Date night is a thing for many parents.
I get it. It’s time spent together away from the kids and can remind you of what makes you two sing as a couple – why you decided to hook up with this person and do life with them in the first place. It’s a nice, regular way to reconnect.
But date night can sometimes feel like a chore. Another thing on your to-do list and one that involves energy (when you’re tired) and organisation (when you are sick of organising). It can also be expensive paying a babysitter on top of the dinner bill.
But my friend has given me an idea for bringing back that ‘us’ sparkle, and it may be more doable and effective than date night.
Let me tell you more.
On Mother’s Day, my friend spent the ENTIRE DAY walking around a shopping mall, listening to a podcast on her phone. Her family had given her toast and tea in bed, as well as handmade gifts, but after that, she didn’t have any plans.
Her mum was overseas, and her husband planned to visit his own mother with their kids. So she was FREE for the day! She could spend Mother’s Day however she wished.
Although she didn’t buy much at the mall, she did spend quite a bit of time in the cafe, sipping her coffee in peace. And then ordered another, because she could.
She perused the shops, while enjoying her poddy, and walked at her own pace.
She also didn’t have to share her fries with her little ones when she treated herself to a burger with a side of chips for lunch.
There were no car seat battles, no little person to wrangle in the shopping centre and no one pulling on her skirt because they wanted to visit the Thomas the Tank Engine ride in the other direction.
Just what the doctor ordered
She came home from her day out feeling refreshed. Happy. Energised. The podcast she’d been listening to was about the importance of parents giving their partners some time out to do their own thing.
So she suggested her man go out for a surf, and he did, for two hours.
On the way home, he picked up a bottle of wine.
That night, both mum and dad felt sparkly – as individuals and as a couple.
They’d both done their own thing and didn’t feel so suffocated and burnt out by family life. They cracked the shiraz, chatted, laughed and instead of feeling knackered, they watched a movie together after putting the kids to bed.
Their respective me-dates had refreshed them, and in turn, their relationship.
As for me
Hearing this made me think of the health of my own relationship.
My hubby and I don’t do date night. We occasionally go out, but a regular ‘us night’ just feels like a lot of effort. But like most tired parents, we are in need of a spark injection into our relationship. We are worn out. We are ‘happily married’, but sometimes feel like two ships in the night, too.
So getting back to my friend’s me-date. I think she may be onto something.
I know when my husband and I both, as individuals, spend a little time away from the family doing our own thing – for my music-loving man, this is mucking around in the studio with his old bandmates and me, catching up with a good friend for a yarn, or as sad as it sounds, going to Kmart ALONE (!) – we feel happier as individuals.
And there is a flow on effect from that.
When we are happier as people, we are more attractive to our partners (in every sense) and our kids are also energised by us.
The whole family is happier.
Better than date night?
Perhaps, it’s not so much a regular date night that we need to recharge our relationship batteries, but a me-date?
A me-date is much easier to organise. One parent can watch the kiddos, while the other one is out doing their own thing for a while.
A me-date also doesn’t have to cost the earth. It’s simply allowing each person some time to tap into what makes them smile as individuals.
But a me-date should still be scheduled in the calendar like date night – so there is a mutual understanding that this time is special, respected and given. It shouldn’t be just half an hour squeezed in here or there – but a good soaking of me-time, like a hot bath. And that’s why we need to plan for it because family life is busy.
And maybe, once a month or two, pop in a date night as well. Nothing beats a good old night out for recharging the relationship batteries.