The art of dating...

(Post inspired by Jana - thanks for the topic!)

If you've ever listened to much of any marriage advice than you have heard the term date night at least a dozen times. Date night, date night, date night - we all know we need to do it… here are a few tips on how to do it well.

How to do it:
*The babysitter. I think this is the bigger hurdle I hear from my peers on making date night happen. Babysitters can be expensive, aren't easy to find good ones, and causes that teenager self-conscience angst of what if they don't like my kids and tell me no. We finagle babysitters a few different ways. Easiest is grandma… she knows my kids, my kids love her, she's free, and there is usually after-date brownies involved - everybody wins! But no one wants to abuse that set up so we try to keep Grandma to once a month. Moderate is friend swaps... this requires finding the right friend which is not always easy but start asking around and hopefully something will come about. I love having other kids over so doing that in exchange for my own night out is always worth it in my book. Hardest is the tradition teenager... luckily I am Mormon and a huge perk of being Mormon is you have easy access to an entire database of 12-17 year old girls in your ward's phone numbers. 12 year olds are the best IMO because they usually know how to play just as hard as my kids... but I also dream of finding the perfect older girl who can drive herself (hasn't happened yet). And just so you know we have 5 kids… if it is under 2 hours, I pay $15… after that it goes up by $5 for each additional hour. Rarely do we use a non-family babysitter for more than 3 hours. If paying them causes you anxiety, just ask ahead of time (i.e. I need a sitter for 2 hours and am willing to pay you $15 - would you like the job?). Blake and I are constantly reminding each other (because we are on the cheaper end of the babysitting-payment spectrum because we have a billion kids) that when you were 13 wasn't getting 20 bucks like almost becoming a millionaire. Also, don't let this be a one person job, aka the wife's, take monthly or weekly turns on who has to arrange the babysitter.

When to do it:
I like Friday nights for our traditional date nights. By Friday, I am more than ready to abandon my kids for a few hours and it is usually movie night anyways so it makes the babysitters job a little WAY easier. We also go out lots for late night shakes or late night movies (although we are getting too old for this) when we have family staying with us and the kids are already in bed. We meet up for lunch during the school year when I only have one or two kids with me and we dream of Paisley getting old enough that on Saturday mornings we can sneak away for a run in the foothills and some donuts after. Honestly, just like reading your scriptures or sex, when you do it is not important just that you do it. (Blake is going to hate that I wrote that).

Where to do it:
I'm easy to please… Food is my love language so we eat out for most dates. Blake's work "pays" him to workout in the form of giftcards so we use those a lot and we always have a coupon to pair with it. Our favorite coupon-friendly restaurant clubs are Texas Roadhouse, Red Robin, The Habit, Café Rio, Smashburger, Noodles and Co, and Coldstone... all of these give great deals on a fairly regular basis. We usually have leftover time and go on a walk, get groceries, if Blake has a say go running shoe shopping or if I have a say go to the thrift store. Occasionally, instead of food we will hit a movie - you know if there is Matt Damon or Hugh Jackman involved. And we try to go to the temple but like movies that makes for a long-ish date which isn't always in the cards. Awhile back, we swapped kids with a friend down the road and lots of dates were just at home... those can be nice too.

What to do on it:
Hold hands, talk, kiss, open doors for each other, and try to relax. If you are in a dry spell of having anything to talk about print out this list and use it. (Once you've done it with your spouse - try them with your kids). The one thing I wish I was better at on our dates is taking pictures of us... what we are doing, where we are at, and who we are with. Going on double dates is still super fun even after you're married - just don't do it every time.

Why to do it:
Yesterday, I emailed Blake "6:00 - The Village - Be there." We went to Wonder Women. We really did not have time for it - Blake is swamped at work and is trying to pull together a 5 day activity for the Young Men in the ward next week. I had laundry, dishes, and a massive tree laying across our entire back lawn that all needed tending to. There were 20 different things we could have done last night that might have fallen under the label "More productive than watching a scantily-clad women knocking bullets away with her magic bracelets." But it felt so good - to get away from the house and the kids and to escape with the man I love. To hold hands and whisper nonsense during the previews and to contemplate tacking on another $5 to the sitter's fee so we could go grab ice cream afterwards (we did skip using our Coldstone BOGO this time). Dates remind me that we like each other - that there was once a time that no matter what we were doing we did not care as long as we were doing it together. Dates remind me of how we met and how we fell in love and that if I am taken out of the daily messiness of life - all those same feelings can come pouring back. Date nights are like couples therapy for me... but better because they usually involve ice cream.

Blake and I on the greenbelt after eating sandwiches - one of my favorite date activities that we can't do this year because of all the flooding. This was when Luna was 1 month old - leaving newborns used to be really hard on me but now I know the younger my kiddos are the more important it is for me to get away for a bit. We also leave the older kids and take the baby with us on dates for that first year because 1 kid... 1 kid is SO easy... now... it used to not be.


Jana Weaver said...

Thanks for the great post!

Chadwick and Julie said...

It's so easy to skip this one activity...for a million reasons. Some of my favorite dates have been watching a movie on the couch with a container of Ben & Jerry's. You're right - it doesn't really matter what you do as long as it gets done at some point.

connie said...

Yes if you keep dating you will find yourself happily married 48 years and x still counting. I know because we are.

AndersonGR8 said...

Keep that tradition alive! Best thing possible for a relationship.

Micah Taylor said...

I love it, thanks for sharing!