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Date Night

Happy parents make for a happy family.

Legend has it that some couples still get to enjoy going out together without the kids on a regular basis. (Yeah, we found that hard to believe too.) But seriously, date night is important for the health of our relationships. After all, if the parents aren’t happy, the whole family can suffer because of it.

We know, we know, there are a million other things to do first: find a sitter, find the money, find the time... But, it doesn’t have to be like that.

Bethany:

My husband and I used to be cool (really, I swear). We went to hear local bands play at various dive bars, out to eat at nice places, day trips to the city or the beach whenever the mood struck us, you name it. We thought “Hey, that sounds fun” and we did it.

After having kids, things took much more planing. We found it harder to do the things we enjoyed doing together. Now, we had to find a sitter first. (And, if you read our separation anxiety article, you know how hard this used to be for me!) It is a little easier now that we have gotten more used to being parents and found different ways to enjoy some time together.

We love to go to concerts together. Grammy comes to stay the night so that we can stay out later and not have to rush getting home. We make a whole date night of it by going early to get dinner together and then off to the show. It’s a little taste of our past life and we have a great time together.

Another thing we do is what we refer to as “pseudo-date night”. We have the kids with us, but it’s more date-like in the sense that we go someplace that’s still kid friendly, but more enjoyable just for us.

For example, last summer we went to the drive-in movies almost every weekend. We would put the kids in their jammies, bring our own snacks, and go to the later showing. The kids would eat before the show started and we put them to sleep in their car seats. They both did great and our daughter (who was 2 at the time) only woke up once.

My husband and I were both divorced when we met each other. So, we know all to well how important it is to keep the love alive in our relationship. We make it a priority to be not only parents to our children, but husband and wife as well. We don’t go on many official “dates” these days, but we spend time together whenever and wherever we can. We have our shows that we like to watch together, our favorite places we like to go eat out, and we also like to leave little notes for each other. When we do get to go on a real date it is that much more special. Most days we just enjoy being together, and that’s the most important part.

Nicole:

Date night is SO important to my relationship. It gives my husband and I a chance to recharge and remember why we got married in the first place! Not that I don’t love my children and I am not reminded of our love everyday just by looking in their little faces, but the break away from them is necessary...not just for us, but for them too! It’s important to me that other people watch my children because I want them to be well-rounded children who aren’t afraid to be with other people and are outgoing and blossom in the company of others!

That being said, I am very lucky to have a lot of family near by that always love to take our kids! I have my parents and both sisters just a 30 minute drive away as well as a niece and nephew who are coming up on babysitting age so I take advantage of their services all the time! This also makes my children more comfortable sleeping in new places which I know can be a problem for a lot of children. They have no problem sleeping in new places when we’re on vacation or visiting Cappy and Gram in New York because they are able to not only go to sleep without me but in someplace new. Very helpful!

As for date night, there are varying degrees of how my husband and I spend our date nights. We have the fancy date, which we went on recently with friends. We went to a nice restaurant, had cocktails, several courses and went out to a bar after. This reminded me of the good old days, however this date night is few and far between. The normal date that we have is JUST as fun but much lower key (and budget!). We like to go to Sitar Express in Cupertino ($8 Indian buffet folks...and the food is AMAZING!) and then go to Bluelight Cinemas ($5 movies people! And they always have something good playing!). And then there is the at-home date night. Sometimes we just like to drop the kids off and come home!

I’ll make dinner or we’ll pick up take out and we’ll watch a movie on TV. This is always a nice change of pace. Yes we’re home, but we don’t have to worry about the kids interrupting our movie! And we also do a “pseudo date” like Bethany. Sometimes we’ll just take the kids out to a restaurant that is kid friendly for a nice evening out! Camera Cinemas at the Pruneyard also does a once monthly date night where you can bring your kids (they have kid-friendly lighting and sound) so you can keep up with current movies, even with the kids! Just getting out of the house can be a recharge in itself!

All in all, spending time out of the house alone with your partner is so important to helping the relationship thrive! And for us, it also helps our children get some separation from us and gives the family some alone time with them!

Rachael:

Ahh the legendary “date night.” I have heard of this mythical occasion, but have yet to experience it myself. Not for lack of wanting, mind you, but the harsh reality is that our closest family live three hours away, and my husband works at a start up. That last bit right there is enough to cause our “Date Night” to be D.O.A.  

Despite the fact that date night may be out of reach at the moment, my husband and I do what we can to stay in touch with each other. Every week we have a little two-person party at our place. Come Friday, hubs brings home a six pack, and once the little Meatball is in bed, it’s party time!

Okay, so our rendition of party time is a little watered down: Howlin’ Wolf on Pandora, leftovers and a Sierra Nevada or two. I’ll admit it’s not quite as exciting as going out on the town or bar hopping used to be, but it still serves it’s purpose; we get a little one-on-one time to relax, take off the Mommy/Daddy suit, and remind ourselves of who we really are and why we chose each other.   

At the core of it all; remembering who you both are is really the purpose of having a date night in the first place. Where that “date night” takes place is irrelevant. All that matters is that you and your S.O. get the chance to relax, engage with each other and recharge. Truth be told, sometimes that date night may end up a date *fight,* but I don’t see the harm in that, either.

Sometimes you just need to get it all out there and clear the air, which can be difficult to do with kids around. This is your chance. Whatever happens in your “one-on-one” time, the fact that you’re taking the initiative to spend time with each other will have an effect on your relationship (hopefully a positive one!). So, here’s to date night - may you enjoy them all and have many more! Salute!

“Date Night” doesn’t necessarily have to be an official date, or even be at night. The important thing is that us parents spend some time together without the kids. You can simply put the kids to bed a little early and watch a (non-Disney) movie together. Or how about a day date? If you are lucky enough to have kids who still nap you can have somebody come over to sit with them while you sneak out for a bit together. (Or once again, just stay in and enjoy some alone time.)

It’s really just a time to reconnect and enjoy being a couple again. You will come back a stronger couple and better parents, so set aside any excuses and just make some time for each other.

Don't forget to check out Campbell Patch - Mom Squad on Facebook! We answer your questions, take your suggestions, and offer up support to our fellow Moms.

Adelle Gabrielson February 21, 2012 at 02:24 AM
So, so, so, so need to get out every once in a while! It is so true - a happy marriage makes for better parents! When we can't get (or can't afford) a sitter, we have also enjoyed "Date Night a Casa" in which kiddos are asleep by 7:30 (or at least IN their beds) and we enjoy a yummy candlelit dinner provided by Trader Joe's freezer section and a bottle of wine. And *gasp* we actually sit and talk to each other! It fills in the gaps until we can get out again.
Bethany Curran February 21, 2012 at 06:15 AM
Thanks for sharing, Adelle! :) Doesn't really matter where you are or what you do, so long as you get some time to just be a couple and remember why you fell in love in the first place.
Priyanka Sharma-Sindhar February 21, 2012 at 07:35 PM
Love the mom squad and the advice it offers.. This one really did make me smile. I completely agree that a date night doesn't have to be at night... and it certainly doesn't need to be an official date. I love that you ladies have such a flexible world-view of all things "parenting." It's very refreshing.
Mayra Flores de Marcotte February 21, 2012 at 10:06 PM
Love this piece! I wholeheartedly agree. Date night is not only vital to your marriage, it's vital to your parenting and your home. That little bit of time let’s us reconnect and reminds us that we are people, not just parents, too! My husband and I manage to get a Friday night off every once in a while and we make a night of it: dinner, a stroll downtown, maybe dessert, possibly go exploring, take photos and then back home where we take in a movie and snuggle on the couch. :) On the weeks we don't get to go out, we put the monkey to bed and then have ourselves a night.
Bethany Curran February 24, 2012 at 12:26 AM
Thanks Priyanka! So glad to hear you enjoy our little column :)
Bethany Curran February 24, 2012 at 12:28 AM
Aw, thanks Marya. Always great to hear that our editor loves our work ;) Love hearing about everyone's own versions of "date night" too!

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