My husband and I are coming up on ten years together. So far we’ve got four kids seven and under, homeschooling, two businesses to run, a household to manage, podcasts to record, books to write…the list goes on. But don’t we all have “lists that go on and on”? That seems to simply be a fact of modern life (although, I’ll talk another time on how to grow in intentional living). That doesn’t mean we can’t make time to date our spouses. In fact, the longer the list, I’d argue the more necessary it is that we DO date our spouses.
Since in-laws can’t always watch our children or we don’t want to spend a lot of money on babysitting and dinners out, my husband and I started weekly at-home date nights. Due to our schedules, we’ve been able to keep it consistent each week, and over time, the children have gotten used to the shortened bedtime routine on those nights.
I want to share with you, step-by-step, how you can date your husband, at home, without a babysitter, and a nearly $0 budget! High five, mama!
Step One: Pick a Night that You Can Consistently Make Work
For us, it’s Wednesdays. Unless there’s some weird scheduling thing, we don’t schedule anything but date night on Wednesdays. No activities. No meetings. No hang outs with other friends. No phone calls.
Of course, if a spouse is deployed, on a business trip, etc. you might not be able to do this perfectly each week. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try! Don’t let perfection become the enemy of the good.
Making time for your spouse, one-on-one = Good
Not bothering because you have varying schedules = Bad
Step Two: Plan and Prep Your Meal Ahead of Time and Shut Down the House Early
I save more expensive cuts of meat and not-so-kid-friendly dishes for these nights, opting for steak over ground beef or something more complicated like risotto versus steamed rice. It makes it feel special, even if we’re just at home.
I also do as much prep work as I can either when I’m making lunch or the kids’ dinner. So the kale and onions get chopped, meat gets marinated…this way, even if the bedtime routine takes longer than I’d like, I’m more focused on chatting with my husband over a glass of wine as our meal cooks rather than furiously chopping, stirring, and cleaning.
Speaking of cleaning, I close up the house early. Before the kids are in bed, I make sure the dishes are pretty much done, the toys picked up…no exceptions. When I come downstairs after everyone is bed, I want to feel as easy as if I’m walking out the door for date night.
Step Three: Feed the Kids Earlier and Send Them Hippity Hop to Bed
The goal isn’t to rush through the nighttime routine, just shorten it. I don’t want the kids to feel like I want to get rid of them, but I do let them know that it’s a date night, it’s important for moms and dads to spend time alone together, and this is why the routine is different. After only a couple of weeks, they expected the different routine and didn’t even question it.
Because we eat dinner as a family every other night of the week, I’m perfectly happy letting the kids eat something easy and a little bit treat-sy on date nights. Think: Mac ‘n’ cheese, leftover pizza that’s in the freezer, breakfast. Usually, I’ll read to them while they eat so that part of the bedtime routine is smooshed into dinner. Also, no showers or baths this night.
Step Four: Plan Your Activities in Advance
I’m not here to tell you that you shouldn’t watch tv on a date night, but don’t just flick through the channels. Decide on a movie or a show earlier in the week. Agree on a game to play. Think ahead so that when the time comes for date night, you’re not wasting time on decisions. Get to the fun faster!
Step Five: Treat your spouse like your great love.
Make time for physical connections. Don’t push the other off or away, especially if you know you’ll soon be too tired to keep your eyes open. Exercise that marital contract and fulfill that covenant. Enjoy each other. Put the phones away. Make conversation. Don’t put on your pjs straight away. It might not be a perfect date night every week, but again, try. Make it special and focus on your spouse as much as you’d like your spouse to focus on you.
Do you do at home date nights? What are you favorite things to do? What would you add to the list? Drop a comment below!
Episodes of The Catholic Mama Podcast You Might Enjoy
Ep 160: Strengthening Your Marital Sexuality
Ep 106: The Sacrament of Marriage in a Modern World with Perry Cahall
Ep 167: The Busy Parent’s Guide to a Life of Prayer
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