A survival guide: The first date night after having a baby

With those first few weeks of newborn life safely under your belt, you might be dreaming about how nice it would be to finally have some alone time with your partner again. It is likely you’ve started to feel like it is well overdue – especially once you add on all those long pregnancy months of fatigue, aches and nausea you spend at home. 

Now that you’re back on track (complete exhaustion aside) you’re thinking that a dinner out some place, where the two of you could take a deep breath and reconnect (over your favourite Thai curry) is just what you both need.

But leaving your baby isn’t as easy as you thought it would be, right? Did no one warn you about the invisible umbilical cord that stays in place once the real one has been cut? It makes the very idea of ever leaving your baby almost unbearable.

However you feel about leaving your baby, you both deserve a date night, especially after everything you’ve been through. And I bet your partner is desperate for some time alone with you. So dig out your glad rags and pick your restaurant. It’s time for a night out lady, and here’s how to make it as stress free as possible.

Select your sitter

If you’re lucky enough to have a parent nearby, book them in for babysitting. Most grandparents are always keen to help out with babysitting, especially if it means they get alone time cuddling your baby. If you have a parent who lives out of town but is keen for the job, consider a temporary bed arrangement for the night. If your parents and in-laws aren’t available, consider a family friend or a new mum friend from mother’s group. Whoever you can pick, make sure you feel comfortable with your choice and trust them implicitly.

Leave all the details

Let your sitter know where you’ll be going and make sure they have your partner’s mobile number and your own. If it makes you feel better, leave a detailed word document describing how you’d like everything to be done, as it’s important that you feel comfortable with the whole scenario. If you’re feeling anxious, ask your babysitter to send you photos of your newborn throughout the evening so you know everything is fine.

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Plan for feeding

Even if you plan on being back for a breastfeed, it could help to leave a bottle out for your baby just in case, as your babysitter won’t be returning if you leave them with a screaming infant for an hour. If you’ve been expressing and know your baby will take a bottle, make sure to leave enough for a full feed so you can enjoy some decent time on your date. If you’ve not had luck with your baby taking a bottle, give her a nice big feed before you go and be back by the time the next feed is due.

It’s okay to feel anxious (and all the other emotions)

Speaking of anxiety, it’s completely normal and healthy to feel worried the first time you leave your baby. After all, the two of you have been inseparable for the best part of a year now, it’s only natural to experience some separation anxiety when you first spend some time apart. For this reason, keep your expectations super low about your first evening out, so you don’t throw any other emotions into the mix. You’ve got enough going on without having to worry about running late or not having the right shoes for your outfit.

Keep it short and sweet at first

This isn’t the night for a big trip into town to wait for a table at the latest uber-cool eatery. Keep the plans simple and head to your nearest cosy restaurant where you can be close to home if you need to get back in a hurry. If it’s quiet and friendly, even better: it will help you relax!

Allow yourself plenty of time for getting ready

With your nerves likely to be on edge as it is, putting pressure on yourself to be ready for a certain time isn’t going to help. Your baby crying, needing a last minute feed, or having to search for a misplaced earring are all things that can and probably will get in the way of your special night out. Do yourself a favour and book your babysitter to arrive a full hour before you’re due to leave the house. That way, you can get some help keeping your baby occupied while you add the final touches to your outfit.

It’s okay if all you talk about is the baby

When you and your partner finally get your alone time together, you might find your conversations have changed a little. If you find that no matter how much you search for a different topic to talk about, conversation always comes back to your baby, rest assured that you’re normal. Don’t worry, one day soon you’ll return to your usual, vibrant self who used to love talking about current affairs or your mates from work. For now, life has changed and it’s your baby who’s front of mind; wanting to talk endlessly about her is perfectly normal.

Go easy on the vino

You might have missed your shiraz, but this is not the best time to make up for all those months of abstinence. Not only will it go to your head more quickly than it used to, because your body’s tolerance will have reduced, but the last thing you want to deal with the next day is a hangover. Parenting with a hangover is worse than labour. Seriously.

Enjoy your date!

Lastly, make sure you enjoy yourself, even if it’s the shortest date night on record. This isn’t meant to be a big night out, but a chance for the two of you to reconnect without your baby to steal attention from either of you, and time is irrelevant. Emotional intimacy is ideal for keeping the two of you strong and close, which you both need to be when you become parents. Enjoy reminding each other of how good you are together and don’t forget to hold hands.

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