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.
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.
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!