Every parent has been there: you want to spend quality time with your partner, but it’s next to impossible to get out of the house or to set aside date night money in the family budget, or a combination of both. If you manage to actually get a date night on the calendar, it can be easily thwarted by a toddler with a fever or a last-minute babysitter cancelation. It seems to be an unwritten law of parenting and date nights: whatever can go wrong, will go wrong!
For this reason and more, it can be difficult to give your relationship the focus it deserves, especially when you have very young children. Relationship experts often tout the importance of dating your spouse, but many parents are simply unable to get away from the kids and other responsibilities. Even if the intention is there, execution can be tricky! Thus, the evolution of the modern “date night at home.” Check out the creative ideas below and plan to treat you and your partner to a special date soon – from the comfort of your own home!
1. Virtual Volunteering
If you and your spouse are do-gooders at heart but rarely have time to volunteer in the community now that your parenting responsibilities have piled up, consider partnering up on a service project you can do from home, just the two of you. Maybe it’s pouring some wine and writing cheerful cards for distribution to residents of local nursing homes, or scouring your bookshelves and boxing up gently used books for veterans through Operation Paperback. Whatever you choose, research shows that volunteering together forges positive bonds in your relationship, reminding you of your shared values and your gratitude for the life you’ve built together.
2. DIY Romantic Picnic
It doesn’t matter whether it’s a patch of grass, your front porch, or even your living room floor, there’s something about a picnic that simply screams romance. So, why not treat your spouse to one in the comfort of your own home? Lay out a blanket or table cloth, buy or prepare delicious and easy-to-eat finger foods and add your favorite beverages. Light a candle to instantly level-up the romance factor, or light a fire if weather permits.
3. Comfort Food Cook-Off
Are you getting bored with just watching the plethora of cooking competitions on television? It’s time to deal yourself in! Whether your comfort foods of choice are mac and cheese, lasagna, juicy burgers or chili, host a cooking showdown for two in your own kitchen. Make sure you have all the necessary ingredients on hand, then put on your aprons and cook alongside one another while you each prepare your own version of whichever dish you’ve chosen. If you’re feeling particularly motivated, double up with a dessert competition, too. The winner will get bragging rights, of course, but you can up the ante by agreeing to your own, more romantic terms, too…
4. Pizza and Beer Tasting for Two
If cooking together just isn’t your cup of tea, why not order in and make a night of it instead? Call your favorite local pizza joint and order three crust/toppings pairings neither of you have tried before and hit up your grocery store to mix and match a six-pack of beer varieties you’ve been wanting to try, too. You can either pair up your brews and bites or go rogue with your combinations in the moment. Either way, it’s a great opportunity to share in a new experience together – all from the comfort of home. This date night is super flexible, too. If pizza and beer aren’t appealing to you, make it white wines and sushi, wings and craft soda, or anything else you and your love have been dying to try.
5. Build Your Microadventure List
Lots of people – and couples – have bucket lists, which are fun to build but often read like a fantasy list of trips and experiences that aren’t truly attainable, at least not in the short term. Consider, instead, the microadventure. The term was coined by Alastair Humphreys, who felt it was important for people to have accessible, local adventures as often as possible. Humphreys primarily pitches outdoor adventures, but these microadventures can take on any context that’s right for you. As their name implies, microadventures are small and achievable, meaning they may be perfect for busy parents whose larger bucket list items are decades away from coming to fruition. So, spend an evening talking and dreaming with your partner, then choose your first microadventure and plan it out together.
6. Go Off the Grid
Can you remember the last time you set aside a few hours to just be together, with no phones or other technology to split your focus? If you’re like most of us, your screen addictions have likely had a negative impact on your relationships in general, and certainly your bond with your partner. Challenge yourselves to “go dark” for an evening, and you’ll be amazed at the power of reconnection you can experience when it’s truly just the two of you, with no distractions from the outside world. What’s particularly great about this date night idea is that you can also combine it with any of the other five on the list to make any date night at home extra meaningful. And, if you like the results, you can choose certain times every week to tune out the noise, and tune in to one another.
Parenting is hard. Relationships are hard. Maintaining a solid footing in both, especially when your children are little, can be a true challenge. If you listen to the experts and make an effort to date your spouse, however, you can continue building the foundation of your relationship, which becomes the foundation of your family, too. And while time away from home together is valuable, there’s so much you can do without wandering any further than your front porch, too. Happy dating!