In case you hadn’t already realised, relationships are hard work. No matter how long you’ve been together, or how in love you are, you have to put in hours of hard graft if you want to keep the romance alive. It may sound simple enough, but as we get older, as our jobs get more high pressured, and as we inevitably throw a couple of sprogs into the mix, making quality time for ‘just you two’ can become an almost impossible task. Which is why, for my wife Rosie and I, booking in a regular date night has always been so important (and I think, is one of the biggest things that has kept us consciously-coupled (and sane) for the past six years).
But since becoming parents and (more recently) moving out to the sticks, our much-loved date nights have all but dropped off a cliff. With a demanding toddler zapping all of Rosie’s energy during the day and me struggling to get home from work before 8:30pm at night, we’re lucky just to get an hour watching catch-up TV on the sofa together, let alone even consider venturing out of the house!
But thinking about it, how difficult is it really to drop your pride and joy off at the grandparents for the night? Or post a babysitter job on a website like Care.com, so that you and your better half can go out for a night on the town?
Free from responsibility? Free from shit TV? Free from that mountain of ironing that never seems to get any smaller?! Just the two of you, like back when you fell for each other in the first place?
So, to remind myself of the importance of bringing date night back into our relationship, while hopefully encouraging a few of you lot to #CareAboutDateNight and get involved too (particularly with Valentine’s Day just around the corner!), here are my top 10 tips on achieving the perfect kid-free night out!
10 top tips to achieve your perfect kid-free date night
1. Plan, plan, PLAN!
If you make firm plans, you’re far more likely to stick to them than if you just wing it. So, reserve a table a few days in advance at that new restaurant you’ve been wanting to try for ages. Book tickets to that show you’ve been meaning to go to since forever. Or arrange to recreate an epic old date from when you first started going out. Lock it into your diaries and make sure you don’t let ‘life’ scupper your plans!
2. But leave a little room for spontaneity
Planning is essential but don’t restrict yourself to just organised fun. If you’re arranging a babysitter, book them for an extra hour than usual so that you aren’t forced to come home early if you’re having a good time. Go for a nightcap on your way home. Stop somewhere fun for dessert. Or just take your time to enjoy each other’s company. I know you’ve got an early start in the morning, but that extra hour of alone time will pay dividends in the long run.
3. Leave parental guilt at the door
It’s great when family and friends offer to babysit for free so you can go on a much-needed date night. But as you aren’t actually paying them, it’s easy to feel guilty if you stay out a little longer than planned. As a result, you often cut your night short to relieve them of their duties before it gets too late. Which is why we try to mix it up by alternating between free babysitters and paid ones. We book ours through Care.com, the world’s largest online service for finding high-quality carers (including parent-recommended local babysitters across the entire UK). It’s really simple to do and guarantees a guilt free date night!
4. Dress to impress
I’ve made this mistake many times in the past, but it’s important to remember…if you’re planning a proper date night with your other half, make sure you treat it like an actual date! Don’t just turn up slightly dishevelled in the crumpled work suit you’ve been wearing all day. Or in your ‘comfy lazy day outfit’ with remnants of baby’s dinner in your hair. Make an effort, dress to impress and remind your other half of what a catch you are!
5. Don’t drive
It’s easy, particularly as we get older, to feel the urge to drive ourselves everywhere rather than get a cab or take public transport. Sure, it’s cheap, comfortable and convenient, but it doesn’t exactly leave you much room to let your hair down (if you catch my drift). So, take the pressure off, leave the car at home for the night and enjoy a proper drink (or six) together like you used to in the good old days.
6. And don’t be late!
Maybe this is just me (or perhaps it’s a guy thing) but nothing starts a date night off on the wrong foot like one of the ‘party of two’ arriving unfashionably late! So, force yourself to leave work slightly early on that day, or arrange for the babysitter to come 15 minutes before you actually have to head out, and make sure you don’t keep your other half waiting!
7. Put your mobile phones on silent
I know it’s difficult to completely switch off your phone at the best of times, especially when you want to stay ‘on call’ after leaving your pride and joy in someone else’s care. But do try to keep your mobile usage down to a bare minimum during date night. Turn off notifications. Set your phone to vibrate. And put it away in your pocket. Because the most important person you need to hear from at this very moment is sitting right in front of you.
8. Ban baby chat
I’m definitely guilty of this one but whatever you do, try not to spend the whole evening talking about your kids. I know, as parents, they’ve become something of a specialist subject for most of us, but they’re not the focus of date night. You are!
9. “Oh go on then…”
You may be on a diet, cutting out carbs on weekdays or avoiding sugary treats altogether…but not on date night. Think of it as a special occasion, like your birthday or an anniversary; a time to indulge and throw caution to the wind. So, when the waiter asks if you want to see the dessert menu, the answer should always be YES!
10. Don’t ‘switch off’ as soon as you get home
Thinking back to your single days, if you were lucky enough to bring a hot date home with you after a night out, your immediate priority wouldn’t be to do the washing up, plump the sofa cushions and put on your flannel PJs. You’d offer them a drink, carry on the conversation and, well, you know…
So, try your best not to switch back into domestic mode as soon as you walk through the front door. The chores can wait until tomorrow!
I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s post!
So, when was the last time you and your partner went on a proper date night without the kids? How often do you do it? And do you have any other tips for fellow parents on how to ensure date night is a night to remember?!
As always, we’d love to hear from you, so please do share your thoughts and recommendations with the Group via the comments section below!
This sponsored post was written in collaboration with Care.com, the world’s largest service for finding high-quality carers for all your care needs (from childcare and babysitting to special needs and elderly care).
We’ve been using them for a while now and it really is a brilliant service. In case you’re interested, you basically sign up as a premium member with a monthly, quarterly or annual subscription, which gives you access to carers of all kinds that live near you.
As a member, you can then post jobs (for example, finding a babysitter that will cook kids’ meals, do bath time, clean the house or do the ironing while you’re out!!), chat with applicants, read reviews from other parents and agree hourly rates that suit you! All this will make it easier for you to identify the best candidates before you meet and vet them, to ensure the chosen carer is the right fit for your family.