So our latest experiment has been scheduling weekly date nights. Date nights for the kids, as well as date nights for mom and dad. Here is a breakdown of how each type of date night is working for us.
Kid Date Nights
Friday night is either date night or family fun night. The first week all four of us had a game night at home. We taught the girls how to play Uno (which they loved) and had a treat for dessert. The next week I had a date with the Sweet Bee out, while Dad had a date night with the Ant Bug at home. Each child got one-on-one time with a parent. Then the next week we had another family fun night with all four of us at home--this was the weekend of Valentine's Day so we had some theme activities including this Valentine's day scavenger hunt. The next week after that, I had a date night with the Ant Bug out, while Dad had a date night with the Sweet Bee at home. Are you seeing the pattern here?! Family fun all together one week, alternating with individual parent and child dates.
Our date nights are pretty simple and low-cost. On our "out" evenings both girls have wanted to visit the animals at the pet store and then go out for an ice cream treat. Now that it stays light for longer in the evenings I imagine that we'll be having some excursions to the park. The important thing is to do something that the child enjoys. Our dates are generally about an hour long, tucked in the window of time between dinnertime and bedtime (preserving the 8pm bedtime is essential to my sanity!).
I think our family fun nights are also important for strengthening family unity with all four of us. We try to chose something that everyone will enjoy, but again, our activities are pretty simple and low-cost. Game night, movie night, dinner out, etc.
It doesn't take a lot of planning and effort, but our girls are realizing that Friday's are family fun days, and they know that mom and dad want to spend time with them.
Husband and Wife Date Nights
On this blog I focus a lot on my children: activities I do with them, books I read with them, projects I make for them, etc. I hope my husband doesn't feel neglected! Just as it is important for children to have special time with mom and dad, mom and dad need special time for each other!
My husband and I decided that we also need to be more committed about a weekly date night with each other. For quite awhile we have basically had Friday evening as our unofficial date night, but we kind of fell into the rut of just watching a movie or tv shows. We have legitimate excuses, of course: husband in graduate school, no money for a babysitter, we're TIRED!, etc. But when I came across Project 52: Date Nights at Simply Modern Mom I knew we needed to commit ourselves and make dating a priority in our marriage.
Friday night is also our couple date night. We put the kids to bed at 8pm, take a little time to ourselves to unwind or get ready, and then it's our time for the rest of the evening. We alternate weeks to decide who is in charge of planning the date. So far all of our dates have been at home (and that's a trend that is likely to continue), but we are still having fun. We've played games, swapped massages, played games with neighbors (group dates are allowed!), and relaxed and made plans for the impending delivery of our baby boy (in 2-3 weeks!).
Again, the planning and effort it takes to have our weekly date night has been minimal, but we're strengthening our marriage and reaping the benefits.
If you're interested in making date nights with your husband a weekly priority, be sure to check in with Project 52: Date Nights. Tiffany posts weekly about her dates and opens it up for her readers to do the same, so you have access to a lot of creative date ideas.
I would love to hear your ideas. Do you have a regular date night? How has it strengthened your family relationships?
Here are a few places that might inspire some creative dates for you and your husband:
16 Creative Dates at Home at The Mother Huddle.