When I informed my daughter one night that a sitter was on her way because mom and dad were going out on a date, she crossed her arms to express her displeasure that she was not being invited along on the outing.
“You guys like each other more than you like us! Hmph!” But the little smile on her face gave me a clue to her real feelings. She is thankful for a mom and dad that love each other and finds comfort in our desire to be together.
There are endless things that our children need from us to thrive. Sometimes our minds can run away with the pressures of all we need to pass along. But here is one that can benefit us too.
Kids need their parents to make date night a priority.
A healthy relationship between parents communicates to children that love existed before them and will exist after them. This releases kids from the burden of feeling like love in the family is dependent on them.
My husband and I have three young kids at home (ages 7, 5, and 2) and are both very busy in ministry and the demands of family life. It feels like we are constantly managing the tensions of calendar and budget that make date nights difficult.
Here are some ways that my husband and I make date nights a priority:
1. Save for Gift Cards
My husband tells me often that his love language is food! So he always asks extended family for restaurant gift cards for his birthday and for Christmas. This way, we are able to go out to dinner using the gift cards, and it is a bit less painful to cover the cost of the babysitter. It keeps up from breaking the bank and it allows those that love us to bless us with the gift of time together. And I am able to chatter away without interruption while he is happily held as a captive audience in front of his steak.
2. Budget Date Dollars
We think date nights are important enough to budget for them! Isn’t it true that a top indicator of our priorities can be reflected in our calendar and in our budgets? My husband and I set aside money that is intended specifically for date nights. This reduces the guilt factor when we are spending the money for a date.
3. Exchange for Housing
For a year, we had someone living in our basement spare room and, in return, asked that we could have a weekly date night out together. I cannot recall a time that our marriage was stronger or that we were more consistently connected than that year of regular time together.
4. Take Turns Planning
Okay, I can’t lie. This is actually something we learned from a friend but are still trying to master ourselves. Too often, we run to the car for our date as though we were just freed from prison and get inside to just look each other expectantly because neither of us made a plan! I mean, (hypothetically, of course!) there could be a disagreement while you spend the first portion of the date trying to come to an agreement about the plan! Consider taking turns to make the plan so each person has the opportunity and responsibility to choose the fun.
5. Plan a Home Date
Put those kids to bed, turn off the TV, and lock up the computers! Put a fancy dinner on the table and turn on some grown-up music. Stay home dates are the most inexpensive option but they require discipline to make them count.
6. Swap Babysitting
Where we live, most people live away from their extended families. Communities of friends really support each other in place of relatives. We were so blessed to start a habit of kid-swapping when our first was young. We would take her to a friend’s house and just pick up her sleepy self to take her home at the end of the night. Now that we have more kids, we take turns with a friend, keeping their kids from 5-8pm on a weekend so we can avoid bedtime routine. We feed the children and put them in their pajamas in time for mom and dad to take them home and tuck them in bed. They do the same for us the next week. Mom and Dad get a night out and the kids get a playdate with friends!
A commitment to making date nights a priority is an investment in your family and a way to express to your children that protecting a marriage takes work.
Don’t miss date night!