How Your Marriage Could Benefit from a Few Date Nights at Home

One thing that I hear often when I'm talking to people about date night is, "We haven't had a date night in months because..." followed by a variety of reasons including no money in the budget for a babysitter, opposite work schedules, no money to go out, not a lot of things to do close by and no time to travel, etc. In an ideal world, we'd all get to go out for a few hours each week to spend one-on-one time with our spouse.

The reality is, a lot of stages in life make it difficult to get out of the house or put money toward a babysitter and a date every single week. The good news is, you don't have to wait until you have extra cash, a night off or even a large chunk of time together to go on a date. At home date nights have become one of our favorite things over the last couple of years and they could benefit your marriage as well. By being more intentional and a tiny bit creative with your time at home, at least one night a week, you can still make date night a priority in your marriage every single week.

make at home date nights a positive thing for your marriage.

We had to rely on at home date nights for intentional time together a lot in the year after Emmy was born. Because she was a preemie and born right before flu and RSV season, we couldn't take her out on dates with us like we did when Bensen was a newborn. Those date nights with him were perfect; We'd play and giggle with him and then he'd take his usual dinnertime nap while we ate and enjoyed one-on-one time together until he woke up just in time for people watching and more family time. Not only was Emmy not able to go with us to public places when she was a newborn but she needed a lot of extra attention and care. Combined with a busy toddler, Bensen, the two of them were a lot for babysitters and sometimes even grandparents to handle.

We knew that it would be a while before we could get out of the house together for date night on a regular basis again, but we didn't want to put our relationship on the back burner. Each week we made sure to set one night aside for date night and we'd take turns planning our activities. Some weeks we grabbed takeout after the kids were in bed and sat on the couch to watch Netflix or a movie from Redbox and other weeks we got creative and did something a little more adventurous or unique. In order for that night to count as a "date", we followed our date night guidelines, stepped away from our regular routine and gave each other our full attention.

How your marriage could benefit from a few date nights at home

With kids in the house, there were often interruptions, especially with a newborn who cried from 10pm to 1am every night. Some weeks our date only lasted a few minutes before we had to tend to their needs and a lot of times, we weren't able to get back to what we were doing. I remember one night in particular, we got the kids to bed and had an hour planned to play Mario Kart together, but we didn't even get through one game before Emmy was crying upstairs. I nursed her and played my game one handed for about half an hour before we decided that the situation was more frustrating than it was fun and opted for a movie while we cuddled with our third wheel. But those moments that we were intentionally spending together did more good for our marriage than the ones that we would have been not spending together or sitting side by side working on our own personal projects, so we took them.

Now our at home date nights are easier because 90% of the time, our toddlers stay in bed and asleep after we put them down for the night. We appreciate our at home date nights now more because we're able to enjoy them fully and because we've taken time and effort over the last years to find creative ways to date each other without leaving the house. I also feel like those dates at home help us to appreciate and make the most of the nights when we are able to get out together.

How your marriage could benefit from a few date nights at home

Favorite At Home Dates

Movie Night - You need a classic dinner and a movie date at least once a month, in my opinion. Sometimes the decision of what to watch takes up more of our date night time than we'd like. We've discovered some great date night movies that we both can agree on. Click here to grab that list.

Talking and Dessert - We love sitting down with a treat and talking about life. Click here for our favorite date night dessert. Rather than just sitting on the couch, we try to find somewhere "romantic" to hang out. Some nights we lay on a blanket in the backyard watching the stars, on the couch in our front room enjoying a rainstorm, or out on our rooftop.

Indoor Camp out - This is one of our favorite dates from this winter. We got takeout, watched a comedy show on Netflix, and played a game to get to know each other better. Click here for the full post and everything that went into the perfect at home camp out. You could take it outside during the summer months, make it a fun family date at first, then enjoy the outdoors alone after the little ones have gone to bed. (I don't think you'll be successful in camping on your own if your kids are older, but if you have toddlers like us, you just might be able to get away with putting them to be in the house after a fun campfire adventure.)

Cleaning or Projects - This date idea might seem lame, but it's been one of our favorites. We've been known to drop the kids off at grandma's for a couple of hours and tackle the mess in the house while enjoying 90's pop on Pandora. I'm planning a date night next month to get a few little projects out of the way after the kids are in bed. Click here to read about our cleaning dates.

How your marriage could benefit from a few date nights at home

Don't let your inability to get out of the house together regularly keep you from having regular date nights! Plan dates out of the house whenever possible, but don't let the time in between become routine. Make time for your marriage every week and you won't feel the need to say, "I can't remember the last time we went on a date" anymore.

Photography by Sadie Banks Photography

At home date nights can be just as good as date night out is for your marriage.

Am I Paying the Babysitter Enough?

I have wondered on multiple occasions, how much I should be paying our babysitters while we're out on a date. And it's a question that I revisit time and time again. Once I settle on the hourly rate that we pay our babysitters, I start to wonder if that should vary based on the time of day they're at our house, whether the kids are napping or not, if the sitter has to put together a meal, how late at night we're gone and whether or not they had the kids pick up their mess before we got home.

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How to Make the Best Use of Your Date Night Time with a Babysitter

A couple of months ago, I had the opportunity to sit down with a group of women in my neighborhood to talk about marriage and date night. We were joking around about how we always end our date nights out at the grocery store or Target. A lot of times it's to pick up a few things that we need for the weekend, but most of the time, we're looking to extend the time that we're away from home and ensure that our kids are in bed by the time we get home. I know that we're not the only ones who do this because on Friday and Saturday nights, the aisles are filled with couples carrying a basket, grabbing just a few things before they head home. That conversation inspired this post on my local date night blog and it also inspired the post that you're about to read.

I know that hiring a babysitter for date night can be expensive, and that those kid free date nights can be far and few between when you're on a budget. That date night time is precious and you want to use it in a way that benefits your relationship. Date night allows you to escape your responsibilities for a few hours and really enjoy your time together. While I'm not against kid free grocery shopping or errand running, and have done a bit of that myself, we really try to spend the majority of our babysitter nights doing something fun and memorable together. If you're at a loss of what you want to do on your next kid free night, here are a few ideas to get you started.

Enjoy a Leisurely Meal

We always throw a meal into our date night plans and we usually pick a restaurant that has a relaxed and romantic atmosphere, one that we know encourages a long dinner, or one that's new to us or that we've always wanted to try. Most of our meals at home are chaos with two busy toddlers and although they're enjoyable, we don't get to use that time to talk one-on-one with each other or even really enjoy the food that we're eating.

Enjoy a Family Activity, Kid Free

One of my favorite things we've done in our marriage was going on a Disneyland trip before we had kids. I look forward to experiencing Disney with our little ones, but I'm grateful that we took advantage of the opportunity and enjoyed the parks just the two of us. Make a list of activities that you would normally involve the entire family in and pick one two use for date night every once in a while. Visiting a local amusement park, going to the park, a movie in the park, etc. Don't feel guilty if you don't involve your kids in all of the really fun things that you know they'd love.

Plan a Late Night Adventure

From the time that we first started dating, my husband and I have always loved to go on late night walks together. Now that we have two kids who go to bed early, we still go on walks but they aren't as late at night and usually as a family. Those things that we feel like we can't enjoy anymore because it interferes with the kids' bedtime are perfect for date night. Sometimes we take our tennis shoes and pick someplace for a long walk together after dinner and our activity. Go to the drive-in movies, find a park to stargaze or enjoy a late movie showing.

Watch the Sunset

We love to find a scenic overlook and watch the sunset together. You could bring along your romantic playlist so that the two of you can slow dance together after the sun has gone down. Pack a picnic to enjoy eating while the sun goes down. Or stick around after and watch the stars come out.

Cross Something Off Your Bucket List

Every year, we create a date night bucket list of activities that we have always talked about trying or that we think would make a really fun date. I love to put them on the calendar throughout the year and get a babysitter so we can adventure together and cross things off our list. 

When you have a babysitter at home with the kids, you are free to spend quality time together without potential interruptions and the distraction of the to do list that you have at home. Make the most of that time and use it to strengthen your marriage relationship. You don't have to do something grand and elaborate to make the most of date night, but being intentional with your time will make it count. Some nights we come home from our date and I find myself wishing I'd thought of doing something different or planned ahead better. This weekend's date night is a babysitter one and I'm determined to fill it with lots of fun, connection and quality time.

Six Tips to Keep Your Babysitters Coming Back

In the three years that we've been parents, we've only ever had our nieces, parents or siblings tend for us, but I've still worked hard to make the experience a positive one for them so that they'll want to continue tending our kids. Now that we're looking to diversify our babysitter pool, I have been thinking about these things more than ever. What are the things we can do to make babysitting our kids a fun experience and make our home one that sitters are excited to come back to? These are just a few of the things that we've done or are doing to make babysitting a positive experience for anyone who enters our home.

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Three Tips to Help Make Date Night Fun for the Kids Too

Leaving your kids at home while you go out on a date can be difficult. Making the night with a babysitter more fun for the kids could make it just a little bit easier for you to go out on a date. If you aren't worrying about the kids back at home, you will be able to enjoy the quality time that you have together on your date. There are a few things the two of you can do that will help your kids (and the babysitter) have more fun while you are gone on your date. Your kids will begin to look forward to date nights, rather than begging you to stay home. The two of you will get to go out on a date more often and the entire family will benefit from the effort that you are putting into making date night a priority in your marriage.

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