Becomming a Connected Couple: 5 Out-Of-The-Box Date Ideas for Busy Parents

Are you too tired, too busy, or too unmotivated to date your partner since having children?   

You are not alone.  I talk with parents everyday who rarely spend quality time focusing on each other.  My recommendation is that they START DATING.  It is not too late.  But dating doesn't need to mean putting on make-up and making dinner reservations.  Dating can look like ANYTHING as long as you feel connected with your partner while you are doing it.  Read on to find out WHY you should be dating your partner and get 5 QUICK IDEAS about how to make it happen.  

What is Dating?

When you first meet someone, you date in order to get to know each other.  You schedule formal times when you’ll be spending time together, talking, doing activities, and deciding whether you want to spend more time together. When on a date you are focused on having a good time, but also paying attention to whether your date is having a good time.  You are actively trying to connect and engage the person you are on a date with.

Once you get married or settle into a committed relationship -- dating changes. Dates happen less officially and tend to focus on special occasions: birthdays, anniversaries, celebrations, etc.  If you don’t have children, you may or may not feel that you need to date in order to stay connected with your partner. Likely, you get to spend a lot of time together regardless of whether you date or not.

Once you become a parent, everything changes.  You no longer have lots of time and energy to focus on each other.  While you might see each other a great deal, you won’t be connecting with your partner unless you make it a priority.  

Dating Once You Have a Child is Essential.

Similar to dating early on in your relationship, when kids are in the picture you need to date in order maintain a connection with your partner.  You have to devote time to listening to your partner, expressing care, affection, and playfulness with each other.  Creating meaningful time together is vital to healthy and strong relationship. The problem, of course, is that time and energy are in short supply when you have kids, jobs, and busy lives.  It is difficult to arrange time alone together, and even if you do, it can be difficult to truly connect.  

Five Out-of-the-Box Date Ideas for Busy Parents

  1. Lunch date--Got daycare?  Meet each other for lunch or coffee while the kids are in childcare.
  2. Play date--Go for a run, hike, yoga, dance class.  Who says a date needs to involve dinner, or even eating for that matter.  Remember what you used to love to do together before kids, and go do that.  
  3. Nap date--Does your child nap? Decide to have a “date” the next time your kiddo is snoozing.  Here are the steps:  1) Pick a day--weekends are probably best or a day when you are both home from work. 2) Once you get your kid(s) down for the nap, drop whatever you are doing and go HAVE YOUR DATE.  YAY! 3) Decide in advance what you are going to do while your child naps, so you don't waste any time.  Need some ideas:  Have a conversation about x,y, or z; get naked; watch a show together; swap massages, order in lunch.
  4. Swap a date night with another couple.  How does this work?  “Couple One” goes out on a date while one person from “Couple Two” comes over to “babysit.”  I’ve  found this works really well if you can put your child down to sleep before the “sitter” comes over, that way you don’t stress about your friend having to deal with screaming child for hours.  They get to read, have a glass of wine, etc (it’s a win-win). The next time, “Couple Two” goes on a date and someone from “Couple One” comes and watches their kid(s).  It’s like getting a babysitter but free and often more flexible.  
  5. Date-in night:  This is a great strategy to get a weekly date night on the books. Here are the steps:
    1. Choose a night once a week.  Make it regular if at all possible.
    2. Make dinner easy.  This could mean you get take out, could mean you eat left overs, or could mean you make something in advance.  The point being, getting the food on the table shouldn’t be stressful.  Except, if cooking together is what makes your hearts sing, go ahead and make it gourmet!
    3. Feed the kids separately (and on the early side) and put them to bed.
    4. Dim the lights, get out the candles, and have a date right in your own house.