Date Night Schmate Night
When Jon and I got married, we got some marriage advice. “Make sure you always have regular date nights”. Well, ok. I actually can’t remember much of what we used to do before we had kids other than work then come home, make dinner and watch That 70’s Show. I don’t recall having “date nights”. Every night was a date night. I was with my favorite person and we had fun even if we just stayed home and played ping pong or just laid around all evening.
When we had kids, we got some marriage/parenting advice. “Make sure you always have regular date nights”. “Make sure you get away from your kids at least one evening a week.” Well, ok... I’m not so sure about that. We never really had ‘scheduled’ or ‘regular’ date nights. I don’t think I put Adali down the first 9 months of her life and even had a hard time letting other people hold her. Did our marriage fall apart? Nope!
We had 4 kids in 5 years and we always got the same advice. “Make sure you always have regular date nights.” What is with that? Why does everyone think that dropping your kids off once a week to ‘get away from them’ is such a good idea? When did our society begin to believe that our relationships depended on getting away from our kids on a regular basis?
Look, I know we all need a break now and then. And I know days and nights full of diaper changes, crying kids and chicken nuggets can definitely kill the romance in a relationship. But does a movie and dinner out every week rekindle it? I don't know, man.
I have all the questions because we did mostly the same thing. Except our date night was every 2 weeks or so. But we still looked forward to it with much anticipation. That was, until we started traveling full time.
We have been on the road 9 months and guess what? We have survived without having regular date nights! Weird, right?
In fact, when my parents came down to the Keys they suggested they watch the kids so that we could have a night out. We had no idea what to do. We just felt lost. Then, when we came here to Panama City our friends so graciously asked to watch our kids so we could get away one night. We thought about it for several days and decided we would rather hang out at their house and let the kids play together while we got to talk and catch up.
Basically, we have seen the shift in our thinking. While dates are great (not mandatory) you can actually create your own ‘date’ while you are still with your kids. Sometimes we take the kids out to eat and we will let them sit at their own table and while we sit at a different one nearby. It's enough separation that they feel all special that they’re alone and we feel all special like we are on a date. It’s a win/win.
We also stay up late after the kids go to bed and sometimes we will watch a movie or just sit and talk. And guess what! That’s the same thing as a date. Kids are in another room but we are able to talk or watch a movie without interruption. You can create your own date nights even when you live in a tiny house with several tiny people!
Stay up later. Put a candle on the table. Get dressed up, stay at home and listen to your favorite music. Or better yet, go to bed early and watch funny Jimmy Fallon episodes on YouTube! (that may be our favorite thing to do) Date night is what you make of it. It doesn't have to be expensive, elaborate or even away from your kids. Get creative!
You don’t HAVE to go away and you don’t HAVE to do it every week. Don’t buy into the hype. For your next scheduled ‘date night’, try inviting the kids and make it a family date night. You’ll enjoy spending quality time with the kids and they will thank you for including them on your ‘date’. Trust me! The more the merrier!