#1- Theme Night
Check out your local grocery sale ad and see what's on special that week, then plan a themed date night based off that. Pasta for $1? Italian night it is. Then make it your personal mission to together come up with a really fun (and inexpensive) Italian night menu. If you want to go all out even dress up to fit the role! It might sound silly, but this is where some of the sweetest and simplest memories are made.
#2- Kid Night
This could technically be classified as a theme night, but it's one of our personal favorites so I had to include it separately. Pick out your favorite old Disney movie that you watched on repeat 2035 times as a kid and watch it with your love while playing your favorite board games. Sometimes when life gets so busy and you feel like you're just paying the next bill and accomplishing the next task-and that's all you're doing, this really brings it back down to simplicity and laughter for a few hours. Order pizza, or better yet find out your man's favorite childhood dish and surprise him with it. Finish off the night with giant chocolate chip cookies and milk and remember 1 rule-take nothing seriously for one solid night. You're both 5 again.
#3- Reverse Breakfast
Everything that happens at the beginning of the day? Do it at the end. Get into your comfiest (but not oldest/grungiest...you know which ones I'm talking about there) pjs. Fix a huge breakfast. Gather a stack of newspapers to swap your favorite comics and do the crosswords together, and a funny TV show on DVD, and go back to bed with it all. Breakfast in bed at the end of the day.
This may sound like a "duh" kind of idea, but really I think it's kind of overlooked. Either grab subs at the local sandwich shop or pack a PB&J for crying out loud. Then remember some fun stuff to get you both active and laughing, like bikes, fishing poles, rollerblades, frisbees, or even sidewalk chalk to challenge each other to who can make the best public love letter on the sidewalk. Have fun with it!
#5- Begin the day with a Date
Who says date night has to happen after 5:00?? (Except for the title of this post that clearly states date night) Sometimes we both know the day we are shooting for date day is going to be hectic and crazy, and odds are by the evening we are both going to be so exhausted that we'll be half asleep. Solution? Wake up 30 minutes early and slip away to a coffee shop or local breakfast spot together. Sure it's simple and not as long as an entire evening together, but something is better than nothing right? Plus I've noticed on the days we have done this we are both more "connected" throughout the day. Even if we're going in 2 different directions and going nuts, there's more communication still, there's more hugs and hand holding when we see each other. We're just "there". Even though it was just an 30 minutes or an hour we started our day focusing on our relationship, and that can't help but shift the way we think or feel for each other throughout that day.
#6- Take a Class Together
Check out a local paper and see what discount classes your town offers. Dancing? Cooking? Or something sports related for him? This is not only a fun way to learn something new together, but it is also one way to guarantee date night. If you are in a season of life where you're just struggling getting motivated to have a frequent date night this is a great place to start because 1-you don't have to be responsible for planning the date, you just go the class together, and 2-if the class is once a week or every other week then there's no question as to whether or not you'll find time for date night that week. It's already set for you and all you have to do is show up.
#7- Take a Drive
Sometimes getting out for a bit is just what you need to reconnect, but it can be difficult to really talk when you're in a public place. So sometimes you just need to pack a blanket, grab a cup of coffee, and go for a drive. When you find a wide open spot pull over and pull out the blanket for some star gazing. Couldn't be simpler or sweeter to just get away without really going anywhere for a bit. I also really love incorporating some of these questions into the evening. If there could be one date I could choose to have every single week, this one would probably be it. There's no "fuss" over it, no planning. Just the two of you.
#8- Dessert only Please
This is a great idea if you have kids. Once the kids are in bed hire a sitter for an hour, it will be an easy job and maybe you could even pay them with free food since all they really have to do is watch tv and be there if the kids wake up. Then get dressed up and go to a fancy restaurant and have just dessert. If you don't want to go through the hassle of hiring a sitter or dressing up then one of you run out for dessert while the other puts the kids to bed, then meet in the bedroom for dessert in bed. You can even make your own dessert or fondue for an even more affordable option.
#9- Spa Night
I can almost guarantee you that if you leave out the facials, even your husband would enjoy a night of pampering. Start by soaking your feet together in a hot tub of water and epsom salt talking about the day, then move on to giving each other deluxe massages and finishing the night with a bubble bath. You can even set up the laptop in the bathroom with a favorite movie on while you soak. This is another one that could easily be done after the kiddos are in bed.
#10- Skip it
You might be wondering am I really suggesting to forego date night after I've given all these tips? Well, kinda. But not really. I love date night and I think there is tremendous value in it and is needed for healthy marriages in the long run. I really do. But you know what, sometimes it just doesn't get to happen. Things happen and while you try to protect that time as much as you can, sometimes it's out of your control. And that's okay. The first year of our marriage I was a freak about date night. So much so that it became more of a task to check off my to-do list like laundry and cleaning the toilet rather than an exciting time to reconnect with my new husband. When we didn't get to have date night one week I was overcome with guilt. I was a terrible wife and our marriage was going to fall apart in a matter of months for sure. Stop it. It's crazy. We hear so much about the importance of date night these days that if we aren't careful it will lose it's fun. Strive for date night, protect it and try your best to make it happen. But don't stress over it. Some week's are just too hectic and crazy. And on those weeks I urge you to do something we do. 30 minutes of electronic break-turn off the phones and tv and laptops, and just sit on the couch and talk. Just talk. How is work really going? What's got you worried this week? How can I pray for you? Date or no date, I'm still here and still love you deeply.