Kids change your marriage, that’s a fact. Most married folks know and embrace this, seeing the introduction of new life into the world as a more than valid reason to cut back on things like nights out, frivolous purchases, sleeping past seven in the morning… and date night.
You’re a parent. You love your kids. And you love your spouse.
But don’t you miss your date nights?
Don’t feel bad about screaming, “Yes!” right now, whether it’s inside your head or out loud in the driveway, with the windows of the minivan rolled up.
You’re an adult. You need a little romance, some kickback time, and the company of other adults. Not only are you allowed; you’re required.
Question is… How?
The Importance of Date Night to Parents
Whether you have an eighteen-month-old or an eighteen-year-old, there’s always an excuse to not take a night off and spend time with your spouse. The baby has been fussy all week; I couldn’t inflict him on a babysitter. The teenager’s been acting out all week; I couldn’t possibly trust her alone in the house for a night.
Many lifestyle programs like The Diet Solution are piled with research about how being a healthy, happy adult means being and adult sometimes, and taking a break from the little ones (even if they’re not really that little).
You need more than diet and exercise to keep your mind and body balanced. You need a healthy adult relationship, and that means protecting the sanctity of date night.
When To Schedule A Date Night
Believe it or not, the time when date night feels the least possible is the best time to make it happen. If the kids are sick, work is crazy, your kitchen remodel isn’t going as planned, or any other of life’s countless, unexpected bumps in the road has you thinking, “I can’t possibly afford a night off,” but you can.
More importantly, you need to.
When life gets stressful, we tend to convince ourselves that everything is life-and-death, forcing our attention and energy to be consumed by even the tiniest issues in front of us. So, if you’re feeling like life’s too crazy for a break, you’re probably just too stressed out to realize that life is just being life, and a break is exactly what you need.
Where To Go On Parents’ Date Night
Of course, if you’re like most couples, your nights only have an hour or two of free time between getting home from work, eating a healthy dinner, then getting the kids through homework, soccer practice, and off to bed. So a dinner reservation, even on the weekend, might be hard to squeeze in.
But there’s no rule against hiring a babysitter and then staying in. There’s also no rule about having a date with the kids in tow.
A candlelit dinner in the living room while the kids are asleep, working on a science project, or watching TV upstairs can be just as romantic as an expensive Italian restaurant—not to mention cheaper, and healthier.
Don’t Let Obstacles Stop You From Taking Date Night
Take a look at your spouse; you’re still just as wild about each other as you were when you got married, right? You still make each other laugh, still support each other through stressful times, and still want to be the first person each other sees in the morning and the last they see at night.
So why aren’t you putting the same effort into your marriage now that you’re parents as you did when you were newlyweds?
It’s a scary thought, but many couples end up drifting apart once their kids are grown and out of the house, realizing that years of what they thought was happy, healthy marriage, was just collaborative child-rearing.
You need to ensure that you’re both parents and romantic partners. Kids will never be “in the way,” but you’re likely using them as a mental block to stop yourself from indulging in some well-deserved adult time.
Make a point to take a half hour before bedtime to spend time with your spouse, either talking in bed before turning the lights off or sipping a glass of wine on the back porch as the sun goes down.
Adding a little moment of romance to your daily routine will make carving a few hours out of every-other-Thursday to go see a movie or cook a romantic meal together feel more natural—and essential—to your relationship.