New parents get a lot of (often) unsolicited advice. Sometimes it’s good advise that can be helpful. Sometimes it’s advice that you would never use. The best advice I received as a mom is this: make time for your marriage.
My mom always encouraged me to go on dates with David when Lucas was an infant. Because I was a working momma, I felt way too guilty to leave Lucas, even for an hour. My daily commute was over two hours round trip, and the 60+ hours away from him a week made me feel selfish if I ever left him longer. This was totally my own issue, and I acknowledge it as such, but my new mommy heart couldn’t see leaving him as a positive.
When I was on bed rest with Talia, I told David, that I longed to go on a date with him before Talia was born. Our goal was to make it to 37 weeks gestation. My doctor told us if we made it to 37 weeks, I could go off bed rest. The day we made it to 37 weeks, David took me out for a pedicure and dinner. It was perfect. The next morning, my water broke and 5 hours later, Talia was born. (Another funny story for another day!)
When Talia was about 2 months old, David’s company had their holiday party, and David told me we were going. My mom said she’d watch our babies, so I pumped milk for Talia, prayed she’d take the bottle, and off we went. It was a great date, we ate and danced, and realized we missed our babies, so back home we went. It’s a good thing too, because Talia decided that bottles are not for her, she’s a straight-from-the-tap kinda girl.
David and I made a deal to go on at least one date a month. I look forward to that night all month. I pump a bottle for Talia, just in case she changes her mind, and I leave her in my mom’s capable hands. Our dates usually only last about an hour and a half, except once when we went to watch My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, and were out TWO and a half hours, rock stars have nothing on us!
My point is, even if you can only take a short time out, do it! Being able to get all dolled up, with actual make up and hair styling and wearing clothes that I would prefer my kids not puke on is AWESOME! Getting to sit and enjoy a meal with my best friend and eat said meal before it gets cold, GLORIOUS! If I’m completely honest, we end up talking about our babies for most of the evening and we might even pull out our phones to share cute pictures or videos we forgot to share earlier, absence makes the heart grow fonder and all that. But it’s time for us to just enjoy each other, and a great reminder why we decided to become parents together in the first place, we’re partners and best friends.
So, to my new, or old, parent friends I say this: make time for date night.
My single momma friends, taking time for yourself to spend with your friends is just as important. Being able to have time to destress and enjoy conversations with adults helps us be better parents. Im a firm believer in happy parents, happy kids!
Tried and true tips:
Make a reservation or call ahead to get you name on the wait list. We learned pretty early that waiting for a table when on a short time clock is no bueno. Now we always make a reservation or call ahead so that we can be seated as soon as we arrive to maximize on our limited time out.
One of my favorite things to do is order a few appetizers to share, instead of entrées. I used to do this with my girl friends in college, and still do this with David whenever he agrees. A bonus is some restaurants have late happy hour prices, and this saves money. Also, most appetizers are priced low enough to allow you to order a few that would cost less than entrées.
Speaking of saving money, date night doesn’t have to be expensive. Going from a two income family, to a single income family has helped me find new ways to save money. A whole lotta restaurants will email you coupons or have point systems if you sign up with your email account. Do it!
A coffee date is another economical option. Although I will admit to my love of Starbucks, smaller mom and pop coffee shops are rad! Most of the smaller coffee houses I’ve been to have games you can use for free. Getting in a game of Scrabble or Connect 4 while sipping on a cup of coffee or tea is a great stress reliever, and excellent quality time.
Going for a walk is a free alternative. I think we often forget that there are fun things to see in our hometowns. Playing tourist and going for a walk can open our eyes to things we might take for granted during our busy daily lives.
David and I are incredibly fortunate to have my mom watch our babies whenever we have our dates. I know finding a reliable babysitter can be incredibly challenging, and babysitting fees can add up quickly, setting up a date night sitting swap can help. Finding friends with children in the same age range, who you can trade off sitting duties can benefit both families. Your friends watch your kiddos one weekend, and you take their kids with yours the following weekend.
Making time to enjoy each other’s company at home is equally important. Once the babies are asleep, David and I love watching our DVR’ed shows and eating snacks we don’t want to share with Lucas. (Future Lucas and Talia, I’m sorry, but sometimes I want to eat a bowl of ice cream or a slice of pie without sharing. Sorry. I’ll go buy you some pie a la mode now, promise!)
So that’s my unsolicited advise. One two-hour date is only .002% of your month, and its value is immeasurable. Go out, paint the town red, go hog-wild, even if it’s only 90 minutes because your daughter hates bottles and has unfounded abandonment issues… but that last part might just be me.