When I say I’m anti-“Date Night,” I don’t mean I’m against spending time with my husband outside of our home. I’m anti-“Establishment of a Regularly Scheduled Date Night and Its Associated Costs and Pressures.” With a toddler, a baby, and two needy dogs at home, organizing a night out is a tremendous effort before we’ve even planned our activity, made reservations, or purchased tickets. Hearing so-called experts emphasize the necessity of regularly scheduled date nights, even as often as once each week, serves as another expectation for me as a wife and mother that I don’t feel I can achieve.
If you can relate, let me encourage you. Romance and connection are not strictly found in the realm of the outside-the-home Date Night. You can be disconnected from your spouse at an elegant restaurant, and deeply connected on your couch at home. Since our kids are little and retire early, my husband and I have hours alone together each night. My challenge to myself and my fellow moms in the trenches is to spend those hours wisely.
Some days my husband and I do this really well, and some days we’re fully engaged in tandem social media scrolling while flipping channels, because we’re people. If you’re stuck in the social media and television rut, I offer the following for inspiration, whether you are strictly in the stay-at-home-always camp or you do have dedicated regular date nights.
Step One: Put away your phone.
Step Two: Consider what you might do if you went out and recreate a similar experience at home:
- Would you kick it at a game-themed bar like Pieces? Buy a 4-pack of your favorite craft beer at the grocery store and create a little friendly competition through board, card, or even video games if that’s your thing.
- Would you indulge in your favorite sushi (or other cuisines)? So many restaurants offer takeout and delivery now. We love to order sushi and eat it after our kids’ bedtime. We even have dedicated sushi plates, soy sauce dishes, and sake drinking cups. Ditch the Styrofoam and pull out some special dishes, a nice accompanying beverage, and create a little atmosphere.
- Would you go to the theater to sit through an entire movie you’ll both enjoy? Rent or stream a movie, commit to watching it all in one night, and snuggle under a blanket. You know those theaters that offer wine and upscale snacks?
- Guess where else you can find wine and upscale snacks — your house, via the grocery store.
- Would you attend a concert? This one is harder to mimic at home, but you can incorporate music in a meaningful way. We have a record player, and my dear Maid of Honor gifted us our first dance song on record. We used to put it on and recreate our first dance in our living room, and I think it’s time we bring that back!
- Would you enjoy a quiet sunset together? That might be impossible, but you can catch the sunrise over coffee while the house is still quiet. Start your day by connecting with your spouse and plan how you’d like to spend the after-bedtime hours so you’ll have something to anticipate during the hectic activity of the day.
- Would you escape just to talk? Yes, it requires an intentional approach to engage in a meaningful conversation amidst the distractions of home. That said, I know you can do it if you set aside the time and plan to ask your spouse in-depth questions about what’s on their heart (especially if you followed Step One).
These are just a few ideas, and I hope they’ve served as inspiration for you. What I hope to convey is that while it’s challenging, you can create moments of intimacy and connection daily at home. If you choose to augment these activities with dates outside the house, that’s wonderful, too. But if you, like me, find it incredibly difficult to get away from home, take heart. You can still give your marriage the loving attention it deserves without the stress and rigmarole of the so-called “Date Night”.