As busy working parents with four kids, a date night to us is more like an urban myth. With no family close by and money spent on a babysitter during the day, my husband and I can probably count the times we've been out alone together on two hands.
But when our 8th wedding anniversary rolled around this past week, we wanted to celebrate. So kudos to my husband for getting creative, and instead of a date night, we did something else that worked so brilliantly I wish I had thought of it myself.
If you're finding it hard to schedule a date night with your spouse or partner, here are five alternatives that work just as well.
1. Date Dinner
Alright, so it's pretty similar to date night, however, going out late in the evening doesn't work well for us, particularly because it's hard to financially rationalize paying a sitter for four kids when we've already got one coming during the day.
So in our case, we asked her if she'd change her hours for one day, and we left around 4pm and got home just after bedtime, around 8:30pm. We completely missed the dinner crowd and had a quiet, restaurant all to ourselves, plus no kids to feed or throw crayons at us, and we were home in time to get a few things done around the house and actually get some sleep.
Tip: Often times you can find a high school or college student who's available after school, so utilize their services!
2. Breakfast Date
If you've got school-aged kids, see if you (or your spouse) can come in late to the office one day, drop your kiddos off, and head to your favorite local breakfast joint or diner. It's a wonderful way to start the day off, it's much cheaper than a date night (no booze bill!), and you're not even paying for a babysitter. Awesome!
Tip: Many churches and preschools offer a Mom's Morning Out program that's extremely affordable.
3. Late night dessert
It's been ages since I've gone out for late night anything with anyone, let alone my spouse. But I love the idea of going out after dinner (when the kids are in bed) to grab a little yummy something, either at your fave restaurant or even your local ice cream joint. A milkshake with two straws sounds pretty darn romantic.
Tip: Start a babysitting co-op with neighbors where you each get a night out along as a couple. In our 'hood, one neighbor (mom or dad) heads over to the others' house. The caveat: Kids all have to be asleep in bed and you can't stay out too late.
4. Coffee break
How about a late morning rendezvous to give a little jolt to your day? If you or your partner can spare even just 30 minutes, you can turn your regular coffee break into a chance to get some quality alone time together. You could even brew your own and find a spot that's convenient for both of you.
Tip: Many cities have affordable work and play spaces, where parents can drop the kids off for supervised play with parents can work in the next room over. Take the kids in for 30-45 minutes and grab a coffee with your spouse or partner.
5. Do lunch
Lunch dates can be the easiest for busy parents, especially if you or your spouse or partner has a job where you get a lunch break. It might be tough if you work far away from each other, but maybe you can take an extra long one every now and then. You don't have to worry about childcare because it's already built into your day.
Tip: Pack a lunch and visit your spouse or partner (if that's an option). It's free and save you time if you're driving to meet somewhere from separate places.
What do you do instead of the typical date night?
Photo via Flickr/kevin dooley