My guess is that most of you can relate to the busyness of life with kids, jobs, responsibilities, commitments and all the other things that we give our time to. More often than not, our relationship with our spouse gets overlooked and “dating” can become a thing of the past. Maybe there are other factors as well, such as limited finances or a lack of childcare. Maybe you’re in a season, like me, where you’re needed at home in the evenings for the dinner/bath/bedtime routine. I get it. I really do. But I’ve also learned the value of spending quality time with my spouse away from the presence of our children. And that doesn’t necessarily mean leaving the house!
My husband and I recently discovered the awesomeness of stay-at-home date nights!
Stay with me for this one. I used to think that “date nights” meant you had to leave the house for an evening out. In my house, that usually entailed rushing around to get the kids bathed & fed, getting myself ready, preparing for the sitter, getting one or two kids to bed before the sitter arrived and finally leaving the house, usually tired just from getting ready for date night! Now while I still love a good date night out of the house, I’m starting to adore these stay-at-home date nights that we’ve had lately. I’ll share some ideas with you that we’ve done to make the evening special. Home dates are very doable and fun… and your marriage will reap the benefits of them!
A few things I do on the day of our planned “date” and ways to make it special…
I try and have the house picked up and a few chores out of the way so I’m not distracted by them during our date. The last thing I want to be thinking about while I’m trying to focus on my husband is the pile of dishes in the sink, an overflowing trash or a mountain of laundry. For some of you this may not be an issue… those things won’t cross your mind during the time with your husband. Oh, how I wish I were better able to do that! But I know myself well enough to know that I would be thinking about the strewn toys or the sticky counters, so to eliminate that I go ahead and pick-up before our date.
We put the kids to bed a little earlier. Our kids are naturally early-to-bed, early-to-rise kids so this isn’t so much of an issue. But if your kids aren’t then this might be tricky. Maybe start the bedtime routine earlier that day? Tire them out earlier in the day (parks, pool, running laps in the yard :-)? Skip a nap? If your kids are older or trying to put them to bed earlier leaves you frazzled, then skip to Plan B… stick a movie on, have them play quietly with favorite toys or (if you’re lucky!) send them to grandma or grandpa’s house for the night! These are just ideas and every family has to do what works best for them.
Set the mood and the atmosphere…text during the day anticipating your night together, have a “spot” picked out for the date, whether it’s your porch, patio or a blanket on the living room floor. Get creative and make it special. Adding touches like candles, Christmas lights or some music can make it feel cozier and romantic. Another nice thing about staying home for a date is that you can go casual… a sundress, a touch of lipstick and mascara and Voila! Shoes are totally optional. I would suggest putting away the sweats and yoga pants for the evening… a little extra effort in appearance can only add to the evening. ; )
Order take-out if you’re able. We were fortunate enough to have a gift card for a local restaurant for our recent date night. We usually order from a favorite local restaurant and my sweet husband picks it up while I’m preparing the location. We’ve found that ordering take-out is less expensive than eating at the actual restaurant (you’re not buying drinks, additional food & no tipping). If finances are an issue, prepare a simple meal together or put something in the crock-pot earlier in the day.
Once you’re all set up, sit down and enjoy one another (sans cell phones!). For our date, we used Karen Ehman’s free Get to Know Your Spouse Again printable with fun questions and conversation starters. We both enjoyed it as it brought back memories and gave us some laughs.
Linger… you’ve anticipated date night all day…you’ve enjoyed a nice (hopefully peaceful) dinner… now relax and enjoy one another. If you don’t have to rush, don’t. Hang out with your spouse. Clean-up for us was throwing away the take-out containers. We had homemade chocolate cake waiting for after dinner (super-easy recipe), and it made for a nice finish to our meal. We didn’t hurry away… we just lingered for a bit. Until we heard thunder and saw lightening… then we came inside!
However you do it, having a home date night can be easy and so enjoyable. Why not plan one for your spouse this week?