“What if we just stayed in and ordered pizza tonight with the kids, instead of driving into the city for dinner?” It was the late afternoon and I was laying on our bed, still wearing my leisure wear from the day and trying to keep myself from dozing off. It had been a long day, fraught with sibling squabbles, never-ending housework and a teething baby. I sighed a bit of relief and replied to my husband, “Yah, I think that’s a good idea. I was looking forward to our date night, but honestly, I’m worn out from the day and I’d rather stay in now.”
Some version of this conversation happens often whenever we try to plan a date night out. You see, my husband and I are in a season of life right now where despite our best intentions and efforts, date nights are hard to come by. After trying to work around my husband’s TDY schedule, finding a night that we don’t have kid sports/activities, securing a babysitter, and trying to muster up the energy after a long day of work and parenting, it is often tough to actually get ready and go somewhere. If all of that was not enough, our youngest is a baby and we have not reached the point where we feel comfortable enough with leaving her alone with someone unfamiliar. Therefore, we choose to bring the baby with us whenever we have a date night out, at least for now.
So, in this season of our life, we have essentially two choices: temporarily forgo date nights altogether, or start embracing date nights in. We have chosen the latter, since we recognize the importance of intentionally carving out time just for us. We know that at some point, sooner than we think, we will be able to resume our date nights on the town. While I do look forward to trying new restaurants or fun activities again in the future, we are in no rush to get through this sweet season of life and are truly enjoying our time spent together at home.
Maybe you are in a similar season of life, where date nights are hard to come by, or maybe you have the means to go out for an evening, but between busy work schedules, health issues, inclement weather, or any other obstacle, getting out of the house is difficult. Whatever situation you may be in, I would encourage you to try getting creative with spending intentional time together, without ever leaving the comfort of your home. Here are some ways that my husband and I have been able to have a date at home, successfully.
Find a local cheese shop, bakery, cafe, or any specialty restaurant/store that you can order food ahead of time for pick up, and pick up your order on the day of your date. We have a local cheese shop near our current military installation that makes Date Night Charcuterie Boxes. You can make requests for preferred items in the boxes, or choose to be surprised by the Chef’s Choice. Ordering these Date Night Boxes has become our favorite date night tradition because we have had the opportunity to try, and learn about, so many unfamiliar meats and cheeses that we would have otherwise never tried! In the past, we have found a local bakery or restaurant that we like and picked up a few different desserts to bring home and enjoy together. Once it is time for our date, (ahem, the kids are in bed) we pick out a movie or documentary that we’ve been wanting to see and curl up on the couch with our treats.
Another mainstay of our date nights in, has been game nights! We love games, so having the opportunity to play something together is always a fun idea and time well spent. We have enjoyed playing board games, cards, Would You Rather, and my all time favorite, Nintendo’s Mario Kart (I am proud to declare that I am still the reigning Mario Kart Champion of my household, regardless of what my family may say). If you have the opportunity, consider inviting another couple or two over and enjoy a double date night in together.
If you enjoy drinking wine or beer, consider planning a wine and cheese tasting, or a beer and chocolate tasting, for your date. You can order wine/beer and cheese/chocolate pairings from multiple websites, if you have the time to plan ahead. Or, a quick Google search can provide some suggestions that you can purchase locally at a store. However you choose to go about obtaining your items, sitting down together to try different pairings can lead to an enjoyable new experience together, and no one has to plan on being the designated driver.
If you both enjoy working in the kitchen, try cooking a new recipe together! Maybe you have always wanted to try making homemade pasta (like me!) or you have been wanting to recreate a special dish from a previous duty station. Getting in the kitchen together can be a fun way to walk down memory lane, or try something new, with the benefit of a meal to share at the end together. If you are feeling extra whimsical, leave the dishes and clean up for the next day. After all, you’re on a date, dishes can be tomorrow’s problem!