13 Tips For Date Night Success

Written by Katie Hintz-Zambrano
9:00 am
01/06/15

Photo Courtesy of Kellie Kano

Before we had kids, the idea of “date night” made us cringe a little bit. But now that we’ve dove headfirst into the world of parenting, it totally makes sense. Unless you consciously put time aside for just you and your parter to be together, without a child in close proximity, it’s just not going to happen. And pretty soon you’ll realize months have gone by that the two of you have been left alone, acting some semblance like your carefree, pre-baby selves. With the new year in full swing, we say it’s time to change all of that. Just read through our tips below to help you win at date night, no matter what’s holding you back.

Set a reasonable goal. If date night is a totally new thing to you, why not start out with a twice-a-month plan? Meaning, you’ll steal away a night for just the two of you every other week. Once you’ve mastered that, how about once a week? And then perhaps once a week with a day-date thrown into the mix here and there?

Recruit help. If you have the funds to hire a babysitter, more power to you! If you’re in the same boat as the rest of us who cringe at the idea of paying an extra $30-$60 on childcare every time you step out the door with your mate (especially when your kid is sleeping most of the time), recruit help in the form of friends who are down to babysit for free. We find those without the responsibility of their own children to be the best choice. Ask them which night works for them and then book it. Make sure you repay their generosity with a TiVo full of reality TV and a kitchen full of sitter snacks.

Set up a date night train. In essence, get a few of your other parent friends who are dying for a date night in a rotation in which one parent will “watch” their sleeping child while they’re away. And then you can redeem the same favor yourself once you’re ready to cash in on a date night of your own.

Time it just right. If your kid has a hard time going down without you or your partner, plan your date nights after he or she is already snoozing. The sitter can stay in the living room until you’re done with the bedtime routine, or get involved so perhaps he or she can execute it solo in the future.

Spend a date night in. If you can’t find a sitter or just want to connect in the comfort of your own home, consider booking a “date night in” with your partner. This does not include watching Game of Thrones or Homeland like you do every other night of the week. Make it special. From a bubble bath for two to a picnic in your living room, there are some great ideas (plus outfit inspiration!) over here.

Try a day date. Not all dates have to happen once the sun goes down. We find something incredibly romantic about baby-free conversation over coffee with your love during the daytime. If your regularly scheduled sitter is already booked and your work hours are flexible, this could be an easy one to achieve. Check out a new coffee or tea spot together, have a meal on the beach (if it’s nearby) or with a view, or check out a cool new restaurant that serves breakfast or lunch.

Mind the baby talk. Many of us could easily spend our entire date night reminiscing about how adorable and funny and perfect our kids are, and then thumbing through all of their pictures on our iPhones. Try not to do that. If you’re blanking on more meaningful conversation starters, we recommend buying a Table Topics cube, which is a stack of cards that ask thought-provoking questions, from “If you didn’t have to worry about money, what would you do with your life?” to “What’s the last thing you cried about?” and hundreds more. There’s even a special Couples Edition, and cubes with DIY Therapy, Girls’ Night Out, and Family Gatherings themes. You don’t have to carry the entire cube with you, just pull a dozen cards before you go and stick them in your purse.

The day-trip date. If you’re able to cobble together childcare, why not take a day-trip date away from your home? Take off the day from work, head to somewhere interesting that’s not more than a couple of hours away (perhaps a local winery or spa), explore the area together, and head back home in time for your regular bedtime routine with the kids.

An overnight date. Perhaps the most romantic of all, try cuddling in a bed that’s far, far from your children for a night. If cost is a concern, look for hotel deals ahead of time or check in with your friends that might have second homes or vacation properties that they aren’t using. Also, get a friend or extended family member to spend the night at your place, so that you don’t have to factor in that expense. Just think about how restorative 24 hours away from your kid will be!

Start brainstorming! What’s the ideal date night? Anything that works for you, obviously! Dinner at your favorite spot is great for starters, then try mixing it up by trying out a new place that neither of you has been to. Experiencing new things together—maybe even doing something quirky like taking a trapeze lesson—is a great way to break new ground. Going to the movies can be fun, and ideally with some time left over to discuss the film together (at least on the ride home). Splurge on a couples massage, go dancing, hit a concert, sip cocktails, go for a hike, attend a wine or spirits tasting, see a comedy show, sit in a jacuzzi and gaze at the stars, go to a carnival and jump on the rides, play a game, take a cooking class or tackle your favorite recipe book together, hit a museum (research the free-admission days ahead of time), go shopping and share a dressing room, take an interesting class, play tourist in your own town…the ideas are endless.

Take turns planning. If there’s a natural planner in the couple who gets a lot of pleasure out of it, so be it! Let him or her do all the work. If not, make sure you’re sharing planning duties, so each person gets to both be in charge and be surprised.

Dress the part. Comfort should always come first, but if you can slip on something sexier than what you’re usually wearing around the house, do it! Wearing a dress and heels when you don’t have to worry about chasing after your kid is a rarity that should be embraced. Plus, your partner will be reminded why they procreated with you in the first place.

Keep it up! It’s so easy to fall off the date night wagon. Make sure you make it a priority, since it’s sure to work wonders for your relationship.

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