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.
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.
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.
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.
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