By Alicia Purdy
Do you have younger kids? Remember what it was like to have a date night? If you're one of those parents who feels like you live and breathe by the schedule of your kids, you're not alone. Parents are often so busy scheduling the lives of their kids, they forget to take time out for themselves. That can be rough on a marriage. Spending time alone together is important because it allows you to reconnect with your spouse as an individual, rather than as the other parent. This can remind you why you fell in love in the first place.
For many parents, "date night" may seem like a large-scale and out-of-budget event. Toss in the cost of a baby sitter, and it may seem like a better option to just stay at home. However, date nights don't have to be expensive or time-consuming. Date night ideas for busy parents are easier than ever to come up with if you're willing to get creative.
Busy parents usually have a hard time finding time alone, but you got married because you enjoyed being with your spouse - it's time to rekindle that rapport. If you've got a sitter handy, get out of the house and find fun things to do together.
Lunch and a Movie - If both you and your spouse work, it's hard to find time to do things together when coming home means hitting the ground running with the kids. Schedule a lunch date together. Take a long lunch one day and see a movie together. Or, you might grab some fast food and spend some time catching up. You can window shop near your office or walk around your nearest museum or art gallery.
Grab Moments Together - If you and your spouse are like two ships in the night, grab 15 solitary minutes and sip some coffee or have a drink together before going your separate ways. It may feel pointless to squeeze in just a tiny amount of time, but if that's all you have, give those moments to your spouse and enjoy what time you have.
Kid-Friendly Dates - Plenty of other parents find themselves in the same position as you--living busy lives and trying to make time for each other. The new norm? Taking kids on dates with you. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, you can take your kids to places where they'll be kept busy and you'll get some precious together time with your partner as well. Try a family pottery glass, go bowling or roller skating or take the kids to a trampoline park and let them loose while you hang out with your spouse.
Getting out of the house for a date isn't always easy or practical for busy parents. If that's you, date night doesn't have to be eliminated. Spending time alone with your spouse is the ultimate goal and if you find yourself stuck at home, try some of these at-home date night ideas:
Dinner and a Movie - Once the kids have had their dinner and baths and have been tucked into bed, that's when you can find special time together. Buy something special for lat-night dinner just for the two of you--something that might normally be a splurge. Order dessert, too. Rent a movie you've both been wanting to see. Turn the lights off and light a few candles. When you eat, sit somewhere other than the table you normally share with the kids, even if you sit on the floor.
Sweat it Out - Grab your spouse and pop in an easy yoga DVD. You don't have to be a gym rat to be able to enjoy the simple stretches and poses that yoga affords. Yoga is challenging, yet fun and most people can do many of the home DVD versions, no matter their fitness level. Chances are, before you finish the program, you'll both be laughing with and at each other.
Backyard Picnic - Prepare a gourmet picnic meal, with the works - get a blanket, dessert and a bottle of wine. Sit outside in your yard and enjoy the fresh air. Talk with your spouse and enjoy some alone time where it's just the two of you. Grab a camera and take pictures of the other person and then together.
No matter how you choose to spend your time together, the point is to make an effort to spend time together. Relationships take work and even when busy parents have full schedules, it's important to make time to reconnect. Any healthy relationship thrives on time spent in meaningful contact. Dates don't have to be mega-events. Even the littlest things can pave the way to falling in love all over again.