Planning quality date time with your partner… and your kids

Guest post by SaraBeth
Photo by o5com, used under Creative Commons license.

My husband and I recently realized that even though we do manage to get out and away from our kids once a week, the time is usually spent with our friends — not together. We counted it up, and we generally make it out together “alone” on a date less than once a month.

We wouldn’t change the quality time with our friends for anything, but we’re unable to finance a lot of extra romantic evenings away from the kids on top of our “wildly” busy social lives. There are limits to how often we can call in the grandparents, because I’m pretty sure that they didn’t retire so Chris and I could go out to dinner and stare lovingly into each other’s eyes. Also, if we go out on a work night it generally means that Chris has seen the kids for less than an hour that entire day, which I know he hates.

We decided to come up with a few economical solutions to give us a “date” when we feel that we haven’t had enough couple time. As a part of this solution we’ve found the ideal couple to double date with — our kids.

Drive-In movies

I have a real soft spot for the Drive-In that started in the early ’80s when my parents would take my sister and me in the hatch back Celica and we’d watch the first movie (or most of the first movie) from our sleeping bags and then fall asleep giving my parents a night at the movies. As a parent of infants The Drive-In appeals to me because the car provides some shelter from disturbing fellow movie goers if there is a melt down. You also have space to comfort, rock, soothe and cuddle the babies if they need it. As the kids get older we’ll bring special snacks, play Frisbee outside before the movie starts, and watch them fall asleep during the first feature.

Backyard Romance

Getting out and organized with enough supplies for infant twins can be a giant hassle and sometimes we’re too tired to make the effort. Now that the nice weather is here, we’re trying to celebrate in the evening by bringing a couple of beers or some wine out into the backyard, along with the baby monitor. During the day we spread out a big blanket in the yard for them to roll around and free range on. We’re even debating getting a heat lamp for our back porch so we can extend these “dates” into the colder months.

Brunch is Best

We go out at the time of day when our children are best behaved (for us right now this is generally late morning/early afternoon). I am a huge fan of brunch with kids in general. You can get something a little bit fancier for cheaper, and the food is served quickly: you know, in case you need to wolf down your meal in three minutes flat while you bounce someone on your knee. We always order the bill before we actually need it, just in case we need to hit the eject button. There are often a lot of other children around even if the establishment isn’t a “family” restaurant. People seem to be generally more patient and understanding of kids being around during the day and many places offer special child friendly menu options, colouring books and crayons. Our kids are usually really well-behaved at restaurants, but they aren’t silent by any means and make their usual baby noises, including loud squeals of excitement at random intervals. It’s nice not to have to worry about offending other patrons or having to shush your children when they’re just being kids while you enjoy a meal out together.

Dinner and a Movie

This is a bi-monthly tradition we started BC (before children) in the colder months to beat the winter blahs. When the minions get older this is something that everyone can enjoy and work on together in teams. Right now one of us is on childcare/bed-time duty while the other person prepares for our late dinner in. Essentially how it works is that you alternate turns where one person selects a movie and prepares an appropriately themed dinner to go along with it. Chris is much better at the dinner and movie selection than I am. Personal favorites: Casablanca with a Moroccan Feast including sweet mint tea, The Godfather with spaghetti, meatballs, garlic bread and red wine, or Cool Hand Luke with Southern fried chicken and a dozen hard-boiled eggs.

Hopefully this will allow us and others to carve out a little together “alone” time and start great traditions!

Comments on Planning quality date time with your partner… and your kids

  1. The majority of the dates that Ted and I have are with the kiddo. I think sometimes its more fun that way, and more relaxing because I’m not worrying about what’s going on with the kid.

    Another kid friendly date that we enjoy is going to the park. Our preschooler can play on the playground while we relax in the shade with some cool drinks.

  2. Ron and I don’t have kids yet, but these are still great ideas. I love the themed dinner idea and I’m going to try to incorporate it into our weekly date night whenever I can. (Rocky 4 is this week, so maybe cheesesteaks are in order…)

  3. I enjoyed this post. I read so much about how new parents should make time for regular date nights without their baby and it sometimes makes me feel bad that we don’t. But we have a five month old, who we have yet to leave with a babysitter, and we continue to do almost everything that we did pre-baby, with our little one in tow. We even took her along to our anniversary dinner – it was late and she slept through it… It helps that she is a fairly laid-back baby who can sleep anywhere. When she’s awake she enjoys busy, noisy places where she has lots to watch. It also helps that we prefer restaurants and activities that are fairly child friendly – we’re not into fine dining, and we like to be active and outdoors. A lot of our friends have children already, so our baby is always welcome when we’re invited out with friends and family. Maybe as our baby gets older we’ll appreciate some alone time, but for now we love our family “dates”.

    • It’s nice to have the new babe in tow. It seems daunting sometimes when all you’d like is to have some alone time. But hey, she slept through your anniversary dinner! What more could you ask for? That’s one smart baby : )
      Good for you!

  4. We found a great way to have date night sans-baby: season tickets. No matter what the event, buying season tickets means having dates planned far in advance, giving you time to anticipate and time to find a sitter. It also helps get you over the entropy and actually get out of the house because the tickets are already paid for and are sitting there waiting for you. We chose the ballet but there are any number of other events to choose from. We found that it was the only way we got out away from the baby together in the first year. To save some money, try looking at local colleges and universities for cheaper events or split the season tickets with another parent couple and babysit for each other.

  5. It makes me sad there are no longer drive-in theaters where I live. I remember as a kid going to double features with my parents. They had a small playground set up just beside the screen with a tinny sound box so kids could play and watch the movie while mom and dad hung out in the car. I have fond memories of watching Roger Rabbit, Batman, and Dick Tracy at that theater among other movies.

  6. These are BRILLIANT ideas!
    My favorite part is your note on the babies making loud squeals of excitement at random intervals.
    Made me laugh because it’s so true – and TOTALLY AWESOME!

  7. Movie in with a themed dinner sounds FABULOUS – Totally my kind of date! The Drive-In also sounds great – Wish we had some around here. Our favorite theater shows slightly older movies (out of the big theaters but not on DVD yet) for cheap, but we haven’t been once in the past 2 years since our son was born.

    I have to admit, we’ve only been on one real date – out alone without the kid – in those two years. Oops! But we really do have fun with him along.

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