My husband and I have been together since we were teenagers. During our "courting years," our Friday nights consisted of going out to dinner and a movie. Our Friday date night was our weekly ritual, and I looked forward to it every time.
Flash forward 15-plus years, two kids, a home, and a D.C. commute, our Friday date nights have been altered radically. After getting children to bed, we crash on the couch, or more likely the bed, and look forward to three hours of "Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives." While I'm not knocking "Triple D" or our many trips to "flavor town," and my hubby's Guy Fieri impression is getting really good, I miss the days of actual dates.
I know it will likely cost us the same amount of money to pay our babysitter as does the dinner or movie we go to on our date. However, I also have realized that the value of going on a date is better than the price tag. Putting some quality time into our relationship, spending uninterrupted time talking, and getting out of my mommy role for a few hours (even if we talk about the kids the whole time) is invaluable!
So for our recent anniversary, I gave my hubby a gift, or rather, gave myself a gift or "Date Nights in a Jar" - a creative find on Pinterest, where the dates are planned out, and we only need to pull a date from said jar and decide if we need a sitter for the night. My little Pinterest project had me divide the dates into three categories: $$$ + Planning, $ Date on the fly, and Date @ Home.
In the process of creating our dating catalog, I sought out the dating wisdom of fellow wives in the community to collect a variety of date options. I present to you...32 Dates With Your Husband!
Date on the Fly, $- This kind of date requires a babysitter for a night out, but doesn't require much planning ahead, and won't break the bank.
- Dinner & a movie (his choice)
- Dinner & a movie (her choice) Putting the decision-making on one person avoids pre-date conflict and ensures there's a chick flick thrown into the mix on occasion!
- Mexican dinner night
- Dessert only date (How fun will this be when the Cheesecake Factory opens at Potomac Mills?!)
- Sharp Shooter's gun range in Lorton- Angela Grevert and her husband work from home and raise two toddler boys together. She shared that going to the gun range and out for lunch or dinner is a fantastic way to seriously blow off some steam!
- Sushi and play pool (This is a dating favorite of my friend, Jenn Durham and her hubby Brian, that I need to add into my repertoire.)
- Laser Tag (Have you ever said, "I could just kill my husband"? Hello!)
- Coffee date and trip to 2nd & Charles bookstore ('cause browsing without kids is soo much nicer)
- Window shopping
- Top Golf (It's part bar/part golf game, and really fun!)
- Mini golf and dessert
- Christmas shopping: Several of my friends have suggested this is a great date option. However, know your audience! Joint Xmas shopping sent us grumbling, "Bah Humbug!" last holiday season- For us, it was NOT a successful date, but for you, it might be.
- Visit "Flavor Town USA": Christine Wilder and husband are packing in some quality dates prior to Baby Two's arrival. She suggested visiting "Flavor Town USA"- the actual diner, drive-ins, and dives featured on our favorite Friday night programming.
$$$ + Planning- These are the getaways that take extra planning and extra money, but are so worth it every once in a while.
15. Hotel stay for a night (sleeping in and leisurely starting your morning- it'a a little bit of heaven) Try Hotel Monaco in Alexandria for some great R&R.
16. Bed & Breakfast: Lake Ridge resident Brittany Dunlap says The Inn at Little Washington is great for a fancy dinner or weekend away.
17. Date in D.C.: Not necessarily an overnight, but planning to go to an event in D.C. and have dinner in the city can take some logistics
18. Dinner at a fancy restaurant: Our go-to is Bistro L'Hermitage in Occoquan, which is really as fancy as you want it to be, but the food and service is de-vine! Friend and Woodbridge foodie, Katie Wheeler and husband Tom recommend dining at Trummers on Main in Clifton, Va. "Taking the leap of faith and doing a chef's table is an incredible experience there, and really anywhere," said Katie. "It gives you a conversation topic that is beyond kids, there is built in anticipation and excitement and even if you don't like a dish you have tried something most likely you would never have ordered."
19. Away football game: A trip to see our JMU Dukes always is a great time, and we enjoy traveling back down memory lane.
20. Concert and dinner: I always have my eye on upcoming events at The Birchmere in Alexandria because it's such a great place for a small venue concert and you can sit, eat, drink and relax!
Date @ Home- Let's face it, a date out every week is not always in the cards. Whether you're too run down from the week, or just trying to save a few bones, here are some date options, for after the kids go to bed.
21. Watch your favorite old movie. We have "The American President" on standby!
22. Order Chinese food and play a board game
23. Play "Scene It" Trivia game: These games are fun because they show clips, quotes, and memorabilia from your favorite show. We own "Friends" and "Seinfeld" and embarrassingly, "Twilight," but the hubby won't play that one with me.
24. Fondue and an old movie: Thank heavens for Netflix!
25. Make homemade pizza
26. Chick flick and popcorn
27. Have a "Chopped" challenge. You know, three random ingredients, and an hour to make an amazing dish...or catastrophe.
28. TV show marathon: we have all these tv shows on DVD, or you can also find them on Netflix. I like watching four shows or more at a time!
29. Football game and loaded nachos
30. Picnic date: "It's great for when you don't have a sitter," says local mom, Kati Karamanis. "Blanket on the floor (or deck, if it is nice out), candles lit, cheese/bread or dessert, wine, music, and we have even dressed nicely as if we were going out."
31. Make dessert together
32. Wii Challenge: Beating each other at Mario Kart or a friendly Just Dance competition let's us unwind and de-stress while having tons of fun!
Go out (or stay in) and enjoy new shared experiences with your partner to reconnect with him on a weekly basis, rather than relying on that old connection that can be clouded by the strain of working and parenthood. You love your partner for a million reasons under the sun, but it's fun to remind each other why you like each other. That's what date nights are for--they make you fall for each other over and over again!