My husband and I have officially been on two dates in the same month. This is rare. Very rare. The last time we had a “date” alone together it was 2012. I can’t really call it a date. A friend of mine stayed with the kids while my husband trained me as a substitute for his early morning paper route. We woke up together at 2:30 a.m. grabbed some coffee and hit the open road. The sun was about to rise as we clink’d our hot cups of coffee to celebrate a new day. I know it sounds kind of sexy until you hear the details. He drove us all over the twisty back mountain roads while I tried not to vomit. My lack of sleep in combination with car sickness did not make for a very pleasant experience. P.s. I never drove the route again.
As we were getting ready for our first official date night in four years I started thinking, can I remember how to act while on a date? Would I remember I could sit down in a chair, or a booth to chew my food, or would my sense memory kick in and I’d want to scarf my meal over the kitchen sink? What if my waitress drops some food? Would I immediately hand her a napkin and grumble, “pick it up” or would I remember that’s not my job here. Then suddenly, I worried, WHAT would we talk about?
Thankfully, once we were settled at our table we immediately set the ground rule of no talking about the kids or his job the whole night. Those topics weren’t off the table, but they were among a checklist of things to talk about. We also agreed the phones could be on the table in silence and only used if the baby sitter contacted us (and of course to take pics of our awesome food). Then something really amazing happened. I realized that even though my husband and I have very different interests I do find him interesting. His opinions have always been important to me. He can really be insightful in ways that I am not. I often take for granted that he does know me better than anyone else (he likes to look at the menu online before we leave to silently predict my menu choices, just so he can say “I knew you’d pick that!”). Our conversations were about how much we love the kids, how much we hope for them. We talked about politics, religion, education, current events- all the topics that are off the table at play dates yet I so desperately crave having conversations about. It was like when we first started dating. When we would stay up all night long and talk about our lives, our hopes and dreams for the future. It is nice to connect like that now and to remember we are people not just parents.
Here are 5 date night best practices:
1. Dress to impress. You don’t have to go over board here. (And, yes make-up is optional). It is nice to see my husband in something other than his work clothes. I’m sure he is happy to see me return to the woman he married vs. the scraggly mom in jeans and a sloppy bun. It fires up that chemistry between us.
2. Keep it simple. Coordinating schedules and bed time routines and date night details can be stressful. Don’t worry about all the planets lining up just right. Take advantage of the time you do have. If you have a baby sitter for only 2 hours don’t drive to the fancy restaurant out of town. Pack a picnic and hit the park closest to your house, walk the mall hand in hand and window shop, or grab a cup of coffee at that cute little bistro you’ve had your eye on.
3. Be your best self. We live in such a rushed state as parents. We shout from one side of the house with demands while chasing after kids. Our days are filled with noise. Slow down. Compliment each other. Open doors for each other and say kind things in a nice voice. Remember the softer side of your relationship and reconnect with those lovely people for a while.
4. Communicate. Put down the phone, or leave it in your purse. Make eye contact with each other and not a TV. Share your thoughts on your relationship and tell your spouse things you appreciate about them but maybe didn’t have time to say it. Remember this isn’t a time to share everything that pissed you off during the week. And for the love do NOT bring up your in-laws!
5. Enjoy this time together. You will spend the next twenty-one years rushing and trying to meet the demands of the little people in your home. It’s nice to press the pause button on all that chaos and connect with the person you will spend (if you’re lucky) the next 50 years with.
What are your best date night practices?