Since having kids, fun date ideas are extremely rare and difficult to organize. Not to mention when life gets really busy, it’s the first thing that gets pushed off the list. In my marriage, it’s obvious when Jake and I are overdue for some time together when we start to feel like roommates.
The thing is, we don’t always have a babysitter or the extra money to go out like we used to. Plus, we don’t have the energy to put together super romantic and detailed date nights so the easier the date the more enjoyable it is.
Some of these things are at-home after the kids are in bed dates and some are for the rare occasions when a babysitter is available. Don’t think that you always have to have a babysitter to have a date night. Some of our best date nights have just been hanging out in the living room doing something things on this list!
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Dinner and shopping
I know it’s supposed to be dinner and movies. But movies are ridiculously expensive compared to waiting to watch it at home. Plus you’re not really spending any time together besides sitting next to each other with your focus on something else. Also since having kids, if I sit still that long I’ll probably fall asleep. Instead, my favorite nights are when we go out for dinner then hit up Target and Marshalls.
This would also be a great time to take advantage of some kid-free grocery shopping. While it’s usually harder to take Jake grocery shopping than the kids, it’s worth it when he takes me to the frozen yogurt place afterwards.
Any kind of errands are acceptable during date night because sometimes it’s too hard with kids. Some of my favorite date nights have been when we just had to get a few things done without the added stress of littles.
Date Night In box
Jake and I have been subscribed to Date Night In for a few months now and we absolutely love them. First off, who doesn’t love subscription boxes? Second, everything we need for a whole date is in one box (besides dinner, they give you awesome recipes but you have to do the shopping first). Lastly, we don’t need a babysitter. We put the kids to bed early, wait until they’re out and break out our date box.
This past month (August) was the Island Adventure theme and it was seriously so. Much. Fun. And the games were by far the best yet. I mean we got to stick golf tees in the top of the box, balance ping pong balls on them, and knock them off with squirt guns! This also may have ended with a squirt gun war soaking our living room but it was totally worth it.
The Date Night In team thinks of absolutely everything when making these boxes. We get recipe cards for dinner that goes with the theme, awesome games, sometimes a snack, an online music playlist that also goes with the theme, and inspirational discussion guides. Guys, I can’t tell you enough how much we love these amazing boxes and how many memories they’ve made for us!
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Explore somewhere new
Jake loves anything and everything outdoors. Me, not so much. But I do love wearing my pretty Nike sneakers so I can deal with small samples of outside. We live about a half hour from Letchworth State Park (aka the “Grand Canyon of the East”). So once in a while when we are kid-free for the night we like to go hiking. This is especially attractive when we don’t have the money for a not-so-quick Target run.
We’ve also recently discovered a nearby beach (okay it’s an hour). I took the kids there once this summer and it was really nice. I kept thinking how nice it would be if Jake and I could get away and drive up there one night to enjoy the lake.
DIY project together
Since buying our house Jake and I both love working on anything inside or out but we’ve always had separate projects for the most part. Recently I’ve decided to give our kitchen a makeover, starting with painting the cabinets. So lately, after we put the kids to bed (and if we have the motivation to do it) we put on our (my) favorite Pandora station and get painting! It’s really nice to be working towards something and also be able to spend time together.
If you don’t have any projects around the house, try finding a fun DIY on Pinterest! A lot of the time when I find something cool it’s too complicated or needs power tools I’m not willing to use. But if I had my husbands help (or he makes it for me while I offer encouragement) I would finally have some awesome homemade stuff and great memories from making it!
Take out and board games (or video games)
This is definitely one of our top favorites. Probably once a month we’ll put the kids to bed, order from our favorite Chinese place, and drag out the Wii U so I can kick his butt at Mario Kart. Or we’ll bring out the card and board games like Uno, Mancala or Rummikub. The key to this is to let your wife win more than yourself. Or you might spend the rest of your date night glaring at each other from the other side of the couch.
Campfire in the backyard
This was a completely unplanned date night for us and it was probably one of the best. We put the kids to bed and started working on cleaning up a big wood pile in our backyard. Before we knew it, we had a nice fire going, wine and snacks, and ended up talking all night. And it wasn’t a planned date night at all. We just wanted to get the backyard cleaned up and were able to make a memorable date night out of it.
This is the hardest one to pull off. Somehow we managed to swing it last February for our second anniversary and it was so much fun. We really didn’t even do much besides walk down the main road and window shop. Then that night after dinner we walked down to this little coffee cafe, got our coffee to-go, and went back to our room. We watched tv (we have a weak spot for Impractical Jokers) and spent time together using our conversation cards and our activity book for couples.
I know, I know I said these were easy date nights for married couples. And if you’re married and don’t have kids this is a whole lot easier. But you can still do it even with kids using this one little secret…Take the kids! Now you’re thinking that doesn’t sound like a date night at all, but it can be!
So here’s how it works: you want to go away for a weekend but you have to take the kids so pick a place to go with somewhere fun nearby to take them for a day. Spend the whole day together having fun as a family and completely poop the kids out the best you can.
Now the trick to this is to get a hotel room with a separate bedroom. And if you’re thinking that’s too expensive check out Homewood Suites by Hilton. Every room is a suite but it usually cost just as much as a regular room somewhere else. So kids are exhausted, toss them on the living room sofa bed and once they’re out the night is yours! Now you have a separate room to watch a movie, try one of the couples activities I mentioned or even bring your Date Night In box.
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Bible study together
Before you brush off this idea just think about it for a second. How much are you in need of that closeness and connection with your spouse? What better way to get it than through the One who created your marriage in the first place! It doesn’t have to be all serious and scholarly. Grab some snacks, put on your favorite worship music, and play rock-paper-scissors for who gets to pick where you start.
I once came across this picture, maybe on Pinterest or something, and it was just a black triangle on a white background. It was a perfect, equally spaced triangle. And at each point was written God, husband, and wife. And the caption was something about how when the husband and wife draw closer to God, the also grow closer to one another. This one image that I saw years ago has been more insightful than anything. Even all the marriage books I’ve read over the years.