to give us an opportunity to reconnect.
Here are my ideas for five at home date nights that are pretty doable for tired parents!
1. Have Dinner Together After the Kids go to Bed
Family dinners are important, no doubt, but nothing beats eating a meal together without hopping up and down from the table for various requests, refills or bathroom trips. Not to mention being able to complete sentences without being interrupted or being peppered with the unending stream of inquisitions from a 4-year-old mind. Options here include making something special that the kids might not eat, making dinner together, or even having something in the crockpot that won’t take a lot of prep time after the craziness that is the bedtime routine. This is also a good time to order your favorite take-out. And if you really want to go all out you could even dress up! My husband and I recently enjoyed take out from Mazah Mediterranean Eatery in Grandview, we lit some candles, listened to our favorite music and opened a bottle of wine. It was surprisingly wonderful!
No Sesame Street characters are allowed! The adult coloring craze has taken over, and there’s something very therapeutic about coloring. It’s a creative outlet, and it gives you and your spouse a chance to sit side by side and, as your mind relaxes, it’s a good time for connecting and conversation. Now you can actually check adult coloring books out from the Delaware Library! You can view others’ creations, sign your name to yours and return it for an ongoing local art project!
3. Game Night
No, I’m not talking Candy Land here! After the kids are in bed, pick a game you enjoy playing together. This is a good opportunity for friendly competition, conversation, and laughs. One night we played Skip-Bo, one of my favorite games that doesn’t require too much strategy. My tired brain isn’t ready for that at the end of the day. It would also be fun to try something new – shopping your local thrift store could land you a new game at a small price. Ohio Thrift has tons of options!
4. Outdoor Paradise
This idea is the date night that lasts all summer. One of the hardest adjustments for us was being stuck at home on summer nights when our kids went to bed so early. We found that we would just naturally end up inside for the rest of the night after they fell asleep. But that’s a shame! If you have any amount of outdoor space, I’m advocating that you make it as much of a “get away” as you can. We live in an urban neighborhood, and our outdoor space is small and often overrun by toys, but we work on making it as relaxing and “luxurious” as possible. I recommend comfortable seating, hanging lights, greenery, flowers, anything that makes being in the space feel like a mini vacation. Chances are, once you’ve had kids, you’ve found yourself spending a lot more time at home than you used to – you might as well make it enjoyable! Take the baby monitor outside and light some candles, have dessert or a drink together and enjoy the warm summer nights before winter sets in again.
5. Movie Night
Okay, so this might be a cheat night – a way to sit on the couch and watch Netflix and STILL call it a date – but make this an official date: Plan the movie ahead of time, so you don’t spend 30 minutes scrolling through 500 choices. Pick up some “movie style” popcorn from Giant Eagle Market District or some boxed movie theater style candy at Target for $1. Maybe it’s just me, but I find watching an actual movie to feel different when compared to binge watching tv shows, so I’m making an exception here.
Give these date nights a try and share your ideas with us in the comments below!