By Michelle Mady
Over the past two years, we have had to get creative in a lot of ways. We have learned about social distancing, proper mask etiquette and that having a few months worth of toilet paper in your basement “just in case” will help you through a pandemic. Children have gone to school in every possible way, we have a new, intimate relationship with sanitizers, and we can rely on the guidelines changing at any second.
But now that the dust is starting to settle, there’s a whole new laundry list of things we were not ready to become an issue. All of these “pandemic side effects” are coming to light, after two years of life under strict rules and responsibilities, we are now free to return to some 2019 antics. But it’s not like before; it’s an entirely new world to get used to, and the biggest thing in my mind is date night and all the things I have not worried about in the past few years.
For instance, who do I even know who can babysit?
I am blessed to have an older son who is 16 - aka a built-in babysitter. But, I was just talking to a friend the other day, and her children have NEVER had a babysitter. Another friend and I invited her and her husband to trivia night with us, and after this realization, worked together to pool our resources and get her kids watched so we could have a night out together.
It got me thinking .. date night without a sitter?
It is important to put work into your relationship, but how can that be done if there isn’t affordable, attainable, trustworthy childcare at your disposal? Sure, you can go online and complete the dating app equivalent to finding a caretaker, but those take time to work through, and what if they are not a good fit for your children, what then?
It is important to put work into your relationship, but how can that be done if there isn’t affordable, attainable, trustworthy childcare at your disposal?
There are a few great ways that you can have a date night without the need for a sitter. Sure, we have all had our fill of being confined to our homes, but with a few additions, tweaks and perspectives, a magical, romantic date night is within reach. Although I do have a babysitter in my son, to keep everyone safe and healthy in my household, we have done date nights in our home, and they would make great sitter-less date nights!
Do Dinner Differently
Think about your dinner plans. Do you eat together at the dinner table every night? Maybe you eat with the kids, or your partner takes care of the kids as you do the clean up.
For a date night, have the kids eat, then put them to bed. Then have dinner together differently. Maybe a picnic dinner in your yard with the baby monitor close by. Or bring out some pillows to the living room floor and create a bohemian atmosphere. Eat while playing a board game or chatting about future vacation plans. Sometimes just the change in pace, and in environment, is enough to support connection.
Have a Paint Night
Paint nights now come in many different styles. You can make a flower arrangement, a painting, sometimes even a larger craft activity. It all follows the same Paint Night formula, but has other creative outlets besides painting a canvas. No sitter? No problem! Check out YayMaker and find a virtual event that sounds fun. Some events require you to get your own supplies, while others will deliver supplies to you. Pull up the computer and get your creative juices flowing as the children watch “Encanto” for the 22143rd time this week in the next room.
Play a Game
Let loose and get your giggle on! Play a kids board game, but invent outrageous rules. Every time you “Go Fish,” you have to sing 2 lines of your favorite song! You can grab an adult game, like Codenames or Clue (steer clear of Monopoly). Adding a wager, like the winner prepares dinner tomorrow, can bring up the edge of competitive fun, too. Better yet, on your next Target run, grab a new game you know nothing about and try it out for date night!
Utilize that Target Run
Speaking of Target … add a twist to your next shopping run. Each of you use $10 (or any appropriate budget amount) and grab a bunch of stuff for your next date. It can be anything from socks, paper, candy or bubbles! Then, on your next date night, bring out your shopping spree finds and brainstorm how to incorporate them in your date. A box of chocolates can become a game of bluffs when betting on the filling flavor. Make a craft with your findings, or use those socks to start a PJ party!
Date night without a babysitter can seem like an impossible task. Even finding time to plan something can be arduous at best. But with these starting points, I hope you can reconnect with your partner and have a romantic night in.
About the author: Michelle is a mom of 5 children ranging in age from 5 to 15. As a toddler and preschool teacher, she shares experiences, activities and guidance to other parents, as both a parent and as a professional early childhood educator, at any stage of their parenting journey.
Photo credit: iStock.com/enigma_images