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  • Writer's pictureKindred Spirits Photography

Date Night In

How to Date Your Spouse When You Have Kids, No Money, No Baby-Sitters, and Live in a Global Pandemic

Many of you have expressed to hear more about how my husband, RJ, and I do our "Date Night In". It's nothing mind-blowing, you're probably going to read it and say, "Well duh, that's what I am doing." I am not an influencer, or blogger in any sense, so this is just what we have found that happens to work for us!

Anyways, enough downplaying, I hope you have nice, low, expectations. After all, low expectations are the key to happiness ;) Haha, that's a saying RJ and I have, and not in a way of trying to settle for less, but, it's the reality to life with kids. Adjusting your expectations truly affects how you handle life with kids. Thus begins the planning of date night in: Low expectations.

Do not expect this to be the mind blowing, leisurely, relaxing, date that an evening with a baby sitter and a fancy restaurant would provide. Different is not bad, it's just different, and you have to be ready to roll with the punches that being at home provides. A little backstory: RJ and I are naturally introverted, so this has always been a pleasant way for us to spend an evening. We don't have the need to be out and around other people. When we had our first child a couple of weeks after our 1 year wedding anniversary, and we lived 2 hours away from all family, we had to get creative with how we continued to spend time together. As relative newlyweds, along with a newborn, and having part-time, non-profit (RJ) jobs, there were lots of challenges to overcome. These are the key things I have found that make a difference.

  • Being intentional.

  • No phones.

  • Have a plan for sleep.

  • Dress up. Dress up. Dress up.

  • Choreplay

  • Re-create your old dates out

  • Choose what will be relaxing to you

  • Routine

  • Expectations

Being intentional. We often sit and watch TV every night with our spouse anyways, so what makes it different on Date Night? By being intentional about designating it as Date Night. Talk it up. Ask each other out for a date. Start talking about it the morning of, the day before, etc. Planning is often part of the fun of something, so share ideas, text each other what you're excited about, write down things you've been wanting to talk about, whatever works for you, but make a big deal about it, and be intentional that this is our Date Night.

No phones. We would differentiate Date Night by tuning out work, distractions, mindless scrolling, and have a no phone rule for the whole evening. That has changed for us a little, as we like to watch reels together now on Date Night, haha, but that's the exception.

Have a plan for sleep. As parents, we're often so tired by the evening that most people I talk to say they can't do this because they just fall asleep by the time the kids are in bed. I'm not going to lie, sometimes sleep is sacrificed a bit, but for us, being able to have a whole evening devoted to each other, without kids, is our biggest priority. However, these are some ways we've found helps to balance it out to not have to sacrifice sleep. Pregame. If you can, take a nap in the afternoon before, nap when your kids nap or are at school, close your eyes for 20 minutes after dinner etc. If you can't do that, drink some caffeine so you are alert and able to enjoy your time. I never drink caffeine after 2pm or so, but on date nights I make an exception. Our kids get up early, so we usually make sure to plan it when we know we have nothing to do the next morning. Then, I get up with the kids, and when RJ wakes up later, I go back to sleep for a few more hours. Having that plan ahead of time helps me be relaxed about not feeling rushed to get to bed. We also make sure our kids usually go to bed by 7:30-8pm. Not only is it what's best for our kids, but it allows us to then have up to 4 hours of Date Night time, and still get to bed by midnight. Dress up. Dress up. Dress up. How we feel about ourselves impacts how we act. It may seem silly, but it's part of Date Night. I have worn a cocktail dress and RJ a tie to go downstairs to the bar in our basement. I tend to choose comfier clothes these days, but I always take at least 10 minutes to freshen up, change clothes, touch up makeup/hair etc. RJ does the same, but without the makeup. Once the kids are asleep, or usually, while RJ is tackling James back to bed for the millionth time, I turn on some music, go and have that time to unwind a bit from the day, decompress, and freshen up. It's a good way for me to switch from being task oriented, to relaxing a bit and getting ready for spending time with RJ.

Choreplay- This is a word I recently learned in mommy circles, it's when your husband does chores throughout the day for you as a form of helping you get in the mood ;) Seriously though, identify what things are stressing you out, and together tackle them so that you can enjoy the evening. We quickly found when we started doing this that I had a very hard time stopping my mind from thinking about the laundry that needed to be folded, the food that needed to be put away, etc. So we do a quick straighten up of the house together, and anything else that is particularly pressing, I try to let RJ know earlier in the day, we need to get this done so I am not thinking about it tonight.

Re-create what you liked doing when going out as much as possible. Did you like going to the movies? Go all out, make a bed on the floor, pop popcorn, get movie snacks, make sure it's dark etc. Did you like going out to eat? Re-create that restaurant feel.

We used to love to go to Applebee's for half-off apps, and so instead of that, I would get mozzarella sticks, and other snacky type food from the frozen section. If you can afford takeout, then set the table, dim the lights, and tell Alexa to play restaurant music. Music changes the mood so much!

Choose what will be relaxing to you. All of the blog posts for Date Nights that suggest cooking a meal together, makes me laugh because that sounds so stressful to me. I don't particularly love cooking, and RJ definitely doesn't. We prefer being able to have a relaxed atmosphere that allows conversation to flow without being forced. Sometimes we play games together, lately though even that sounds like too much work. Currently, we turn on a TV show that we're watching through, we usually have fun making a mixed drink, and sip it as we watch the show. As we both relax, and let go of our day to day lists that occupy our mind, the conversation flows more freely, and focuses on fun things, not just what the kids are doing in school etc. When we notice that we're not paying attention to our show anymore because we're just talking, we switch it to Friends, because that's the perfect background show for us because we've seen every episode about 5x. We go through phases of Date Nights. Sometimes we'd play games every time, and make it more interesting by placing bets on the game. We'd do conversation jars where you pulled a paper with a random topic on it to help stimulate interesting talk. We just kind of play around with what we both are in the mood for and have the energy level for.

Routine. The more you do this the easier it will get for you. You will find what works for your family. You'll learn from the past what you both really enjoyed, and what you didn't. You'll form the habit of being a couple who has a Date Night every week. Don't be afraid of doing the exact same thing for each Date Night. Don't feel like each one has to be different. If that just adds stress, it makes it not fun, and you won't make this a priority. By having our routine, it makes it easier for us to be consistent about having them.

Expectations. Often one of the kids will wake up, and we have to pause, and then try to relax again. Sometimes we end up with a kid on the couch with us. Often they don't go to bed as quickly as we'd like and we have less time. Sometimes you're sitting there trying to be all sexy, and you realize you're sitting on a dirty diaper ( I mean, hopefully not, but, you know, life with kids...) Be realistic about what phase of life you're in. We're not going to have a kid-free date night when we have a newborn. We know that date night means us, plus one of us holding the little one, and that's ok. Talk through things with your spouse. Tell yourselves that you are going to try to have a Date Night, that life might happen, and that's ok, you can pause, and keep going. Make sure you're on the same page so there's not that added stress.

If you made it to here and you're still skeptical, all I can say is, try it. And keep trying it. Life is about priorities, and for us, after our faith, our relationship as husband and wife is our number one priority. By placing it above everything else, consistently, we've managed to keep doing these Date Night's on average 1x a week, sometimes more, and rarely missing a week. We crave that time together, because the more we spend time together, the more connected we feel, and the more we want to spend time together. Good luck, and never stop dating your spouse!

Throwback photo of us from a couple of years ago!

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