ParentClick Santa Barbara

A Night Out: Rethink Date Night


Planning a date night helps parents stay connected.

Date Night. We have all heard that Date Night is critical for parents to stay connected and inspired during the often chaotic, distracting and draining (and, yes, joyful too) child-rearing years. Sometimes, though, it can feel like one more thing to accomplish on a parent’s long list, or maybe a simple dinner and a movie plus babysitter is not in the budget that week. Whatever the excuse for not going on Date Night, I encourage you to rethink Date Night and the importance of carving out a bit of time for you and your partner to enjoy one another’s company…alone.

My husband and I went to a concert last night and I took advantage of my time with him to do a bit of field research. “Why is date night so important?” I asked. His answer was instant. “It is a break from the routine,” and “It’s all about the effort. Maybe the wife gets dressed up a bit. Maybe the husband goes to the trouble of buying tickets to something or making a reservation. It does not need to be a formal dinner or a show, it’s just a moment in a busy life to show that you appreciate your partner and are still willing and able to make an extra effort.”

He could not have expressed my own feelings better. I will confess to you that the effort to get to that concert last night felt Herculean. I had had a crazy day full of meetings, appointments for the kids and work deadlines. There was a 4:30 p.m. cup of coffee in an orthodontist’s office in an effort to rally. We had friends stop by leaving me with approximately 5 minutes to get dressed for our date and to prepare the kids’ dinner. My oldest teenager decided to deliver a dramatic ultimatum as I headed for the door. I wanted to give up. An evening at home sounded really good, maybe even wise. But the tickets had been bought and I had momentum. I told my daughter that she and I would discuss her needs at a more appropriate and convenient time. I put our hectic household temporarily “on hold” and left for the evening.

When I got to the concert, looked at the full moon rising above the Santa Barbara Bowl, leaned into my husband’s warm shoulder and allowed myself a moment to enjoy the music, I relaxed and enjoyed myself in a way that would not have happened at home. I know my husband did too. My mind wandered to the kids and my teenager’s ultimatum. I had a moment to reflect and discuss it calmly with my husband in a neutral, less charged environment.

So, rethink Date Night. First of all, Date Night does not need to be at night. One of my favorite dates with my husband was on a hot August afternoon. We hired a sitter and headed down to the beach for a long ocean swim. After swimming, we lied on the beach and talked uninterrupted. It felt luxurious to be at the beach without having to watch my children’s every move. We were not away long, but returned relaxed and replenished. Our dates often involve going for a hike or a run together. These are great dates for those on a budget with the added benefit of exercise.

Other times, we have pointed to a place on the map where we have never been and gotten into the car to explore it. We discovered a beautiful, rugged area beyond Ojai on a recent Saturday. Art Openings, music venues, stand-up comedy shows, or going to hear a speaker that interests both of us have all proven to be satisfying and stimulating dates with my husband. Date Night can be beyond a nice dinner out, though, let’s face it, dinner out is nice too from time to time. I do most of the cooking at home, so I remind my husband that eating out gives me a needed rest and inspires me to cook!

Keep the pressure low and take the time to do something fun with your spouse for Date Night. You are allowed to enjoy one another. The time you are spending together is not taken away from your children if you return feeling rested, centered and inspired as a person and a parent.

[AUTHOR: Hilary Doubleday]

July 11, 2014

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