The courting stage of any relationship is always very exciting. The hours long conversations on the phone, the first time you hold hands, finding out that you have so many things in common…the list goes on and on. When I first met my husband in college, I could feel that things were different and that he was “the one” for me. Fast forward 10 years and we are married with two little baby boys. Our days are no longer filled with lounging around the house, cooking nice meals together, and going out whenever we wanted to.
Instead we are in the non-stop chaotic cycle of daycare drop off, full time work, daycare pick up, and parenting all night long. Very little rest, repeat. It seemed like it would never end, and somewhere in that circus, we lost our identity as a couple. Instead of being ourselves, we were always just mom and dad; worn out from the crazy lifestyle of parenting small children. Something had to be done. Enter date night.
A very good friend of mine told me at my baby shower, that the best piece of advice she ever received and wanted to pass on to me, was that your spouse should come first. “Don’t forget about your husband,” she said. “Your love for one another is the reason that this baby is here. It’s easy for that to get lost, so you really need to work on loving each other in order to make your family thrive.”
The memory of this advice came back so clearly one day, when I realized that I hadn’t been on a proper date with my husband in months. When was the last time we had a nice dinner and some drinks? A night at the movies or even just an afternoon walk that didn’t involve a stroller? Something had to be done. After a long conversation, we decided that a scheduled date night might help. It would be once a month, and we would take turns booking the reservation and the babysitter. We actually put it on our shared calendar so that neither one of us scheduled anything else over it.
This turned out to be just what we needed. At first it felt strange to be away from the kids. I think our first outing was only an hour before we decided to head home! After a few dates, we decided to step it up and involve a little gift for each other. Nothing pricey but a little something to show that we are thinking of one another; that we are listening when the other one is talking about their hopes and dreams. Flowers, a new wallet, new socks after “the dryer ate up all the good ones” are just some examples.
Five years later, we still do a date night most months. Sometimes with a small gift and sometimes without. Last weekend we were able to get away to Vermont for a lovely fall weekend. We have a great babysitter who we trust completely with our kids. The effort to get up to Vermont on a rainy Friday night in Fairfield County traffic was well worth it. The feeling of down time without the chaos of work and raising small children was just what we needed. It’s these date nights and once in a while mini-vacations that keep us connected and make all of the craziness worth it. They serve as a reminder of what is important – our love for one another and our family. Because without us, there would be no them! We are more than just parents.