This is my husband Jon and I in Big Sur, California last spring.
It was a magical trip made possible in large part by a speaking engagement for me on one end and family willing to put us up on the other.
And it was a trip made that much sweeter by years of squeezing in “alone time” around nursing schedules and naptimes, then the years of rushed date nights and those “are we really this old already?” attempts at late nights out when we were exhausted from, well, being up all night most nights.
Of course, we’ve been moving in this direction for some time now. We put in a lot of intense years of baby-care without much time away during that first decade-plus of parenthood; so when we were finally, officially, Beyond Baby – and better yet, when our daughter’s graduation from toddlerhood also happened to coincide with our having two willing teenage babysitters living in our very own house – you better believe we took advantage of it.
That said, there were definitely some years in there when we could have been doing more but just let the inertia and chaos get to us.
Truthfully, we could have gotten a regular sitter before we had to wait for one of our own kids to fill the role. But for the most part, we just waited it out.
Obviously, we’re doing fine now, and I don’t exactly have regrets. But when I look at how much FUN Jon and I are having together now, I wonder just why we waited so long.
It’s not always easy to arrange for the sitter, pump the milk, and then stay awake for a chat over dessert when you’re in the thick of little-baby parenting. So I totally understand why newer parents often forego “date nights” for a cuddle on the couch.
But sometimes “not going out” just becomes habit. And by the time you get well into the second year of parenthood, most of us can plan for a special night out every now and then.
I’m not saying your marriage will fail if you don’t. What I am saying is: it’s fun, and it’s a great way to enjoy your partner as an interesting fellow adult and not just your partner in parenthood…so why not?
Your challenge today: figure out what is getting between you and regular nights out with your spouse – and make it happen.
This might take some thought about what your obstacles actually are:
Are regular “dinner dates” just not in the budget?
Then you might have to think about creative ways to get time alone together without spending much cash: get ice cream, go for a sunset walk, take in a movie at a second-run theatre. Or instead of dinner, grab an appetizer on a Happy Hour special, or eat dinner at home and just go out for coffee and dessert.
Do exhaustion or conflicting schedules make the usual nighttime date unappealing?
Maybe you could get away for lunch during the week, hit a bucket of balls at the driving range on Saturday mornings, or visit a local winery on a Sunday afternoon.
Does finding a good, reliable babysitter seem like an un-crackable mystery?
If you’ve exhausted all your options and family help isn’t forthcoming, maybe it’s time to check out Care.com, get in touch with the local YMCA to get connected with babysitting class & infant CPR graduates, or ask some local friends for referrals.
Don’t underestimate younger sitters, either! Tweens and young teens can be very responsible, capable, and committed babysitters, and generally their schedules are more flexible and open than an older teen’s.
If you’re in a place right now where getting away with your spouse is simply not an option, I understand.
Maybe you could create a regular “date night at home” ritual with takeout and a movie after the kids are in bed? Remember, you don’t necessarily have to go out to have a good time together – it’s all about the intention and how you use the time and opportunities you have.
Whatever your obstacle(s) may be, get creative.
Chances are good you’ve simply gotten in the habit of not going out, and a few phone calls or emails could set you on the right path.
And if you’re already regularly getting out on dates together, maybe a new challenge is in order?
Spend your five minutes today dreaming about a weekend getaway or full-blown vacation that you can take together as soon as you can swing it. Maybe you could even pick a place and start making a plan.
I’d love to hear about how you did with today’s challenge!
Post a comment below or discuss in the Beyond Baby Facebook Group!