I had promised to write a blog on date nights and somehow the topic was pushed aside. Now I am glad that it did because during the process I considered a new angle. So this blog will have a double focus – the importance of dates with your children AND the importance of dates if you are married.
With LPS spring break about to start, this may be a good week to consider trying to start taking each one of your kids on a date. A true date with your children should probably involve leaving at least some of the others at home, although I have been known to tell my kids that they are on a double date when I need to take two of them some place. My kids LOVE going on mommy dates. While I have occasionally done fun things one-on-one with my kids (such as individual Paint Yourself Silly trips or a quick stop for an ice cream cone), my most common date with my kids is a trip to the grocery store. That is usually where I need to go, and if I can get away with just bringing one of my darlings, it is better for all involved. Daddy dates often involve trips to the hardware store.
Many of our MOPS moms are a part of single income households and have limited funds. But please do not let that limit trying to spend time connecting with each one of your children one-on-one. We have also had mommy dates at home. Several times last several we would have mommy time. I would set the timer and spend that amount of time doing whatever that particular child wanted to do. When the timer beeped, I went on to the next child and next activity. One time I think I spent 30 minutes with each, but one time I was only able to devote 20 minutes. (At age 3, even my youngest understood this idea, but this would not work with a baby or young toddler! 🙂 ) While I do enjoy my children as a group, I often enjoy them even more as individuals. That is the time when I can really get to know them and really listen. So, if you have not ever taken your child on a date, now is the time to start.
Just to clarify, mommy dates happen every few weeks. I try to have the kids on a cycle, but I do lose track of whose turn it is. So, I might take two of my kids on a mommy date each month -the dates are a bit sporadic so far. Daddy dates happen some times, but mommy dates happen more since I am with the kids more often. Also, I am usually ready to take a break from being around ALL of my kids – taking just one seems very easy.
This year we decided to add a mommy/daddy birthday date. So far we managed to have our two winter birthday kids spend time alone with BOTH mom & dad. What fun memories! This took some planning and help from others, and we planned around times that the other kids were going to be at other events already. If the idea of dating your kids does seem daunting to you, find another friend who would also like to begin this and maybe taking turns watching kids during the day to help make this happen. Please know that for our family the dates have rarely involved very much money and sometimes even involve short amounts of time. The time spent with our children individually is FAR more important than the location where we spend the time!
Date nights with your hubby
I feel like that my writing of this section is a bit of a sham. My husband and I have never really managed regular date nights. We do have one night a week that we like watching a particular show together – does that count? That is not to say that we do not go out on dates, because we do sometimes. But honestly, we tend to enjoy just spending time at home together, after the kids are in bed of course. I am beginning to think that we will need to start actually “going out” again. As our kids are getting older, they are starting to stay up later sometimes. This will mean that we will need to start to actually leave the house if we want to have an uninterrupted conversation while we are both still awake enough to have one. Or maybe we just need to start sending our kids some place, so we can enjoy our home time. Any takers? 🙂
I asked members of the steering team if they consistently had date nights. Here were my two responses.
Sarah: We’ve done date nights and have not done date nights…
When we had no income, we didn’t do date nights – for obvious reasons…
When we were able to, we started up again and traded babysitting with dear friends or had Nana babysit.
Then we had twins and went back to no date nights – hard to find a babysitter for 4 kiddos especially when 2 are babies! 🙂
Now we are back to date nights again, but we are still not super regular yet…trying to get back to monthly dates!
Nana still babysits once in a while, but we are starting to swap babysitting with some friends again – that definitely helps! I think that swapping babysitting works well for two reasons:
1. It helps with the cost!
2. It gives you another couple who is encouraging you to go on a date and you get to encourage them as well
Elisabeth: For the past 9 years, my husband and I have swapped babysitting with another couple so that each couple can have one date night a month. Just this month, we started hiring a teenager to babysit for us once a month so that we can have 2 date nights a month. We have planned a 3 overnight getaways in the 13 years we’ve been married. We used grandparents to babysit for those. Our date nights aren’t fancy. Dinner out (especially when we’ve gotten restaurant gift cards from relatives), occasional movie, go for a walk in a park and take a picnic, walk the mall, get dessert. One time we used our date night to buy a grill without the kids in tow.
So, there you have two personal commentaries for how to make date nights happen!
One thing that Elisabeth talked about, my husband and I do. Overnight getaways! With the exception of one year (when I was nine months pregnant!), we have gone away every year for our anniversary for a night or two. Mostly we have gone to Mahoney State Park – an affordable place during the off season that is also quiet. We even often bring our food, so we can just stay put without even seeing anyone else. (Crockpots and coolers outside in January are your friends!) This time has been invaluable for us as a couple! We come back refreshed and reconnected.
I have to admit that we are spoiled because both of our families do live nearby and help with childcare. But I do know of 2 MOPS moms who have swapped childcare – one couple watched all of the kids for a week-end while the other couple left town for the week-end. The couple that stayed found that it was fairly easy to watch extra kids as the kids did entertain each other. The getaway couple plans to help the Lincoln couple get away sometime in the future (if they haven’t already!) There are bound to be other moms in MOPS who you could find that would be interested in this temporary children swapping idea.
If you have not gotten away with your husband in awhile, there are 2 opportunities available to you. The Family Life Today “Weekend to Remember” Conference will be in Omaha next week-end and in the Lincoln the following one. Please talk to Lorri if this interests you and you haven’t signed up yet. She and her husband helped to organize couples attending from First Free. And hey, it may not be too late to coordinate with a MOPS friend to help make this event possible for both of you. You and your hubby could go to the Omaha one, and she and her hubby could attend the Lincoln one or vice-versa. You would probably remember both week-ends well – the getaway one, as well as the “my house is piled with children” one. 🙂
In conclusion since it is WAY past my bedtime, dating, whether it is your child or your husband, is worth the effort! 🙂