There are a few people in this world who have money to burn.
I am not one of them.
BUT, I love being married. I am the wife of an amazing man, and I love spending time with him one-on-one. Further, if I want to continue to love being married, I think it is imperative that I carve out time to spend with him alone. Having fun. Being US. The we-used-to-date us. The we-used-to-be-young us. The we-have-fun-together us.
Because there will come a day when we will become the we-don't-have-kids-at-home-anymore us. And if we haven't taken time to spend time staying connected, we will suddenly find ourselves disjointed when the glue of the children disappears.
SO... back to those dates. I think they matter. Immensely. But... back to that money. I don't have a lot of it.
If you're with me on all the above, I'm here to offer a few date ideas that don't cost a ton and that don't require you to mortgage the house. It doesn't have to cost a lot to be big fun!
1. Fast(ish) Food. Dates, in my view, are about the company and not the event itself. A date is designed to give a couple time to connect, communicate, and have fun together. It can be expensive, elaborate, extravagant even. Or it can be simple and cheap. We usually go with the latter. So by "Fast(ish) Food" I mean a step up from McDonald's but not quite a sit-down, full-service restaurant either. Where we live, that means Cane's is our go-to date spot. It's a place that serves fried chicken fingers and fries. We get one "Caniac" -- 6 chicken strips, fries, dipping sauce (which is like nectar from Heaven), and we substitute an extra piece of bread for the coleslaw. We split it, and with the military discount, we spend $11.25 each week on our date. After we eat, we take a long, unhurried stroll through the strip mall where Cane's is located, and we often end up landing at the bookstore where we sit together and read books. The entire time, we are talking, talking, talking. Catching up on life, discussing parenting stuff, dreaming about the future, asking each other questions, whatever. But we're alone and it is glorious. We almost never miss our Thursday evening dates. The kids already know that Thursday is leftover night and we won't be home for at least 4 hours of the evening. It's my favorite day of the week because I have uninterrupted time with my favorite person on planet earth.
2. Eating In. When you have little humans running amuck at your house, it is hard to get a date in because of all the work and expense that comes with finding childcare! So my solution for those years is fairly simple. The Shorties usually have pretty lame palates and often have not yet developed a taste for truly good food. So why waste it on them? I have been known to pick up crab legs or the stuff for fondue or some other fun fare -- and then I serve chicken nuggets or hot dogs or pizza for dinner to everyone except me and my guy. Then once they are in bed, we eat our yummier meal alone, in the peace and quiet of our dining room, with a glass of wine. Much cheaper and easier than going out, but the end goal is still the same: conversation and time together alone. (Want to eliminate all the work? Have your honey pick up take-out on his way home and you avoid the cooking AND the dishes!)
3. Take a walk. My husband and I love to just wander together. We walk in the evenings in our neighborhood. We walk around parks or walking trails. We wander through strip malls and window shop. It's a great way to get some fresh air, it's incredibly conducive to conversation, and it's entirely free. (Though there's nothing that says you shouldn't stop for an ice cream cone or something to hold and sip while you walk. I'm just sayin'.)
4. Redbox. We don't have cable, so we aren't really into TV shows. So for us, a non-animated, non-superhero movie is a fun treat. Redbox is super cheap, convenient since you can find them anywhere, and they are the perfect way to have a little time together when the kids go to bed. Get some wine or a beer or a soda, pop some popcorn (maybe get some snazzy toppings?) and you're all set.
5. Breakfast. I adore breakfast foods. Like seriously ADORE them. Put hollandaise sauce on anything and you win me over for life. But breakfast is often a pretty cheap meal to eat out. AND if you have slightly older kids that can be left at home for a brief bit of time, it's perfect because you already get up before them anyway. So you can go out for breakfast and have a few hours together on a breakfast date before they are even awake!
That's only five ideas -- I have more! But I'll leave it at that for now with the encouragement that you actually decide to DO one of the above dates THIS WEEK!
Because I am a huge huge HUGE believer in the necessity of dates. Weekly dates. It is super rare that we skip one because it almost sends me into actual depression to miss out on time alone with my guy.
So make it a priority this week, and put a plan in place. Something above in that list should work for everyone!