10 Ways to Keep Dating—Even After You Have Kids

by Erica Layne on April 11, 2012

A couple of weeks ago, after the rush of getting the boys in bed, getting myself date-night ready, and making sure my house was babysitter-presentable, I was almost ready to throw in the towel before we even got out on our date. But after dinner and a movie (literally our first movie at the theaters in two years!), I felt completely unwound and more connected with Ryan. And when we got home, I kissed my sleeping boys with much more appreciation than normal.

That said, three and a half years into it, I am still trying to figure out how to date my husband now that we are parents. We have tried it ALL. How many of these ideas have you tried? 

Paid Babysitting 

1. Evening dates with a paid babysitter.

2. Daytime dates with a paid babysitter. About a week after Valentines, Ryan took an afternoon off and we went out to an early dinner in Palo Alto. The restaurant was practically empty because it was so early, and I got a little daytime break from my sweethearts!

3. Babysitter sharing. If you and a friend only have a few children combined, try sharing a babysitter! You’ll pay less in babysitting and have great friends to share an evening with. Plus, my youngest child is less likely to mind me leaving if he has a little buddy to distract him. :)

Swaps 

4. Evening swaps. Leave your children at home with your husband and go to your friend’s place to watch her kids while they go out; couples switch the following weekend. I have tucked my friend’s kids into bed and then just spent the rest of the night curled up on my girlfriend’s couch with a good book! Not such a bad deal!

4. Daytime, weekend swaps with friends. These feel more like a playdates for your kids but actually allow the parents to take turns getting away!

6. Overnight swaps! BEST IDEA EVER! Several months ago Ryan and I watched a friend’s kids overnight. We had five little ones sleeping in one room! Then we used hotel points to book a night in a fancy hotel in San Francisco while our kids slept at their friends’ place. (Is sleeping in not extravagantly luxurious when you’re not used to it??)

Co-ops

7. One couple hosts the kids of two or three other couples. The couples can either go out together or separately. Some friends and I once did this monthly, taking turns doing the babysitting. Our kids were little and included a couple of babies, so we kept the outings to about the length of dinner—but it was still nice to just BE out alone with my husband, even if only  for an hour and a half! (You know that feeling when you get in your car and realize there is no one in the backseat?? Strange!)

Family Date Nights!

8. Our version of family date night is going to Chili’s and ordering the bottomless chips and salsa. My boys get busy (and messy!) going to town with the chips and salsa, and Ryan and I actually get in some adult conversation! Plus, Trenton loves it when we say, “Let’s go on a date!” He feels so special.

At-Home Dates 

9. Our standard is watching an episode of Up All Night (that show is funny!) or White Collar on Hulu.

10. Although we haven’t done it nearly as much as we should, we have in the past snuck out to sit under a blanket on the reclining pool chairs. (Our condo happens to be right next to the pool.) But it doesn’t matter if you have access to a pool. I’d be willing to bet that even just sitting outside in your yard or on your balcony/patio will spur conversations you wouldn’t normally have on your living room couch.

I hope you found an idea or two in here that you hadn’t tried before! With a list this long, we have no excuse not to keep dating!

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Becky K April 11, 2012 at 3:01 pm

Definitely paid babysitting! Worth every penny – I learned the hard way! Yay for dating our husbands!
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Erica {let why lead} April 11, 2012 at 3:35 pm

Paid babysitting is nice because you don’t have to reciprocate; all you have to do is hand over a little money! I actually pay a college student to come watch my boys a few times a month during the day just so I can get out and refocus (or, when needed, run errands!). Maybe I’ll have post about that someday…

Layla April 11, 2012 at 4:18 pm

These are awesome ideas! When we first got married, our bishop told us that one of the most important thing in marriage is dating your spouse. He said we should always find a way to make it happen.

Erica {let why lead} April 11, 2012 at 4:41 pm

Thanks, Layla! I think dating is one of those things can be really easy to rationalize as not that important, but at least for me, I am always convinced all over again after we go out on a date. :)

Liz April 11, 2012 at 4:30 pm

I’ve tried a few. I can relate with the strange feeling of no one in the backseat! Oh man would I love to sleep in or go to a movie. I’m thinking we might try the movie soon, but there’s no sleeping in with a nursing baby. But…maybe if the toddler can sleep elsewhere, I could sleep in… :)

Liz April 11, 2012 at 4:31 pm

Oh, and I seriously need to get better at this whole idea. I’ve been trying to re-instigate it into our marriage. Good post.

Erica {let why lead} April 11, 2012 at 4:41 pm

I agree, Liz! It can be hard to get motivated enough to make it happen! Good luck!

Mary B April 11, 2012 at 5:39 pm

And then comes built-in babysitters… 13 year old daughters are the best thing EVER! I don’t even know how I survived with out her! I can’t tell you what a huge relief it has been. I feel like I’ve ARRIVED! :)

Mary B April 11, 2012 at 5:40 pm

Ok, she was never NOT there to survive without… You get what I mean!

Erica {let why lead} April 12, 2012 at 3:20 pm

I wonder if a 13-year-old son will be the same?? One can only hope! Love you!

Ashley April 12, 2012 at 3:50 am

I needed this today! After having kids and my husband working 6 days a week it can be so hard to find time to fit in dates!!! Wonderful ideas!!!

Betsy (Eco-novice) April 12, 2012 at 8:26 pm

We definitely struggle with this as well. We mostly do 9, but I also like 10. Since we sleep with our kids, it ‘s also much easier for us to do day dates than night dates. We have gone out a few times at night and just let the kids stay up late. I totally relate to your story at the beginning — sometimes the prep for leaving the kids is so much work it just hardly seems worth the trouble. My sister just went on a 6-day trip with her husband (while her MIL and SIL stayed at her house with the 3 little girls ). I am super jealous! Of course her youngest is 2yo and mine is 4 mo. I do miss going out with my husband often… I’m glad we had a lot of fun before kids — those memories keep me going.
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Shelley @ Calypso in the Country April 13, 2012 at 11:14 am

We don’t have dates as often as we should. We are lucky to have a couple nieces close by to babysit. I really should take advantage of that as much as possible but we just don’t. Thanks for the reminder!
-Shelley
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Richella @ Imparting Grace April 17, 2012 at 2:44 pm

These are great tips! Aren’t you glad you’re not out there looking for a nice man to date? You have one built in–so it’s wonderful to date him!

I didn’t know you were in the Palo Alto area. Our oldest son considered Stanford, so we visited there. . . so beautiful! I love that area. We have friends at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church. Such a wonderful place you live!
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Erica {let why lead} April 17, 2012 at 5:23 pm

Yes! It is a beautiful place to be! The weather is wonderful, and the whole area is full of charm. (The only problem is that it costs $700K for a small, old house! haha) And yes, a built-in date comes in very handy!

Shelby May 23, 2012 at 12:39 pm

still upset about the jonnys snub. no play-in game? this is a trioatidn that has been a part of “March Madness” since 1991, you know back when you were mixing things up over at BGA.

Alaina February 11, 2014 at 3:43 am

I’m totally using this as I teach about Date Night Ideas at a church activity night tomorrow! Thanks for sparking the babysitting trade ideas.

In other news, I found a sweet 1991 Ensign article with dates-at-home ideas that I thought were great: http://www.lds.org/ensign/1991/04/date-night-at-home?lang=eng
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Erica - Let Why Lead February 11, 2014 at 5:54 am

I’m glad you can use it! And yes, that 91 article IS pretty sweet. :) Thanks!

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