When I first had my babies or my first baby, someone older than me with a bit more motherhood under her belt told me that whilst being a mum was going to be my main focus for a long while, it was still important to remember I was a wife and that working on our married relationship was important. She half-jokingly said “you will look forward to date nights” and I shrugged her words off because there was NO way I was leaving my baby to go out, what kind of mother would I be to want to go out on a date night?
That attitude changed when I realized that whilst yes, motherhood is pretty much all-encompassing and it does change your life, I also am still married and the person I married is someone I want to spend time with. My kids will leave home (both of them think they are living with us forever, I have news for them on that one, they aren’t) and have their own lives and there are lots of bits of the relationship with the husband that he and I need to maintain so that when that does happen we don’t look at each other and think “now what?”.
The first few times I left what is now the teen, to go out for dinner with the husband were guilt-wracked. Mainly because I felt like I was leaving my precious baby and of course no one could look after her as well as I could. Silly really, her grandad, my dad was perfectly capable of looking after her and managed fine for the few hours we would sneak away for dinner or a movie. As she got older I stopped feeling so guilty. It was good for me and the husband to get out of the house and go and have some time alone, and it was good for her too, to be with her grandfather.
When the boy came along, I had pretty much gotten over any anxiety about date nights and going out and leaving my kids for a few hours and in fact embrace that time.
We deliberately plan date nights, and date times away from the kids. It can be a lunch date, an afternoon out, a dinner date, and if we have a willing grandparent or friend, we have managed a night away too. The boy’s sleep issues made going away for a night much harder for a long time, but we are hoping that we might get a night away later this year again.
We are very lucky to have found a local babysitter who the kids love, who comes over to our house for a few hours which allows us to go out. She is worth her weight in gold and we budget for a monthly time out for us.
It’s good for us. Both of us work very hard in busy and demanding jobs, and homeschooling means my life is fairly packed and intense, so being able to get a few hours with the bloke who helped me make the kids, and who I still quite like, is very important. We enjoy each other’s company, even after being married for almost 19 years and together for 21, and a date night out is almost a necessity for us.
Be practical. If you can’t go out, stay in but make it work.
I do know that going out isn’t always possible or practical. We have had times where we didn’t have a reliable baby sitter, and no grandparents around to lend a hand or the sleep issues we faced didn’t make it practicable or costs are an issue. So we have improvised with at-home dates, and trying to make sure the kids go to bed, so we could eat dinner together or watch a movie in peace. There are all sorts of things you can do to make a night at homework when going out isn’t an option, the main thing is making time for each other. But you do need to make time for you and your partner. The relationship you have is just as important. Motherhood can be very intense and demanding but I enjoy our time when we make the effort.
Now I repeat that same thing to new parents
Now, when I give advice to new parents, I will gently say exactly the same thing to them that was said to me : don’t get so swallowed up in motherhood that you forget the person you made the babies with. You will need and appreciate date nights and times”. The few times I have said it, I have had the look of horror back that was on my own face, but then a few months later, when I offer to babysit for them, they usually are quite keen to take me up on it.
Looking after your relationship is an important part of being a better parent, I think. Date nights are something that helps us to do that.
Do you do date nights or date-times? Are you able to go out or do you stay home and make it work that way?