You've got date night penciled.. no penned (!!!) in on a weekly basis, so you're good to go, right? Well, maybe.. but how often does date night roll around and you realize that you haven't actually planned anything to do on your date? There was a time in our marriage when 90% of the nights that we had claimed as time for our marriage started out with, "What do you want to do tonight?" "I don't know, what do you want to do?". Most of the time, those debates ended with us on the couch eating takeout while we watched our current favorite on Netflix, like we did every other night of the week. Date nights weren't special because we didn't give them any thought until ten minutes before they were scheduled to start.
Creating my date night bucket list helped a lot last year, because it gave us activities to put on the calendar. But by the end of the year, we had only crossed a few things off of our list. One of the reasons that we fell short was that after we created the list, we didn't sit down and set a time to complete our dates, we just referred back to them when we were in need of something to do. Date nights from here on out are going to be different though! Especially now that we've added kids (well, kid for now) to the mix, I know that we have to be more intentional with our date nights. If we are intentional and plan ahead, date night is more likely to happen and will be more beneficial to our marriage.
Read: 8 Date Night Tips for Married Couples
At some point during the last year, I decided to start planning our date nights in advance. I wanted to try new things together, and make great memories! We've talked about adding seasonal activities into our date night schedule and making them a tradition every year. Every year, those moments pass without us ever following through with those ideas. At the beginning of this year, I sat down and put all of those ideas into my planner, in to do lists for the months that seem most appropriate. The last week of each month, we'll sit down together and use those lists and our date night bucket list to put together a schedule of date nights for the next month.
Life happens and plans change, so we don't always end up following through with all of our date night plans, but it has helped to have an idea of what we want to do. Making a date night plan can have many benefits, even if you don't execute every one of them.
It gives you something to look forward to
Date night is something that I'm always excited about, but knowing what exactly we have to look forward to makes it that much more exciting! Our date night bucket list, local traditions, and seasonal activities are all things that I look forward to. Spontaneous date nights can also be exciting, so sometimes we plan to have an unplanned date night!
You are less likely to miss out on local and seasonal events
Food truck carts, pumpkin patches, ice skating, fireworks, hiking in the mountains, tulip festivals, community events, etc. All of those fun things we want to do that aren't available year round have been added to my planner so that I don't forget to plan them for date night when the time comes. Maybe we'll finally try the food truck cart that parks two blocks away from our house!
You'll know what to budget for
We have an allotted amount of money in our budget every month for date night. If we don't plan well, it's easy to blow our entire budget in the first couple weeks. If we know we want to do something one month that will cost a bit more money, our other date night activities will usually be something that we can do for free or really cheap. This is especially important now that we have the cost of a babysitter to consider too.
You can watch for coupons and deals
There are so many great deals out there that help us save money and stretch our date night budget. If we have a general idea of what we want to do or where we want to eat, we can watch for those deals. We can also use what we know we have in our coupon drawer already and plan around that. I'll be on Periscope this afternoon sharing the resources we use to stretch our date night budget every month. Make sure you're following me so you get the notification when my broadcast is live and can join me!
Childcare can be arranged sooner
Now that we have a little one to worry about, we have to know when and what our date nights will be that so that we can arrange for a babysitter in advance. Deciding the day of that we want to do something without Bensen doesn't usually work, even though we have plenty of people around who love to watch him for us. Our parents and siblings have lives and plans of their own and our niece is in high demand in her neighborhood. I like to give them as much notice as possible.
I'm a big fan of the way Camille and Jacob from Friday We're in Love have organized their date night routine. It gives them a schedule and lets them know what to expect and when they need to plan for a babysitter, without necessarily having to plan all of the details too far in advance. Planning out date night doesn't have to mean that you have to create a detailed itinerary for every date. There is always room for flexibility! Plans will change, and other, more exciting things, will come up. Be willing to shift what you had scheduled or ditch it altogether if the need arises.
Read: Two Things to do When Life Gets too Busy for a "Real" Date Night
Sit down together this weekend and have a date night brainstorm! Put a calendar in front of you and create a list of things that you might want to do for each month. Then plan a few minutes at the end of every month to plug in the activities that you want to do the next month. You'll be able to book your babysitter, make reservations where needed, find good deals or make any other arrangements that you need to!