From Then to Now…
Before you were a mom, you were a girlfriend, a fiancee, and a wife. You slipped on that LBD and a pair of heels and met your man in the kitchen where he had a glass of wine waiting for you. He whispered, “Wow! You look beautiful tonight” as he pulled you in for a kiss. You went out for a nice meal, more wine, and caught a little live music afterward before calling it a night at 1:00am.
Then you became a mom.
You pull on those yoga pants and a pair of fuzzy slippers, meet your husband in the kitchen where he left all the dirty dishes in the sink, and whisper, “Wow! You look like you didn’t get enough sleep last night” as he waves “bye” and leaves for work. You rally all of the kids and drive through the Starbucks line for a cup of coffee and a muffin on your way to dropping them off at school before feeling like you’re ready to call it a day at 9:00am.
While day-to-day we often feel like two ships passing in the night with our spouses, I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t need to be that way. Date nights with our husbands and mom-life with our kids are not mutually exclusive. In fact, I firmly believe that in order to be the best version of “mom”, we should be focusing more attention on “wife”.
Researchers at the Marriage Foundation and the University of Lincoln completed a study on the long-term benefits of prioritizing date nights in a marriage. They found that couples who had a “date night” at least once a month were 14% less likely to end their marriage than couples who went out less frequently, or not at all. I’m certainly not here to say that if you don’t have date nights your marriage is doomed – not at all! Rather, I’m trying to make an argument for us moms that say “But, I don’t have time to “date” my husband again – my kids are the priority”. My answer to that is, “making your marriage the priority, IS making your kids the priority”.
Finding the Time
Between kids’ activities, work schedules, family gatherings, appointments, and daily living it can be so hard to find the time to commit to weekly or monthly date nights. However, as time management expert, Laura Vanderkam, suggests in her Ted Talk, time is a choice; if you claim to not have time for something, it’s just simply not a priority for you. Laura recommends to schedule in time during your day/week/month and making sure it’s a priority.
Step by Step, Date by Date
So that leads us to why you started reading this post in the first place. How do you prioritize date night? Where do you even start? I’ve broken it down to several steps that have worked for my husband and me, and I’ve seen them work for others as well!
Discuss a standing day of the week, or date each month, that works well for you both and put it in your calendar. Make sure this is a recurring invite that syncs to both of your calendars. Once it’s on your calendar, prioritize it. Do not reschedule every time something else comes up. This should be your top priority that other events and appointments can work around.
Budget for it
A friend once told me “date nights are an investment in your marriage.” And if that is true, which I believe it is, then your finances should reflect as such. When setting up your family budget, think about your date nights as not only a priority but also an investment. If that means you need to take off $50/month from your coffee budget to shift to a date night budget, then consider yourself a wise investor. That being said, date nights do not have to mean an expensive dinner and a bottle of wine. A date night can be a picnic with a blanket at a park, an evening swim at the community pool, or attending a free concert event at one of the local Cedar Rapids area venues!
Pre-schedule a sitter
If you don’t schedule a sitter, or a family member to help with the kids during your date night, your date won’t happen. Just as you planned a standing day of the week with your husband, plan a standing day of the week with your sitter or family member. Having it prescheduled with them is just as important as prescheduling it with your spouse.
Be intentional about it
Try new places you haven’t been to before so that you two can experiences something new together. Take turns picking what you do, maybe even planning the whole night and keeping it a secret, and then surprising your spouse with what you planned. Try to keep “kid talk” to a minimum. I get it, we love our kids and want to talk about them all the time, but use this time to talk about you two – no kids allowed!
10 Date night conversation starters
Has it been a while since you “dated” your spouse? Not sure what you’d even talk about (since I’m a meanie and said to keep “kid talk” to a minimum)? Here are some fun, probing questions that will get the ball rolling…
- “What’s the best thing you learned from your mother?”
- “Where would we like to go on our next big anniversary?”
- “What’s the best way for your partner to comfort you when you’re sad or stressed?”
- “How is our relationship unique?”
- “What would you like old age to look like?”
- Which habits or traits would you like to give up to prevent passing them on to your child?”
- “What have you lost since childhood that you’d like to regain?”
- “Whose relationship inspires you the most?”
- “What would you most like to accomplish in the next 12 months?”
Date Night Ideas
Alright, you’ve gotten this far, and you’re ready for a date! Here are some suggestions for restaurants and things to do (even free options!). Get creative. Allow this list to inspire a customized date night tailored to you and your spouse!
- Check out CRM’s ‘Sunday Funday’ post for a weekly round up of fun events happening in and around Cedar Rapids.
- Pack a picnic, bring a blanket and a bottle of wine, and go to a quiet park to watch the sunset.
- Bike the Cedar Valley Nature Trail with a specially curated playlist of all your favorite songs together (don’t forget to throw in your wedding song!)
- Bring out your inner kid (just don’t tell your kids you went without them) and jump around at Sky Zone.
- Attend a Kernel’s game.
- Pizza night at Walker Homestead. While they’re currently only open to the public Thursday evenings, they do also have once-a-month farm-to-table dinners amidst their beautiful vineyards.
- Throw the frisbee around at a disc-golf course.
- Workout together.
- Pick each other’s outfits out and go to dinner in your spouse’s favorite outfit of yours!
- Get ½ price wine and pizza at Lincoln Wine Bar (on Wednesdays)
- Go hiking together at Palisades Park.
- Enjoy an evening coffee and concert at Stillwater Coffee Co.
- Grab a bite to eat at the Newbo Market and attend their summer Friday concert series.
Whatever you do, make it yours! This is your investment in your marriage. Let these ideas inspire you, but not intimidate you. I would love to hear some of your date night recommendations – make sure you comment your ideas below and let’s inspire each other!
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