Once upon a time, Mark and I got bored. We would look at our evening, realize there was nothing to do and sigh. Often times we would go out and do something. A walk, going out to eat, or some other activity. That was before kids. Now boredom is a rare luxury that is almost welcomed. Wait, there is nothing to do? YES!
Going on dates after kids is harder than before kids. No doubt about it. Not having a lot of money to put towards it can make it even harder. But, do you love a good challenge? I know I do.
Like I discussed yesterday, dates are vital. So, even though we have not been great about them lately we are trying to get back into the habit.
So, just how do you do it?
Take up offers. In different seasons and in 4 very distinct “groups” we were part of, there has always been someone who has offered to watch our kids. Assuming it is from someone you know and trust- take them up on it. If you have to drive to get whoever will watch the kids, take the time to chat on the drive and go somewhere near the sitters.
Do date night exchanges- you want to go out on dates? I am going to make an assumption here. You know another couple who does too. Why not trade babysitting? Better yet, do what they suggest here and have a mothers night out AND a date night. Truly. Really truly.
Trade- If you do not have money to pay a babysitter perhaps you can do trades? Perhaps you have a skill or something another person in the world would like. Sewing, art, music lessons, fresh produce from your garden, to name just a few examples.
When you visit family- go out. Recently we spent a few days in Springfield with Mark’s parents, we asked if they would watch the kids between dinner and bedtime so Mark and I could go out. They enjoyed watching the kids and we enjoyed not watching them. Win!
If you have family nearby have them watch the kids. Just not too often. I think we might be reaching that mark.
Budget it- Budget what money you can for dates- if this covers the cost of babysitters (and none of the options above will work for you) great! But, even if it does not cover eating out once, or paying for babysitting, budget what you can. We have budgeted $2.50/week before per week, cause that is what we had, and at other times not even that. It was enough to get a few ingredients for a special snack.
As for free or low cost going out dates ideas:
Note: many of these are best mixed and matched together for a full evening of activities.
Go out for tea or coffee. The conversation is good, and it only costs a few bucks.
Go out for ice cream. Same concept, except a bit more costly and far more sweet.
Go for a walk around a park. We have a beautiful park locally that is almost bare after 9.
Volunteer for the day together (a suggestion from a list of dates from a friend of mine).
Have a picnic. Do the whole shebang if you can. Wine (or sparkling juice) cheese, fruit, breads, pastries, quilt. Or eat tuna fish sandwiches. It really is spending time with your husband that matters.
If you have visiting family or older kids -go out for breakfast before the young kids get up. It costs far less than a nice dinner out and is a beautiful start to the day. When my sister Katherine was staying with us we did this. Even now we have sisters spend the night over here occasionally, but Mark goes to work earlier now.
Go to the store and buy something you have never had before. Eat it. Sometimes we experience it just us, but it is more fun for it to be at the end of the date and to share the experience with whoever is watching the kids at our house, or poor unsuspecting neighbors.
This has been painful at times. There was the time we got that cheese to take to the park on a picnic. Mark opened it, then checked the bottom of his shoes to see if he had stepped in dog poo. No joke.
Then last time we tried larabars- not because they are healthy but because I hear such great things about them all around the blogosphere and have never tried them. We thought the lemon tasted like hand soap, the apple pie like potpourri and the cherry we could not decide but it came closest to the strawberry tom’s toothpaste we have that is insanely nasty. I spit each one out. Then went back and got water (to rinse out the taste) and chocolate. First time we have ever gone back to the store.
But it can also be really fun. Like when we tried the horned melon we thought looked like an alien egg and tasted like a cross between an unripe banana and a cucumber. I also liked when we wrapped the mini cheese in corned beef. Yum.
Go out to eat with a groupon. Groupons are group coupons often geographically relevant. It has deals like $20 worth of food at “A Really Cool” restaurant for $10. It still costs, but the groupon helps a lot. It might make something that was out of reach financially, a possibility.
Go to a free event- Such as Shakespeare in the Park or a free movie showing at a church.
Walk around a store- Yes. We have done this. A lot of times. You can play a game such as “let see what the difference between regular foods and their low fat options are” (answer- foodish fillers [lemon peel pith anyone?], sugar, or water) But, just walking around can also be fun.
Go to a prayer house and pray and worship together. Obviously you do not need go out to do that, but it still is nice.
Driving- You do not even need a babysitter for this one if your kids fall asleep in the car. Buckle them in a bit past their bedtime then go drive. And talk. Spend $5 in gas, and have a “kid free” out of the house time to talk. Well, it used to be $5 now it would be more. Sadness.
Go on a four wheeler ride- if that is a possibility of course. At least once when we were visiting with my sister, who lives in the country, Mark and I just went on a short four wheeler ride while they watched all the kids, then they went. No, it was not long and involved far more laughing then talking, but it was still grand.
Don’t be scared to get a babysitter when you do not have a “grand” date planned. It is about spending time with your spouse, and not really about what you do.
Monday- The Living Relationship
Tuesday – (Today) Practical Tips for Getting Out
Wednesday- 25 Unplugged At Home Date Ideas
Thursday- Growing As A Couple AND Family
Friday- HOW To Grow as a Couple ‘Cause Dating Won’t Do It