One of the stages that we haven’t hit yet is having school aged kids. Our kiddos are only gone for a handful of hours each week to preschool, so they’re with us all day every day pretty much. I keep thinking that when they get older, are at school every day and are more independent, we’ll have more time for date night. But then I remember that there will be extracurricular activities and school programs and more friend time. And I know that even though that stage of our family will be a lot different than the one we are in, it will still come with challenges and obstacles that will require us to put forth intentional effort to make time for date night and our marriage.
Even though this isn’t a stage of marriage that we’re familiar with yet, I hope that the ideas listed below will help you find more time for date night and quality time as a couple. Your children are watching you and looking to you for an example of what a healthy marriage looks like. Show them that your marriage is important to you by making date night and time together a priority on a regular basis. They might push back a bit in the moment, but by maintaining your boundaries, the foundation of your family will stay strong and your kids will remember the care that you gave your marriage as they grow older.
For even more date ideas check out the Prioritizing Date Night e-book with over 300 date night ideas for couples in every stage of life and tips for making date night happen no matter what obstacles your quality time faces.
Date Night Ideas for Parent of Young Kids
Brunch or lunch dates
We love lunch dates and going out for brunch, but with kiddos at home, we rarely get that opportunity to go alone, unless it’s planned and we have a babysitter. The two of you can take advantage of having kids in school all day and enjoy a kid-free meal together during the week. Meet on your lunch break and enjoy lunch prices for food. If you can swing it, go into work a little late and grab breakfast together after you drop the kids off at school. The crowds will be lighter than they would be on the weekend or a holiday, when you might usually go on a lunch or brunch date, and your date will be less expensive because you aren’t paying for a babysitter and may find discounted prices at the restaurant during those hours as well.
Take advantage of play dates
School aged kids will often get invited to friends houses to play for a few hours. On the rare occasion when they’re all at other friend’s houses at the same time, it’s the perfect opportunity to go on a little date. This might happen a lot during the summer when the sun is out later and kids can stay up a little later because there’s no school in the morning. I would suggest that you let the parents who invited your kids over know that you won’t be home for a little bit and to call you if they need to send your kiddos home before the originally agreed upon time. Make sure you pick a date night activity that’s close to home and allows you to leave if you’re needed. Grabbing dessert or appetizers somewhere, going for a long walk or playing at a park are all great options!
Go on an overnight date
As your kids get older, grandparents and aunts/uncles are usually more willing to have them over for a fun sleepover! If you live near family or they come to down, try to get a date night scheduled overnight. This can be at a bed and breakfast near you or even at home after enjoying some late night date activities. Take advantage of the time together for a very extended date night. Plan activities out, play games and take a bath together, go to dinner, order breakfast in bed, etc. Your kids will be having a lot of fun with grandma and grandpa, bonding and creating a strong relationship and yo'u’ll be strengthening your relationship as well. We try to plan these overnight dates at least twice a year but hope to be able to go on one a quarter as our kids get older.
Sleep in late on the weekend
My husband always talks about the day when our kids will be able to wake up, get themselves breakfast, and play or watch a show without us having to supervise any of the process. Having older kids is a great opportunity to lock your bedroom door, stay in bed, cuddle, and be lazy together. It seems so simple, but it’s a great time to bond and a nice tradition to have on the weekend or a morning when you don’t have to work.
Plan a monthly kid swap
I’ve talked to a lot of couples who do this from the time that they become parents, but having older kids who will play and don’t need to be entertained by you much makes this easier. Set up a rotation with friends in your area who have kids similar in age to yours. We have a group of friends who got married at the same time as us and all of us had kids around the same time as well. The more families you involve in your swap, the more times you get to go out on a date each month without paying for a babysitter.
The idea is that one couple has everyone’s kids over on a Friday or Saturday night while the other couples go out on their dates. The kids can all play together and everyone can chip in for pizza or you can make dinner the responsibility of the parents in charge that week and rotate for that as well. Plan a few games or activities or put on a movie and let the kids have fun together while their parents are out on a date. The only downside to this arrangement is that you still have to go home and put the kids to bed, but you can continue your date night after that brief intermission.
This is a great way to save money on childcare, give your friends more opportunities to get out for date night and give the kids a chance to socialize and play together regularly.
Have regular husband/wife time
I’ve heard this idea recently that every night at 7:30pm, mom and dad turn into husband and wife and it is their time together. The expectation is that the kids go play in their rooms or go to bed while mom and dad spend time together. This isn’t necessarily a scheduled date night, but it gives you time each day to connect and do something fun as a couple at the end of every day. You can start this daily ritual when your kids are younger, but some nights it might be harder to enforce with little ones who are having a hard time going to sleep. It seems like an easier concept for kids to understand as they get older, but having that boundary already in place will help.
As you are planning your kids’ extracurricular events and deciding what to involve them in, remember to leave time for date night and your relationship and husband and wife. It can be easy to get caught up in dance and sports and programs and fill every spare minute on the calendar with homework, games and practices. Don’t let your lives get so busy that you don’t have time for each other. You are in control, plan accordingly!
Photography by Sadie Banks Photography