Imagine a relaxing evening—well, try to imagine. It’s hard when you have little kids running around. Finding time for date night is near impossible for parents with young kids. Finding a sitter, making plans, worrying about what’s happening at home even when you’re out at dinner… Sound familiar? If you want to press pause on parenting for a few hours this Valentine’s Day to enjoy a relaxing, romantic evening, you’re in luck. Here is everything you’ll need to make your dreams come true: meet your date night survival guide.
Make a plan
Yes, logistics are boring. We’re all suckers for spontaneous romantic gestures, but with kids to worry about, who has time for it? For an uninterrupted evening enjoying each other’s company, you need to know in advance:
- What is your itinerary?
- Where will the kids be?
- What constitutes a “call me” emergency?
Whether you bring a sitter into your home or drop the kids off at their grandparents’ house, you need to know where they are and vice versa. The caregiver needs to know when you’ll be back or what time your movie is. They need to know that your kid’s bedtime protests aren’t anything to worry about and will be over soon. They need to know that screens go away an hour before bedtime. Usually a list will do the trick. And if this sitter or family member already knows the drill, even better!
Gather your supplies
Picture it in your head: what is your perfect, romantic evening? It doesn’t have to be a movie moment, just something fun or relaxing—whatever your ideal date night, you need the right supplies to pull it off with a minimum of “I miss mommy” tantrums from the kids and “I need to check on the kids” panic moments from you. While every family and every date will be different, here are some of the supplies you’ll need to make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible:
Night on the town ideas
Sure, you could do dinner and a movie. It’s classic! But there are so many other options out there to pursue similar interests, learn new things, and find adventure. For any out of the house date plans, take the following with you.
- A sitter for the kids
- Your phone (set to “do not disturb” with the exception of your sitter)
- A rideshare app (just to be safe!)
- A way to record some memories (polaroids, anyone?)
Things to do for date night
Go online and check out your area. Find an activity or event that you both will love. Here are some ideas:
- Find a music or comedy show in your area
- Take a cooking or painting class together
- Tour a museum, brewery, or other place that fascinates you
If you need to be home during the evening, you can always start early, dropping off the kids with the sitter and going straight to brunch or to a walk in the park.
At home date night ideas
- A place for the kids to spend the night (sitter, friend, or relative)
- Your favorite grown up beverage
- A meal prep service or takeout
- A safe, out of sight place for your phone (check out this out-of sight charging box!)
Things to do for date night
Just because you’re staying home doesn’t mean your options are limited. Here are some ideas for your special night in.
- Takeout, Netflix, chill. You do enough work, take a night off.
- VIP dance party. No kids, no rules. Crank the tunes and dance.
- Cook a fancy dinner together… And you don’t have to do the dishes till tomorrow.
You might see each other every day, but it might have been a while since you’ve actually had time to talk about something other than the basic stuff that keeps the household running. No matter what you end up doing, the most special part of your night is just catching up—simple, but special anyway.
Make the night tantrum-proof
Let’s nip the meltdowns in the bud by making sure the kids have everything they need for a fun, quiet night. No missing stuffed animals, no forgotten bedtime books—you’ve got this. Here’s a quick catch-all of things your kids will need to have handy while you’re on your romantic date:
- Favorite toys, security blankets/stuffed animals
- A dinner menu they can’t say “no” to (mac n’ cheese, anyone?)
- Fun activities at the ready (craft supplies, props for imaginative play)
- A way to get in touch (for saying good night!)
- Your secret weapon: the promise of a reward for good date night behavior
Yes, it is possible for parents to get away, have a night off, and enjoy just being in each other’s company again. And though it seems daunting, it’s actually a lot easier than it sounds. If you tend to get stressed out with your hectic schedule, plan a monthly—or even weekly—date night! With the right plan, it can be a win/win for you and the kids. Happy Valentine’s Day, parents!