This didn't start out as a New Year's Resolution. Birch and I decided we'd had enough excuses and we were going to force ourselves to go out and enjoy ourselves without the kids. It was really frustrating to realize that we'd gone an entire year without a single kidless date and then truly disheartening when we realized there was no good reason.
I could go into the saga that is Frida's first year (in fact, I wrote it all down but it exhausted me just thinking about it) but I'd rather save those nitty little details as ammunition when she's sixteen and complaining that I won't let her go out until she finishes her homework. Sufficed to say that she was difficult and demanding. After Keats' super mellow babyhood we were not prepared for the infant that was Frida. Holy moly (as we've taught Keats to say in lieu of certain other phrases he's picked up from these two irresponsible people who claim they're his parents)! For Frida, life is either blissful or excruciatingly awful. There is no uncomfortable and there are no minor inconveniences. Basically, we were afraid and riddled with guilt. Not for Frida, for the poor sucker we got to babysit for us. The last couple of months have seen a change in her, though, and with the realization that Birch and my relationship needs a serious overhaul of awesomeness, we promised each other (while I cried over the phone to him before he came home from work) that we would go on a date. I utilized the glory that is Facebook and within about two minutes, maybe less, my sister-in-law was slated to come over that Saturday evening. I'm telling you, if I could have jumped through the computer screen into her arms, I might have done something drastically inappropriate. She was a life-saver.
That Saturday, Birch took the kids out so I could get ready. I did everything I could think to do to myself and I was shaking the entire time. I was nervous! I was actually nervous to go on a date with my husband. I was tingling with anticipation. I even shampooed my hair twice by accident and nearly the shaved the same leg twice, too.
In the end, the date was calm and relaxed. We didn't really know what to do with ourselves, actually. We went with the old standby of sunset and sushi. I mean, you just can't go wrong. We came home relaxed. Relieved. Refreshed. All the moments that had been so difficult in the last year had just melted away in those few hours. We could just enjoy each other.
We've had a couple of dates since then, but they felt random and unplanned (and not in a good way). Then we met our new neighbors. They have two children right around our kids' ages. They invited us to dinner at their home and as the kids played amazingly well together, the adults drank a little too much wine. Match made in heaven. So, we made a plan. We'd switch off date nights and babysit for each other, that way we'd get at least one date in a month if not more! When we got home, the wheels started turning. How could we go on even more dates?
I made up a calendar. Every first Saturday, grandparents babysit. Every second Saturday, we babysit and our neighbors go out. Every third Saturday, our neighbors babysit. Every fourth Saturday, either we stay home OR hire a babysitter for all four kids, split the cost and go on a double date! If there is a fifth Saturday, we stay home. Genius.
After finishing the calendar, I immediately went into our budget and adjusted and rearranged. Now there is a big, new category: Date Night. It has three subsections: solo dates, double date, and babysitter. We don't need our dates to be extravagant. Sometimes we'll most likely stay in and enjoy the quiet in our home or watch a movie together, uninterrupted, with the volume up so we aren't constantly asking each other what that person just said. I've scoured Pinterest for date night ideas, too.
Some of my favorites:
Wife.Mom.Superwoman's 30 (Non-Cheesy) Date Ideas
The Bridal Tree's First Anniversary Idea (our 5th is coming up!)
Love the Grow's His & Her Q & A
Keeping our relationship growing and alive is very important to us. We love each other so very much and we know we both deserve to not only have more fun with our relationship but also to continually get to know each other. People change as time passes. Birch and I are both different people than when we met, than the people we were when we married, and we are certainly different after having two kids. Growing and changing is perfectly fine and expected. I just want to make sure I stay connected and never grow so busy that I forgot to know the person I chose to spend the rest of my life with and I hope/know Birch feels the same.
What is your favorite date night activity? What have you been yearning to do?