I believe date nights are important because they build connection and trust. They create a time to talk about the things that get pushed behind the daily chatter of work and children and schedule. They help you have time to relax and have fun together as a couple. Recently we’ve started taking an hour every Sunday for some couple time. The little ones nap and Zachary, who is too old for naps, has an hour of quiet time in his room. He may draw, read, or play something quietly; but he may not come downstairs. We love it.
Marriage is fun. Marriage is joy. Marriage is sacrifice. Through it all I want to always keep celebrating my husband. Dates are one of the ways to do this. When finances or lack of childcare or distance make it difficult to go out date nights can happen at home.
If you’re like me, Valentine’s Day is one of those times you really, really want a date with your husband. Even if you have children Valentine’s Day can be your day as a couple. It’s a day for fun and sweetness, for romance and passion. In a perfect world we could all go out for a date Valentine’s night. In reality it is one of the hardest days of the year to find babysitting. Unlike your anniversary, almost every other couple you know is carving out some time for each other, too!
Thus I propose: the stay-at-home date. Yes, of course having little children makes these nights a challenge; but before you think a date impossible, throw a pretty party for your family and caIl it a night, here are a few suggestions to make romance at home attainable:
1. Plan ahead Dream up your plan–an all out candlelit dinner with steak or bacon wrapped chicken? A fun dessert in bed? A Bahamas experience in your bedroom? Moving your mattress into the living room? Write up a list for everything you’ll need to do to make it happen–the foods you need to make, any supplies you might need to buy, cleaning, what you will wear, the music. Choose the room for the big event. Depending on the size of your house and the proximity of your children’s rooms, you might have a few rooms to yourself or you might choose the living room or your bedroom. The farther from their room the better, but that goes without saying.
2. Prepare the day before Most cleaning or cooking or DIY decor, or love note-writing can be done ahead of time. Collect candles, blankets, pillows, and chocolates in a hiding spot to be whipped into place just after the kids are tucked into bed. Children are notorious for creating urgent situations; it’s better not to leave most of the work for the day of the date night.
3. Include your children in the preparations Take a walk and cut some green branches from shrubs or collect twigs and other bits of nature to use for decor. If you can’t get all the prep done during naptime, bake the cheesecake together. You can tell them you’re making something VERY SPECIAL for Daddy and the next day they can may some, too.
4. Get rid of romance busters. The hard part of staying home is that all your responsibilities are still .right.in.front.of.you. Do whatever you need to do to make your home seem like a retreat. I normally have only enough energy to really tackle one room, so that’s what I do. That means cleaning out clutter, putting the toy basket out of sight, temporarily covering windows that don’t have blinds, getting rid of stinky attitudes, silencing the phones.
5. Build Anticipation. Whisper an invitation to your husband as he heads out for work. Send him flirty texts. Give him a glimpse of what is to come.
6. Re-work the children’s schedule. Okay, so here’s the most tricky part of all–ensuring that the children are in bed. Here’s one plan: baby–take a walk at his morning naptime to hold him off to one early-afternoon nap instead of the normal two naps. Pre-schooler/first grader–after a light lunch have them take a one hour quiet playtime in their room. No naps will be all good news to them!
Play tag or kickball outside in the afternoon. Goal: exhaustion. Serve them a simple but filling meal at 5:00. Quickly move along to baths and stories. By 7:00 they should easily be tucked into bed with some background music playing. The little crowd will be ready to sleep; an older child could take a flashlight and book to bed as well as a timer to beep at lights-out time. Be SURE they went potty, and had a drink. This is when an established, good bedtime routine is a lifesaver because you can trust your children to stay in bed.
7. Refresh Yourself. While the children are having their quiet time, spend some quiet time with God. Take a nap if you can. Even if it’s only for fifteen minutes a rest will give you a kick of energy for the evening. Shower or soak in a bath. Pamper your body and get your glow on. Choose what you’ll wear after the children are in bed. Smile about how your husband is going to love you in that!
8. Be flexible Inevitably, something will happen to complicate your plans. The phone has to stay turned on because your husband is on-call. The baby wakes up at 9:00 for no reason at all and won’t settle down. Your neighbor knocks on the door and won’t stop knocking. Sometimes you can scramble to take care of the need, laugh, and get back in the groove. Other times you dip your strawberries into the chocolate fondue with a baby on your hip or, if the situation calls for it, wait for another night to try again. Sometimes there is laughter. Sometimes tears. Remember the goal of the evening is to love each other even if it takes more of a sacrificial bent than blissful.
9. Make it happen! A mom has 20 reasons why this is not easy to pull off, no kidding! It doesn’t have to be tomorrow night on Valentine’s Day. It doesn’t have to be a whole big production. However, even with little children in the house, it is possible to create space to enjoy one another. Instead of saying, “I can’t because…,” ask, “How could I work around…?”
10. Enjoy with abandon Forget about the rest of the world, that annoying spider web in the corner, and the children who are just fine. For several hours it’s all about the best husband ever and one woman who loves him fiercely.