inspiring joy filled living

Date Nights In and Why I Love Them

May 8, 2020

After being married for almost 13 years, I can honestly say that I still absolutely love spending time with my guy.  When we first met 17 years ago, we were two super young college kids that had fun together no matter what we did. Take out from Panda Express? Yes! Sit and talk for hours over coffee? Anytime! Go see a terrible movie? So fun! (Anyone else see “The Core”???  Yeah, I didn’t think so!) 

Now with three kids in tow, getting time to ourselves can seem nearly impossible, but when we do make the effort to hang out it is always worth it.  Even though I love getting dolled up in real clothes (a change-up from my usual leggings!), what I’ve come to realize is that our precious moments at home in our comfiest clothes can be just as special as a night out.  

I’ve also learned that with kids in the house life can feel like an endless game of whack-a-mole.  Today I spent an hour–with the kids helping me–scrubbing acrylic paint off the pavers in our backyard.  Never a dull moment.  And it is so dang easy to get swept up in the craziness of the day and forget about the cute guy that I share a home with.  What all this means for our marriage is that we need to make it a priority and be intentional with the time we do have.  It takes work to have a strong marriage, but the investment is so worth it. 

Maybe this scenario is similar in your household. We have become really good at conversations that sound like, 

“Who is picking up the girls from softball practice?” 

“Did you call the fridge repair guy?” 

“Don’t forget it’s your Mom’s birthday dinner on Saturday” 

“I’m going to Costco, do you need anything?”  

Of course, those conversations need to happen in order for life to run smoothly and for no one to be forgotten at the softball field, but the problem arises when those are the only conversations that are happening.  When life becomes so busy that marriage takes a back seat to all the other commitments of daily life.  

We love getting away for a night or (gasp!) a whole weekend when we can, but those are few and very far between in a season with young kids.  So, one of the ways we have found to reconnect is with at-home date nights.  

This feels particularly timely because as I type this we are going into week seven of being quarantined due to the COVID-19 pandemic and juggling everything is downright exhausting.  The lines between taking care of kids, running a business, being a wife, and maintaining a home are so blurred right now.  As we are all learning to navigate this new normal, I find myself really needing to carve out nights with my hubs now more than ever!

Here are a few tips on how we make Stay In Date Nights fun.

Disclaimer…sometimes this looks like wearing the kids out and getting them to bed early.  Or getting the three-year-old to bed and bribing the other two to stay in their rooms and read.  Or if all else fails–they get a movie and our date continues after we get them in bed.  Parenting is all about being flexible, right?!

Top 10 Ideas for Date Nights In

1. Order yummy food in. For us, this looks like something extra delicious that our kids would shed tears over if we served it to them. Our top two kid-free favs are sushi and Indian food.  

2. Plan a movie night with all the fixings. Or better yet–a movie/Netflix/binge-worthy show like Homeland! Make popcorn and pick up those yummy Red Vines you only eat at the movie theater. So good!

3. Light a fire in the fireplace and curl up on the rug with pillows and blankets. Once you’re comfy, have a game night or watch that movie you have been dying to see.  

4. Couples massage. For me, nothing says I love you more than a shoulder and neck massage! Justin can’t resist a good foot massage. This one is a win-win!

5. Get cozy and make it romantic. Light your favorite candles, drink the good bottle of wine you have been saving, wear your coziest slippers or fuzzy socks, turn on some great music and talk! It’s amazing what you can learn about each other when you’re not interrupted!

6. Go outside. Watch a sunset, take in the night air. Sometimes it’s just nice to have a change of scenery. We bought an outdoor fire table a few years back and love sitting out there. It is so fun to bring out cozy blankets to snuggle under as we chat. Even though we’re just in the backyard, it feels like we are far away!

7. Try something new! Maybe a new book. At times we have shared reading passages from a book to each other. It could look like trying a new TV show you wouldn’t normally pick. Maybe playing a new song for each other. Do a puzzle together. The point is to try something different, together!

8. Dinner of appetizers. I love to snack and a dinner of appetizers is one of my favorite things. Something about a beautiful platter of food just makes my heart happy. Add chocolate and it’s even better! I love to get ideas from the cookbook “Platters and Boards: Beautiful, Casual Spreads for Every Occasion” by Shelly Westerhausen. Plus the photography is beautiful and it’s just fun to read.

I was also inspired by a dear friend, Kiira, who makes the most gorgeous charcuterie boards. You can check her out on Instagram @eyeheartprettythings

9. Wine Tasting. This one is fun and a great way to try something new. I love Trader Joe’s because you can get several bottles of wine at a great price. Bonus if you pick up some yummy cheese and crackers or other snacky items to go along with the wine.  

10. Look through old pictures together. Taking a walk down memory lane to when the magic all began might be one of my favorite ways to spend a date night. I love pouring over our old college pics and wedding albums. Laughing at funny memories and tearing up over others. Oh man and if you bring out the baby pictures of our littles, I’m toast! I have no idea how our oldest baby is turning 10 this year?! Crazy! Looking through all those old pictures are such a beautiful reminder of all the memories we have shared. And then daydreaming out loud about our next 5, 10, 20 years is really fun too. Now that we are out of the baby phase, I’m excited for more adventures (and pictures!) of our family. 

Let’s Change Things Up!

What if instead of a date night, you do a date brunch? Or lunch? Or 2pm coffee break? Or 4pm puzzle date? Especially with life being so upside down during the quarantine, maybe letting the kids have a movie in the afternoon is worth it so you can take an hour to have coffee together and recharge both of your batteries.  

What are your favorite stay in date night ideas? How do you relax and connect? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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