Date night is standard advice for parents looking for reconnecting as a couple.
It’s easy, isn’t it?
Every week you find someone to take care of the kids and then spend a wonderful evening and night together. After a few hours you feel like young lovers again and all the stress and strain of life will be gone. Love and passion both rekindled, you welcome back the children with relaxed and loving smile on your faces.
In our experience it is not quite as easy or smooth as the movies might lead us to believe.We definitely recommend Date Night and suggest you do a bit of preparation to make the most of it and avoid disappointment and frustration.
So here are our Top Ten Tips for Date Night.
DO make a plan. You might decide to do this together by talking about what you would both enjoy and how to spend the date. As an alternative you could take turns to organise the date and surprise each other. Or you could just decide to be completely spontaneous – though in my personal experience undue spontaneity often leads to disappointment. Date nights are rare and precious so I want to make the most of them.
DO think about what you each want from the date and what would best serve you as a couple at this time. Maybe your needs would be best served by an intimate candlelit meal at home, sharing what you find attractive about each other and followed by a night of close, sensual love-making. Or maybe you would be served best by watching a comedy and going to sleep early for an uninterrupted rest. Or raw, wild sex.
DO use the chance to discover more about each other. Remind yourself that you are both constantly changing and talk about subjects you rarely touch on. Ask each other questions about your inner world, your hopes, your dreams and what keeps you fully alive. If you have the desire, discover more about what turns your partner on and the pleasures of each other’s bodies.
DO leave the kids where you are certain they will be cared for in a way that allows you to relax. Family and close friends are ideal, while the neighbour’s 16 year-old you hardly know might not be. You want to be fully present to each other and not worrying if your child carer is feeding your precious kid copious amounts of ice cream and watching age-inappropriate TV all evening.
DO make it a regular and special event. Weekly is great. Monthly if you can’t manage weekly. Also consider romantic weekends away.
DON’T use the date night as a chance to unload all your frustrations on each other. A colleague of mine was wondering why her husband was starting to dread their weekly date night. Until she realised she was using it as a chance to off load all the things that had built up between them over the previous 7 days. For her it was a welcome relief to get things off her chest. For him it was heavy and intense and not what he had in mind for date night.
DON’T try to pack in too much as though you are on rush to catch up on all the things you’ve missed. Consider setting a general theme for the date. For example, Romance? Relaxation? Exploration? Culture? Food? The Future? When you are both clear about the main idea of this date night then you will tune in and enjoy it more. If you can make date night a regular thing then you can vary the theme week by week.
DON’T set your expectations too high, especially the first few times you do it. If your kids are very young then an ideal night without the kids could very well be a good 10 hours sleep without interruption and not much time talking. If your kids are older then it might have been years since you had a date and chances are you are both quite rusty. So take it easy and be gentle with yourselves.
DON’T spend the date talking about the children. You are not a bad parent if you take a few hours without thinking about them. Date night is for you and your partner as a couple, not as parents, and bringing the kids as topics of conversation defeats the point.
DON’T let Covid stop you connecting. Through these times of restrictions and health safety it has certainly become challenging to set up an ideal date night. Don’t let it stop you though – get creative and look for small, practical ways you can build in date time. For the last year we have had a weekly date night at home with our daughter still with us. The agreement is that she has Wednesday evening where she can do what she wants and stays in her room. We have the evening to ourselves. It’s not perfect and means nights of wild passion are out of the question – but it is better than nothing. So we use the time to catch up and focus on us and what we enjoy. And usually we take in a couple of episodes of an adult rated Netflix show.
If you some have tips to share, we would love to read them in the comments to this article.