Having kids changes your life a lot– a WHOLE lot. (Okay, everybody knows that. But it’s still insanely true.) Some of those changes are incredible blessings! Others… well, nothing worthwhile is ever easy. For us, one of the biggest and most challenging adjustments we had to make was the amount of time (and freedom) my husband I had to invest in each other. We learned the hard way that, even in the midst of child-induced exhaustion, our relationship is still just as important and we still need to make time together for fun, growth, and romance.
Easier said than done, right?
With the added financial responsibility and the lack of energy related to having children, we found that a regular date night out just wasn’t reasonable anymore. By the time you pay for a non-fast-food dinner, a babysitter, and maybe some other activity like a movie or a sports game, you’re looking at $50-100 easily–and sometimes much, much more. Hence, the implementation of the “date night in” began instead–plopping down in front of a movie with some popcorn or wine together, which usually ended in one or both of us falling asleep on the couch. Not the most exciting of evenings, and it usually left us both feeling like old farts in our early 20’s. Not ideal.
However, we’ve since learned a thing or two about making a night in together refreshing and fun! Spending meaningful time at home together isn’t some impossible covert mission. With a little forethought and creativity, you can create a special evening at home too! Here are some ideas to get you started on “Operation: Date Night In.”
- Enforce a “No Phones” Rule. Don’t you just hate it when you’re trying to talk to someone and they keep checking their dang phone?? Make a pact at the beginning of the evening to give each other your undivided attention, unhindered by the distraction of constant connection. Put your phones in “lock up” together, on silent, face-down, and Don’t. Touch. Them. Emails, texts, and Facebook can wait until the morning. (The only exception to the rule is to snap a quick photo of your quirky fun. But as soon as the shutter clicks, put it back down! Post it to social media later.)
- Re-Vamp Movie Night. Don’t knock an old classic! If just watching a movie together is losing its charm, why not try to mix things up a bit to keep things interesting? Take turns picking a movie you love that your partner hasn’t seen: no veto powers! Or, pick a favorite and make a movie-themed meal to share! (Do you know how many Harry Potter-themed recipes are floating around online? There’s also a whole Harry Potter Cookbook you can purchase. How fun is that?!) You could also pick a new show on Netflix to watch together and make a pact to not watch it without the other.
- Living Room Picnic. Date nights don’t always have to be black-tie affairs. Spread a blanket out on the living room floor and pack a basket with picnic-friendly snacks. If you want to make it feel more formal, pick up some fancy cheese and pair it with crackers and a new wine to share. Or, take a trip back to your childhood and buy Lunchables to enjoy! (Bonus points for candlelight and Lunchables, in my book.) You can dress up formally for fun, munch in your pj’s, or skip the dress code altogether, if you catch my drift…
- Buy a book to learn the art of massage. What’s better than a relaxing and sensual massage from your partner? Not much, as long as they know what they’re doing! Pick up some lotion and a book on massage techniques, and take turns trying out your skills on each other. Add some warmed-up towels, romantic music and candlelight for some ambiance.
- Play and epic game of Truth or Dare. This one’s pretty self-explanatory. Here’s a fun article with Great Questions and Even Better Dares, like “What is the most embarrassing thing your parents have ever caught you doing?” or “Dance with no music for one minute.” They’ve got some great ideas there, folks.
- Cook a crazy new recipe together. If you like to cook, pick out a new recipe from a cookbook or Pinterest to try– the more unusual the better! Research a new type of ethnic food, try out a fancy dessert, or pick out an uncommon ingredient from the grocery store and learn how to cook it. It’s okay if you don’t like the result– the experience of cooking together is fun enough! But who knows– maybe you’ll find your new favorite dinner! (Bonus points if you take turns feeding each other!)
- Go on a “first date.” People tend to think of first dates as an awkward, unpleasant experience, but there’s something exciting in the unknown, new territory of the first time you’re with someone. Reenact your first date together (or make up a “meet-cute” scenario): get all dressed up, ask “get to know you” questions, go out of your way to impress each other. Buy in to the thrill of wooing your love all over again!
- Make up a cocktail together. Try new combinations of flavors until you find one you both like. Name it after each other (a Peter Colada, perhaps, or a Sammi Sunrise). Or, download a free app with drink recipes and pick out a few crazy-sounding ones to try together! (James and I tried something called a Fairy Fart last time we were out. It tastes about as bad as you’re imagining…But it was fun!)
- Play a board game together. A little friendly competition is good for every relationship (emphasis on the friendly…). Pick out a favorite two-player game and get into it! Add some house rules to mix things up if you want: find the craziest positions in Twister on purpose, bet “coupons” for chores or favors in poker, or add a truth-or-dare challenge after every lost piece in checkers. Get creative!
- Awaken your “inner child.” Host a dance-off to your favorite songs, have a pillow fight, build a blanket fort, or make up superhero personas for each other. Talk about what you wanted to be when you were kids. Watch one of your favorite childhood movies. Set up an ice cream sundae bar. Make root beer floats (or make one with your choice of an adult beverage). Tell funny stories about things you did as kids. Blow bubbles in your chocolate milk! You get the idea.
- Read a book together. If you’re both bookworms, pick out an exciting book and take turns reading aloud. Cozy up together on the couch and get lost in a great story together while also practicing listening skills. (You’re also allowed to lovingly jab a nodder.)
Hopefully some of these ideas have sparked your creativity and inspired you to create your own meaningful date-night-in! Don’t be limited by this list either– you can come up with your own personal ideas to spend quality time together at home that are specific to you as a couple. It doesn’t have to feel like the plot of a Mission: Impossible movie. With a little creativity, and of course your love, “Operation: Date Night In” can be a fun, fresh, perfect opportunity to spend time together!
What about you? What are some fun ways you and your love spend time together at home? Leave your ideas in a comment below!
Katie Davis is a wife and mother of two whirlwind little boys (and a spoiled cat). She runs the blog Delightfully Frazzled, where she shares her adventures in the joyous chaos that is young motherhood. When she’s not chasing her toddler around or blogging, she enjoys theater, anime, beading, people-watching, and trying her luck at Pinterest DIY’s.
Want to know more about Katie Davis? Check out her links below!