January 24, 2019
So mmmmaaaaayyybe you’ve always been good at dating.
Maybe you’ve been hit or miss or simply fallen off the bandwagon like Jordan and I did (read more about that here).
Or mmmaybe you just had a baby, and you’re like, “what is life right now?! Dating? No way!”
But what I’m GUESSING is your thoughts are what I’ve heard time and time again—and experienced firsthand, as a mother, as well.
Dating your spouse is extra tricky when you add the sweetest little souls into the mix: kiddos. But this TRULY does NOT mean you have to stop dating! It just means you have to be extra intentional (explained here), creative and redefine what a “date” is for both of you. For simplified help on dating, download my 19 in ‘19 freebie here. And redefining your dates as you need to is a must, because as we go through different seasons in life, it obviously affects our time, our budget and our ability to plan dates. For the obvious example: when you have a newborn. Extend grace and “date” each other how you’re best able. No we weren’t perfect at this, but we also sought out counseling when Luke was around 11 months old, because we were like..”uhh, someone help us get back on track! :)” And here we are now…
What I’ve personally found or observed is:
- family nearby is an absolute blessing, but it doesn’t mean everyone has that option for babysitting
- budgeting for date nights is harder when you factor in the cost of a babysitter, as well
- sometimes you just don’t want to leave the little babes when you work all week
- or sometimes you can’t justify leaving when they’re just so dang small
- Lindsay, there is literally NO time to “date” my spouse with all of the intermingling of schedules
Do you fall into one of these categories?
I’m willing to bet you fall into one or some of these categories of excuses or realities. And that’s OKAY.
But I want to challenge you to think OUT of the box when it comes to dating your spouse, because setting that intentional time aside is worth it on so many levels. And while I’m halfway into this post (and about to the nitty, gritty of HOW you can execute said dates, I want to say that Jordan and I are so not “perfect” at dating. But gosh, who is? Who sets those parameters?
YOU DO. Sit down with your spouse, 19 in ’19 downloaded + printed out, and discuss what a “date” looks like for you. Does it last a certain length? Phones allowed? Expectations weekly, monthly, etc.? What are your biggest hold-ups when it comes to simply “dating”?
Jordan and I have found that we can be really content with “date nights” in after Luke goes to sleep, grabbing brunch when Luke is at Mother’s Day Out, and we both have an hour to give, actually going out somewhere nice or out-of-the-norm maybe once or twice a month (depending). We’ve found a groove, and it leaves neither of us lacking, as long as we’re communicating. (And being the extrovert and 2 on the Enneagram, it’s usually me who feels the need for connecting via intentional dating!)
So that brings me to my 4 Ways to Date Without A Babysitter
Invite one or two other couple friends in and initiate a Date Night Rotation.
Set a night of the week that works for all of you couples, and set it aside. This will be the night of the week that you either go out on a date, baby-free OR watch the other couples’ kids. Make sense? So if the Smiths and Jones plan this rotation together for Thursday nights, the Jones start by watching their kids + the Smith’s kids for a couple hours (determine how long you want these dates to be and at what time) on the first Thursday of the month. The next Thursday, they swap, and the Jones go out on a date while the Smiths watch both families’ kids. Obviously, it can get trickier/harder with the more families you invite, BUT it’s GENIUS if you’re on a budget and don’t want to pay for a “babysitter”. I mean—your friends are essentially the babysitters. 😉
2. Date while the kids are in childcare or at school.
Like I said, Luke goes to Mother’s Day Out, and sometimes Jordan has those days off. We’ve found that it’s really easy (and free—sort of) to go out for brunch or lunch while he’s already at MDO. It’s like killing two birds with one stone. Because dates don’t always have to be at night! 😉 This is where creativity comes in.
3. I think “dating” after Luke’s bedtime has been a game-changer for us (and a huge mental shift for me).
I have become much better with this idea, simply because I personally need to feel connection via talking (and cuddling). And because our normal nightly routine is to watch Netflix or read in bed to unwind, it’s made watching TV on the couch in the living room feel like it’s something special or at least different. Knowing these parameters is what helps us categorize something as a “date”, and it’s helped tremendously with weekly, intentional dates, versus being able to go OUT weekly. With our schedules already being tricky in the evenings, sometimes we just don’t want to be out another evening or coordinate childcare.
- To make it a little *extra*, sometimes we’ll order in from our favorite restaurants, cook a meal together (download this specific date night in grocery list + recipe here!), put our phones up and enjoy a special cocktail or wine. But this is so US. Figure out what works for you and what makes “dating in” enjoyable for you both.
- Yes! Don’t feel bad about putting the kids to bed maybe a little earlier than you normally would!
4. Take advantage of nap times or when kids are at extracurricular activities.
Similar to after bedtime, if your kiddos are still taking naps, that’s golden time for you both! Plan something fun during the day: a board game, bake something together, work on a project in the garage together—whatever works. Or if your kids go to sports or piano lessons, meet up for coffee nearby. Simple and quick doesn’t always mean not good enough.
So can you do it? Did this spark an idea for you that you can commit to? Reframing our mindset on what a date is for both of us has been helpful as we’ve walked through different seasons of our marriage, so if we have not entered one that YOU have, please share your wisdom with us all!
This is so true! I’ve noticed that when my husband and have time to ourselves while our son is already asleep we enjoy each other‘s company so much and learn so much about one another that we don’t even realize that we have missed because of our busy schedule. I’ve also noticed that even though I don’t feel the need to have so much time away for myself he does appreciate it and if anything that is motivation enough to do it more. It allows me to be aware that my husband also needs a break and what a blessing that A convo with me can be that stress relief he needs!
Melissa, thanks for processing all of this! It’s so encouraging to hear it can resonate with you! I’m so glad you guys have realized how special this time is for y’all!!
Linds!!! This is so great! Matt and I definitely have a hard time “dating” since having Ellie… for a lot of the reasons listed: we don’t want to leave her because she’s so awesome and we are away from her all day and week, when we do have time we are so tired we just want to do nothing, etc. etc. But this is amazing advice and definitely doable. I think “dating” after Ellie’s bedtime could be a game changer for us as well. I’ve gotten into the habit of just going to sleep when she does (sometimes it’s very needed) but that leaves little time for me and Matt. I am definitely going to be much more intentional about my time with him! I LOVE your new site and YOU!
SMO! This just made my day! Do know that EVERYONE feels just like you! Haha! And rest is super important! We’ve just found that cuddles + Netflix oftentimes are the perfect simple “dates” for us, and they’ve helped us feel connected which pours into so much. I’m excited for y’all to figure out what works best for you two! Love you so much and thanks for your BIG support!! You seem to be THRIVING as a mama and Ellie is so CUTE!!!