Date night! Pre-kids that phrase had a pretty straightforward definition: going out, planned or spontaneous, with no worries and doing whatever we wanted with no curfew. Now that kids are in the picture, that phrase can mean so many things. It could mean actually going out for dinner and a movie while grandparents or a babysitter look after your kids. It could mean a quiet Friday night at the grocery store, hands interlaced, with the only noise coming from the squeaky cart and overhead music. It could mean pizza and Netflix on the couch after kids go to bed. It might even mean an outing with a baby sleeping on your chest in whichever baby carrier wrap you use. We have to get creative these days and luckily we have the means to do that with updated technology, food delivery services, prepaid movie tickets and a slew of events going on in any given city.
For several years after my husband and I started making babies, we usually succumbed to the unoriginal dinner and movie date, and because of babysitter costs doubling the price of the night, we seldom went out. Of course we got excited when we saw date night on the calendar inching closer and closer, but we didn’t really get anything out of it other than some quiet time away from the kids, yet inevitably conversing about said kids. There was a lot of silence because we were exhausted and if we tried to avoid talk about kids or work, we were left with no topics. However, if you are in a relationship and have kids, you NEED to get out. Your sanity will thank you. The relationship with your significant other will thank you. Your sex life will thank you. Your kids may even thank you if they really enjoy the people who look after them.
Several months ago my husband and I decided to try something new that’s been working really well for us and I’d like to share it with you!
We now do a kids-free date night once a month and it only lasts two hours to keep the babysitter cost at bay. We usually choose a restaurant we’ve never been to and we bring a future-planning book and a pen. That’s it! It’s so basic, yet it gets us out together once a month, we discover a new restaurant (Knoxville has a lot of great ones), we don’t spend a ton of money, we learn something new about each other every time even after 14 years of marriage and we leave more prepared for our future together. Plus, we get home after the kids have been put to bed, which is a bonus! When we get home from the date, we immediately pick what day next month we’ll do it again so it’s on the calendar before we forget to discuss it.
The book is called Write. Open. Act. An Intentional Life Planning Workbook by Lee Weinstein. (Note: neither Knoxville Moms nor I are receiving any compensation for mentioning this book, and I do not know the author). This book asks so many questions that allow you to learn more about yourself, what you want out of life, what your significant other wants and how you can achieve it together. Some examples are: Do you like where you live? What are you going to do to stay young at heart? Are there family traditions you want to start or stop? What else do you want to learn? Where do you want to travel?
After answering hundreds of questions and learning about each other, you create a timeline of what you want to accomplish and then you create steps to make that timeline happen. We are still on the questions part (because there are a LOT of them), but have really enjoyed learning so much about each other. Even if we never got to the timeline part of the book, I still feel like it was worth it just to have new conversations with my husband that we never would have had otherwise. Oftentimes, these questions lead down rabbit holes, pulling out memories you had forgotten about and can share with your partner. That’s really where the “learning something new every time” kicks in.
If you’re thinking this book wouldn’t work for you because you’re single or because you think you’re too old to start, you’re wrong! It caters to everyone: single, couples, young, retired. The book is actually set up for one person, so we just create two columns for each question so we can both answer. There are additional special sections for couples and those 60 years of age and older. Just don’t make the same mistake we did of spending months filling out a book only to leave it at the restaurant and not realizing it until pulling into the garage. Doh!