Sunday, May 19, 2013

Family Date Night(s)

When you become a parent, one of the main pieces of advice that you will read (or be told) over and over is that you need to continue to date your spouse. As a gal who was blessed with 10 years of dating my spouse (pre-baby), I totally understand the importance of working to stay connected. As a parent of a toddler (who lives in a rural area and whose closest family member is almost 2 hours away) reality is that (for us, right now) this task is equivalent to trying to climb Mt. Everest.

Don't misunderstand me and think that we don't spend time together. Typically (at least once a week) we end up grabbing a RedBox and collapsing on the sofa... where one or both of us may fall asleep. Not exactly romantic. 

Alternatively, when we visit family, we always have good intentions of leaving Jack with whoever we are staying with and sneaking off for a date, but we are typically exhausted from traveling and dates rarely happen. Once we snuck out to grab a late dinner and we both struggled to stay awake while waiting for our food. A late move? Forget about it. We have managed a handful of dates in the last year and a half (including canoeing and a trip to a coffee house), but this is nowhere near the "weekly" dates we had before Jack came along.

Recently I was feeling kind of getting depressed about the fact that we can't seem to achieve this "weekly date thing." It just isn't happening. Besides, there aren't that many places locally that we would even want to go to for a date. So weekend nights can seem lame.

This passed weekend and something changed – my attitude, perhaps. 

We have been trying to go to a series of free concerts at the Lowe Mill Docks in Huntsville for the last 2 months. Something always seems to come up to prevent us from going. This past Friday, we were determined to go. We didn't care that it was forecast to rain all evening. We packed up Jack, our camp chairs, the BOB stroller and rain jackets and headed to the city.

On the way there a friend texted me to say the concert had been cancelled. Bummer. We were already on our way, so we kept driving. We ended up at Bridge Street where we tried Tommy's Pizza for the first time. We were served up a 21" New York style pizza while it poured outside. After eating, we hurried through the rain (it's an outdoor mall) to Barnes & Noble where Jack enjoyed the train table and we enjoyed sitting in one of our favorite bookstores, browsing through the latest magazines. After B&N, we headed over to Toys R Us to see if Jack would be interested in a mini powerwheels four wheeler (he was). We also ran into one of Daniel's roommates from TTU (unexpectedly). We have a baby now, they have a baby now. Life marches on. On the way home, Jack was asleep and we stopped at DQ to split a Blizzard. 

So the difference in dates, was that instead of feeling like, "woe is me, I don't have a baby sitter, I'm stuck in Hollywood," we just went to town and dragged Jack along with us. I have no idea why we have put off weekend family dates like this. We take Jack everywhere else with us, why not do something fun as a family date? So, we may not see a movie in a real live theater for another decade, but there is still fun stuff that we can do.

I think we were both feeling good about our Friday night outing (even though it rained), so when we needed to run an errand to Chattanooga on Saturday, we decided to stop at Taco Mamacitas for dinner and then run over to Coolidge Park to let Jack play.

We ended up stumbling on the Beer over Dirt fundraiser at Renaissance Park – which happened to have live music. So we missed our live music on Friday, but we still ended up catching some live music on Saturday. 

Jack had his first experience with a water fountain. He was a little intimidated by it. We enjoyed walking through the park. It rained a bit, but we still had our rain jackets from Friday and it was a great weekend.

I guess I am saying all of this because it has taken me 18+months to realize that I can have fun with my family and I don't have to feel bad for myself or my relationship with Daniel just because we can't seem to go out on a real date. Real dates will happen again, but for now I can choose to be content and know that even if Jack is along, we can have a pretty fun family date!


  1. To be honest, I kind of shake my head at those who push weekly/monthly date nights. It's not about leaving the house and spending money... It's about connecting with each other. Aaron and I very rarely go out on "dates," but we make sure we are spending meaningful time together at home after the kids are in bed. Those become home-date nights.

    1. Thanks for weighing in Wanda. I think it is a perception issue (at least for me). When I was thinking we weren't having "dates" it was because I was stuck with a mental image of what a date was before baby. We actually do date, it is just different - at home like you said. "Dates" aren't what I expected, so my perception has to change.


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