Did you know, that according to the National Marriage Project, weekly! date nights lead to greater satisfaction in marriage, better communication, increased sexual satisfaction, and overall reduced incidences of divorce?! However, the reality is that 59% of married couples with a child have less than once a month, if ever, a date night? Does this surprise you? Me, not so much!
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Great, if this isn’t something you already feel guilty about for not doing. You already know you should finding time to work on your relationship with your partner and make it a priority.
But, let’s face it- you are tired, your to-do list is endless, and planning a date night as a parent is a logistical nightmare. Finding a trustworthy babysitter is a hustle; you have to look for nice places, and date nights can be darn expensive.
Throw in a global pandemic and lockdowns to the mix, and you can see how two years and more have gone by since your last date.
That doesn’t have to continue, but how do you keep the proverbial fire burning amid all the chaos going on, not to mention a lockdown?
Stop chasing the perfect date night out of the house and get creative.
We all imagine the perfect date night as parents out of the house. Feel like the days before the kids. But to be honest, some of us eventually are waiting for this forever now. So let’s get creative and find new ways to spend some great quality time with your significant other.
Enter At Home Date Night Ideas for parents.
As it turns out, you don’t actually have to go out to enjoy a date night. You can do it at the comfort of your home and save yourself the hustle of finding babysitters and spending tons of money. Of course, you may still want to throw on something nice and splash some perfume on yourself, but that’s not so much to ask, is it?
But here is the secret to a successful (and realistic) at-home date night- keep it simple. You are both busy, tired parents, and you don’t want to have eye bags and a hangover the following morning. You also need to put those cuties in bed early and plan what the two of you will do for the night.
So, without further ado, here are 8 easy at-home date night ideas for busy, exhausted parents who still want to enjoy each other’s company.
An oldie but a great date night idea at home: Candle-lit Dinner
Are you surprised that this is number one? It doesn’t get any relaxing or romantic than an intimate candle-lit dinner. But since you can go to your favorite gourmet restaurant, you have to set the mood yourself.
First, you need to order your favorite romantic meal, dessert, and a good bottle of wine. Then, as you wait for that order to arrive, set the table with your favorite cutlery napkins and light some candles. One of you can be doing this while the other is taking a shower and putting on something nice, then you switch.
I hope you have a classic record player because you will need it for the music. But if you don’t, YouTube, Spotify and iTunes are full of romantic playlists that will keep the mood going all night long. So switch off your phones, enjoy a meal together with some light conversation, and end the night with a slow dance.
Admittedly, candle-lit dinners get pretty old if you do them often. However, you can still attain the same romantic mood for your date night but with a spa this time around. Run a scented bath with rose petals or bubbles and light candles to set the mood. You can also play some music, pop a bottle of wine, and then get in there as a couple.
If you don’t have a bathtub, taking a slow, music-infused shower will work too. You can take turns washing each other and then run to bed naked.
The good thing about a spa date night is that it’s relaxing, sensual, and will probably lead to some hot hanky-panky later on. It also requires minimal effort to run a bath and light some candles. But if you want to rack it up a notch, give each other a sensual massage and end the night in love heaven.
Stargazing in the Backyard
Speaking of minimal effort, did you know you can have the best date night just lying in your backyard watching stars? If you have a pickup truck, you can place a mattress on the back and a blanket and lie there for hours. Hold each other as you watch the sky, name the stars, laugh at the funny-shaped clouds, and listen to the night sounds.
No truck? You can do all this on the ground. Grab a blanket or even set up an outdoor camp in the backyard and spend the night there. Make sure you have your baby monitor with you to keep an ear on the little ones.
Lit a campfire outside and cooked some smores to get the feeling of being on an adventurous camping trip. The fire will keep you warm and will provide quite a romantic setting as you lay down and count stars.
I sometimes forget how much I love board games and how much fun it can be when you actually play an adult one instead of a toddler game. So grab your drinks, or serve some fancy non-alcoholic cocktails, get the snacks and pick a game.
Any game, I love board games, will work great and help to enjoy the healthy competition and get into laughter. Then, if you want some more adrenalin, play video games and be kids again. The Not So Newlywed Game is a blast.
As you can tell, some healthy competition can be a fun way to enjoy each other. It gets people excited, floods your mind with all those feel-good hormones, and bonds the two people involved for life. But what if you can combine the dopamine effect of competition with the romantic nature of cooking?
I’d nudge you to try it because it’s a blast. I remember when I was a big fan of shows like the Big Canadian Bake-off and, of course, Chopped. Get some ideas from the show and plan a cook-off for one of those date nights. You can also google cook-off ideas and try to crush each other in the kitchen. Be sure to put on some lively music and serve some fun drinks.
The best part about this date night is getting to taste each other’s dishes as they cook and also experience your partners cooking at the end. Then, as you sit down to eat what your loved one has prepared, verbally appreciate the effort and honor their cooking skills. The cook-off may have been fun, but your look and your lovely words as you eat the food will win your partner’s heart.
Date Night in a Box
Sometimes, you fall short on exciting date night ideas because you have done all the common things. I got you. Have you heard about Date Night in a Box? For example, Date Night in Box deliver themed date night boxes right to your doorstep.
Date Night in Box contains several interactive activities, accessories for setting the mood and creating ambience, high quality snacks or mixers, chef curated dinner recipes and connecting ideas with your significant other. Did I mention they are themed boxes as well? One box is a 70s throwback with some really cool ideas.
This is a great way to save the evening and show new ways to connect.
As a parent, I am sure you can attest to how many times you have tried watching a movie or a series and then fell asleep within ten minutes of starting. Movie nights when you are tired and sleep-deprived is not a great idea.
But you know what could be fun? An episode of two of something the two of you loved once. For us, that’s always the Big Bang Theory or Friends. The sheer amount of laughter will not let you fall asleep fast, and you will have a good one hour going back memory lane. It’s all about recreating your youth and remembering the days when you fell in love.
To make this better, order take-out and get in your pajamas.
Get to Know Each other
After ten years together, it’s shocking how many things we don’t know (anymore) about our significant other.
That’s because couples spend most of their time talking about everything else but themselves (the kids?!).
So get some food and drinks on the floor in your living room for a nice picnic and ask each other personal questions to see how well your partner knows you.
The purpose of this task is not to get mad when you find out they know nothing. It is to laugh when you do and then learn more about each other.
Ask questions like, what’s the color of my eyes (close your eyes), what’s my favorite meal? What was my childhood pet’s name? Describe my idea of a romantic evening. What is my greatest dream in life?
Get creative with the questions and ask what you want them to know. If you need inspiration, the Gottman institute (they are researching the science of relationships) offers some great card decks to get to know each other better. You can get a free taster of the Gottman Card Decks from the Apple and Google app stores.
Making Date Night as parents a Lifestyle
I understand. Planning a great at-home date night once or twice is no big deal. But how do you sustain it for the long haul?
Put it on your calendar.
I know this sounds silly, but block time in your calendar and stick to it.
Have you ever heard, “If it isn’t on the calendar, it doesn’t exist?”. This feels totally real for me, with all the things I need to manage.
And to be honest, if I don’t do this, I quickly fill my time with other activities or simply crash on the sofa.
Having it on the calendar brings some accountability to the game, and you find it easier to make time for each other. Even find joy in deciding what you will do together (like in the pre-kids days).
Share the Planning responsibility for your at-home date night.
Planning date night cannot be a one-person responsibility. You can rotate, so one person plans this week, and the other does it the following week. Or you can sit down one evening and plan out the date nights for the whole month together. That way, nobody feels like they are the only ones who care about the relationship.
Appreciate the at-home date nights your partner planned
Lastly, you have to appreciate and get excited about the date night your partner planned. If he went out of his way and bought mash marrows and then lit a fire outside, appreciate that and hug him. If she took the time to dress up, make her hair, and still cook up a storm for date night, mention that and devour the food she made.
The more you appreciate what the other person does, the more they are motivated to do more next time.
I’ll be lying to you if I say planning at-home date nights is easy, but it is totally worth it. Of course, every parent deserves a night out to hang out with the love of their life. But, in the long run, it is these little things that will keep your relationship alive and your home happy.