A while back, I wrote a post about the importance of date nights in marriage. At the time I wrote that post, my husband and I didn’t have any children, nor was I pregnant. A few months later, I wrote a post about why celebrating Valentine’s Day and date nights in general was so crucial. At this time, I was pregnant with our son and I anticipated that with the addition of a little baby into out lives, date nights would require more effort.
What I didn’t realize at the time though, was how obsolete date night would become for us, especially in the beginning. The first three months after having our son was the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced. The months following that, after we got into our “groove of being parents” life naturally became consumed with our baby. Getting together with extended family on the weekend became the norm because everyone wanted to see the baby. Being a mom who breastfed and disliked pumping meant I was always there too. And of course, being a first-time mom meant I was reluctant to leave the baby with anyone unless I was around too. (I’m still working on this last part, but I’ll save that for another post!)
I didn’t mind the new norm. After all, there were perks all around. Our son was lavished over by happy grandparents, aunts, uncles etc., we spent time with family and we got a break from having to watch over him all the time.
But as the months passed and our baby became a toddler, I started to miss my husband and I. Sure, my husband and I got to spend time with each other in our house once our son went to bed, but I missed doing what we did when we were dating and married before our son came along. I missed going out to restaurants as a couple, spontaneously deciding to ride the motorcycle on a warm summer evening, or even being able to ride the motorcycle with him at all.
Granted, on special occasions (birthdays, anniversaries, weddings etc), the grandparents watched over our son while we went out for a few hours, but it ended up being that we only made an effort to do this on special occasions. Which was fine at first, until the next special occasion was far too many months away for me to wait…
I got restless for what was slowly becoming a scarce occurrence. I didn’t want to end up being the couple who barely did “couply” things together because it was too hard to find a babysitter to watch the kids, because routine had taken over, or worse yet, because they couldn’t be bothered to make an effort.
I also started to realize that I didn’t want to be – unfortunately – like a lot of the older married couples who I knew in my life who never did date nights, who took their kids everywhere they went, and who didn’t understand why I’d miss an event to get together with everyone just so I could be alone with my husband. (A great topic for another post.) I started to become more aware of whose marriage advice I should listen to and whose I should disregard. Remember, people will advise you on what they know and believe in life.
I gradually started to push for small outings whenever I could. For instance, how about an hour motorcycle ride after dinner while we were at the grandparents house? Yes, please!
Last weekend however, my husband and I had already lined up babysitters (aka grandma and auntie!) to watch our son at our house so we could attend an event. The event got cancelled the day before. At that point I was faced with 3 options. (1) I could cancel the babysitters and we could go to the grandparents house as we would normally do. (2) I could cancel the babysitters and we would just stay home. (3) I could keep the babysitters and plan a date night.
Guess which option I chose?
Yup, #3! I chose date night.
The babysitters were happy, our son was happy and my husband and I were happy.
My husband and I went to a local Mexican restaurant, cruised all over the city on the motorcycle, and then ended our date with a trip to a local ice cream shop. It was only 4 hours that we were gone but it was the best 4 hours I’ve had in a long time!
I’ll admit though, it was hard leaving our son. (I’ve heard about having those feelings from other moms, but now I’m actually starting to experience them.) I felt guilty, and grandma literally had to distract him so we (read: I) could leave unnoticed. I checked the phone at regular intervals to see if they called if they needed anything. (I’m happy to report that I did not call to check up things as I knew they would call me if anything.) I caught myself talking about him more than once while I devoured my chimichanga! But as the evening wore on, I started to relax and enjoy just us.
At one point while we were strolling near the lake, I turned to my husband and even asked, “When was the last time we even held hands???” I honestly didn’t recall; we are usually holding our son or pushing a stroller.
Our date night made me want to plan more date nights, for non-special occasions, more often. It made me want to date my husband all over again to bring back all those dating memories… and this is exactly the positive side effect that date night can have on your relationship. Which is why everyone – especially the parents reading this post – need to do it more often. And that’s all I have to say about that. :)