Trying to write this blog post has been very much like my approach to date nights now that we have a kid: I’ve just put it off until I have to face it.
After my son was born, my husband and I didn’t go on a date night until my son was a little over 13 months old. We don’t have close family nearby, so the opportunity rarely arises. But finally, when my son wasn’t so needy and my dad was in-town, we took the opportunity to go on a day date while my son napped and my dad could be there with him when he woke-up. Easy.
It was one of our typical pre-kiddo movie outings — watching a movie as God intended: loud and accompanied by over-priced snacks and the distraction of people coming in late. It was actually nice to do again, but I could never fully relax and was anxious to get home again.
Social media evidence (We saw “The Night Before” starring Seth Rogan and JoGoLev):
This date was followed by three more outings by the end of the year. These outings are what I would call “mandatory fun” because they were gatherings or celebrations related to my husband’s work. Those were more enjoyable to me. It satisfied my extroverted soul with human interaction and alcoholic beverages. At the close of the year, I felt that those last “dates” had especially given me my fill for at least another year.
I’m sure you’ve read your share of think pieces about date nights. Most declare that life with kids also comes with the inherent need to have regular date nights for the health of your marriage and, in-turn, your family. This just doesn’t make sense to me for several reasons, but mainly I just don’t care enough to make date night a big thing for us. Being squarely in the camp of “Meh, I can take it or leave it,” I wondered how other moms ACTUALLY feel about date night, so I put together yet another Mom Focus Group (MoFoGro) to find out just how alone I might be in feeling this way.
We had 37 lovely moms answer our survey. Here’s what we found:
Date Night BEFORE vs. AFTER kids
I also asked for the reason that MOST prevents them from going out on a date night. The options included: Financial Concerns, Can’t find a Babysitter, Too Tired, No Time/Scheduling, Prefer to stay-in, or Other.
My choice would be “Prefer to Stay-in” because it is so much easier to make the comfortable decision to put our feet up and pick a Netflix movie together while eating a $2 bag of white cheddar popcorn. The majority of our MoFoGro chose to elaborate in “Other” citing a combination of all of the options that basically equated to having a hard time leaving their kids in the house with someone else.
A small sample of responses:
“Not feeling comfortable leaving my kids with a sitter/breastfeeding baby/money”
“Not ready to leave my 2 year old with anyone”
“All of the above? Date nights are a lot of work!”
I also had our moms rank the importance of date night on a scale of 1 to 10:
I’d like to give a virtual high five to the only mom who selected “Couldn’t care less about date night!” I don’t think that’s anything to be afraid of saying. The rest of the responses were pretty evenly distributed between 5 and 10.
Lastly, I left some room for any additional comments:
“I’d like to go on a date with Claire Hardee”
If this response was from Mallory, I’d like to chastise her for skewing my data. If not, I welcome you with open arms to our future compound of sister wives!
“I would love to have a date night once my little one is able to communicate better. I want him to be able to tell me if something happened.”
This is something I hadn’t actually considered. Just wanted to share it as food for thought.
“We attempt to have a scheduled date night once a month but when finances get tight that’s usually the first thing to cut out. We also don’t want to use our friends too often to watch our kids even if it is swap sitting for paying them. We don’t want our friendship to turn into a kid watching relationship however, our friends are the ones we trust most with our kids and who our kids feel most comfortable with.”
If I were building a case against date night (which I’m not trying to do), I would include this in my argument. It’s hard to not feel like your burdening someone even when they graciously offer to watch your kids while you go out.
“My husband and I really like to do things with our kids and generally don’t mind if they come with us because it is easier and allows us to be a bit more spontaneous but we realize that we still need one on one time and try to make the most of the couple of hours we get post bedtime.”
It’s like I polled a group of mind readers! My husband and I have really reorganized our time and energy to making sure we do a fun family thing once a week. It’s not something we ever intended as replacing our date night. More of a natural evolution.
“I feel like it’s hard to compare how I dated my husband more before kids. We didn’t go on many ‘labeled dates’ with the exception of special occasions. It was just the two of us doing most things (movie, dinner, rock climbing, etc) so everything we did together would be considered a date now! Even everyday things!”
Well said! I’m all for looking at the other ways we experience quality time with our partners that don’t need a label. (See Mallory’s post last week for her unique approach to “date night.”) Once I start adding up the things to try make a typical “date night” happen for us, it really becomes a chore. And so, a la Regina George, I’ve stopped trying to make it happen.
I am very happy that I had a chance to see some other moms’ thoughts on this. If you were feeling any date night pressures as a new mom, hopefully they’ve been alleviated a bit. You have more company on this than you think.
Have any further thoughts to share on “date night?” Comment below!