Date Night


Up until last Friday night I had been so snarky and resistant to the idea of date night.

Pre-baby “date night” felt contrived. I much preferred to snuggle up on the couch with a good movie and bottle of wine. Who needs all that fuss of getting dressed, smelling nice, and going out? (In hindsight, I regret not having gone out more now that it’s not so much of a daily option.)

Post-baby I felt like everyone who urged us to have a date night just didn’t get it. They clearly didn’t understand. We actually like hanging out with our baby. And yeah, it might be nice to get away but coordinating care, pumping, the idea of disrupting the routine, and the general anxiety that comes with trusting someone else with your baby … nothing about it felt sexy or desirable. It was just more trouble than it was worth.

It took seven months into this parenting gig to finally find myself ready, no desperate, for a night out with my man. I wanted to wear a real bra, put on some makeup, and go bowling. I asked one of Fox’s favorite teachers at daycare, Miss Taylor, if she’d be up for some Friday night moonlighting – she said yes! I almost canceled last minute because Fox had a snotty nose and none of us had gotten much sleep the night before. Date night was starting to feel like a lot of effort. But I put on my best smoky eye and my tightest raw denim. Miss Taylor showed up just before 7PM and I gave her as much information as I possibly could. “Here are his bottles – I don’t know how to heat them up (Miss Taylor assured me she could heat a bottle on the stove). Here are his diapers and here is his crib. He’s asleep right now but he’ll probably wake up soon. He can jump in his bouncer or chill and watch TV with you. I’m leaving his car seat in case there is an emergency or you’d like to kidnap him to Mexico.”  Miss Taylor, sporting a backpack full of textbooks to study, assured us that she would take care of our baby and urged us out the door.

As we pulled out of the driveway I was tempted to roll down the windows and whoop “DATE NIGHT!!!” Pre-baby me was rolling my eyes big time. Then post-baby me gave pre-baby me the finger.

First we hit up some Indian buffet – which I’m always so enthusiastic going into and always a bit regretful about halfway through my second plate of saag paneer, raita, naan, and fried spinach. We split a beer and talked about things other than our baby. Then bowling. We got to the bowling alley while it was still a bit too bright out and there were very few cars in the parking lot. Just another reminder that … things now are not like they were before. Whatever. DATE NIGHT!

When I was a kid my parents had a weekly date at the bowling alley. They were on a league and even had their own bowling balls with their names engraved on the sides. Jeremy and I are parents now, so bowling seemed like the most appropriate option for our first date night out. Two games in my left boob was reminding me that I’m still very much a new mom. Meanwhile, Miss Taylor texted me to say that Fox was SO happy when he woke up that she was there to give him cuddles (and a bottle or two). I was ready to head back home when Jeremy reminded me that we were having fun. Plus, we paid for unlimited bowling which was a whole 3¢ more than the cost of two games. So we might as well get our money’s worth. We high-fived through spares and gave each other tips in technique. In my last frame I got two strikes in a row. It was awesome. But my left boob really was about to explode. And at 9:30PM it was getting past my bedtime.

It really does feel like just yesterday that I was the one being babysat while my parents went bowling. And it was literally just yesterday that I didn’t see what all the “date night” fuss was about. But as we drove home I felt a little older – a little more grown up. I felt like I was really starting to get it. The whole date night thing. The whole mom thing. The whole wife thing. The whole life thing. It’s not always super sexy. But sometimes it is. Sometimes it takes coordination and a little extra effort. And sometimes it’s glimpses of spontaneous bliss. It’s all a little messy but it’s all oh so worth it.

P.S. I bowled a 77, 111, and 99. They all felt like lucky numbers. Jeremy managed to beat me by a few points every time even though I always felt as if I was kicking his ass.

P.P.S. I need more date night ideas! Comment below with suggestions.

  1. Jennie

    I just have to say that I love reading about your mom life realness. I’m currently on maternity leave with my 2 month old (my first babe) and it feels good to relate! My little guy has started showing signs of the dreaded Witching Hour in the evenings (we call it “rage baby time”) and I immediately thought of you guys!

    It’s funny how no one tells you that you literally have to learn how to live life again with a baby. I’m FINALLY able to get myself dressed and out the door with an infant in tow, but at first it seems seriously impossible. The hubs and I haven’t done date night yet, but will soon.

    • Rage baby! Haha. It’s not funny – I remember feeling like that would be my whole life. Swaddle! Get a routine! All that good stuff – I promise it will get better. XO

  2. Heather

    Date nights don’t happen often at our house, but they’re so necessary. One of our favorite things to do is to see a movie. We used to see movies all the time before kiddos, and now we have to really plan ahead and decide which movies we really want to see in the theater. Sometimes we’ll play hooky and go see a movie while the kids are at day care, but it is one of our favorite things to do when we have a night out. We also like doing afternoon wine/beer tastings and going antiquing without the kids.

    We laugh now about how much things have changed and at being parents, especially when a crying baby or toddler interrupts a good make-out session or… otherwise.

    • Ah, a flight of beers and antiquing sounds like so much fun. Fox, without fail, always seems to wake up when we’re getting it on! And usually right when things are getting really good. Ha! It’s like he knows and is all “wait a second! What is going on!?”

      • Heather

        They absolutely know without fail! It’s uncanny the knack they have for waking up at the worst possible times! :p

  3. Kristen

    Congrats on a successful date night! I second the movie idea…that seemed almost impossible for the first several months. Now we are totally content with a longish dinner out…or wandering around Target for a few hours. Just kidding…kind of. We are also huge fans of the quick drink in the middle of the afternoon! But it’s the lingering that matters to us now – with the twins in tow there’s really no possibility of stretching the dinner a little longer, or just browsing aisles. And we do find that date nights take practice! But the more we do them, the more we enjoy them. And the kids love having someone else around, too.

    • We have a great theater here that serves food and drinks while you watch the movie. It’s definitely on my list! And an afternoon delight… All about it!

  4. shelly

    my favorite date i’ve ever been on was one where we played “the asian market game.” the name of hte game is each of you takes $10 and chooses some crazy food that each of you has to try. I generally stick to candy, fruits and sodas because they are ready to eat without and prep. Then you and your date have a picnic while you try all the crazy things youve bought, whoever finds the best snack wins! We generally go out for real food before or after we play the game so we actually get a meal, or you could pack sandwiches along for your bizarre food picnic. I’ve also played this game at the Middle eastern market, the Eastern European market… its fun, but I also really love grocery stores haha.

    • It sounds like a great way to try new foods! We have a really great Asian district in OKC with a wonderful grocery store.

  5. Margie

    We tend to do date night at home. We liked to clean out our DVR cause holy shit 60%?! I miss going to the movies. The last movie I saw, at the theater was The Dark Knight Rises. Maybe as a birthday treat we can sneak out and watch Guardians of the Galaxy. I also miss my bowling league. Our team won the summer league, thankyouverymuch. 🙂

    Parenting is hard, yo. I mean, God forbid you forget his water, diapers, clean wipes, extra outfit and a snack.

    How about Bingo?

    • I get too distracted at home! But tonight, for instance, we’re picking up sushi and maybe we’ll even eat it at our dining room table rather than in front of the TV. (Which is where we typically eat dinner!)

      Love the idea of bingo!

  6. Rachel

    Ahh date nights (which is such a soccer mom term, amiright?). But oh so necessary to feel somewhat human and sexy wifey again post-baby.

    I think maybe it was Joanna Goddard who wrote a post somewhere about date nights and about how to keep the momentum going after the date when you come home. She said that she read somewhere that the dad should be the one to pay the babysitter because if it’s the mom, you immediately fall back into “mom mode” and start getting the details on how much the baby ate/slept/pooped, and then the odds of you getting it on that night dropped significantly. haha I still think about that and I think it’s true.

    • TOTAL soccer mom term … which is probably why I was so opposed.

      Ha, Jeremy did pay our babysitter but I was still in total mom mode asking for every detail about Fox (plus, he was all swaddled on the couch when we got home anyway).

      We need to double-date it before the little one arrives!

  7. JC

    What is it about men always being able to just squeak in the win? My fiance drives me nuts with that. Our favorite date night is dinner and a walk down town. There’s always fun stuff to look at that bring up conversations. We also really like day dates in the park, picnics are pretty much the best.

    • I love the idea of a day date in the park. Maybe once the weather cools off a bit!

  8. Joelle

    We also did a date night at home once, but made sure to drop off the kids at my parents’ house. There’s something amazing about reclaiming the house for just the two of you and not having to get up every two seconds to change a diaper, refill a zippy cup, or vacuum ritz cracker crumbs.

    Once every other month or so we take a day trip to the other side of the island (we live in Hawaii) stopping at our favorite beaches and restaurants and just talking. It’s important to us to date during the day once in a while because those our are best hours and we’re so used to giving those hours to kids and work.

    • It’s funny that you mention this because when I told Jeremy we got a babysitter he thought we were taking Fox to her house (so we could get it on at our house). Ha!

  9. Cory and I hesitate to tell people this, but we love the classic dinner-and-movie dates. We love busy restaurants, we LOVE the movie pre-movie commercials and reminders about turning your phone off and trailers for upcoming movies. The whole ritual of it. It sounds so boring, I guess, but it’s our thing.

    Occasionally we branch out to ice skating or picking fruit at an orchard or visiting a watering hole for a secluded swim. Sometimes we build a blanket fort and watch movies we picked out from the $5 bin at Wal Mart. Mini adventures are still adventures, and that’s what we think of “date nights” as.

    • Have you guys been to the Warren Theater yet? It’s totally on my list of things to do (we loved it pre-baby).

      Love your mini-adventures. I need to explore my own city a little more, it seems.

  10. Naurnie

    Because of what I do for a living, our date nights were forced early on. The first time I left SG was to go to a Father John Misty show. But now, my in-laws will stay home with our gal while I have to work shows and William and I squeeze in dinners beforehand.

  11. Naurnie

    OH AND MOVIES. Going to a movie these days seems like a luxury.

  12. jess

    I don’t have children…but my husband and I DO both have 40+ hour work weeks in production (read: weird hours that are usually opposite of one another) PLUS building a free lance company for 40 more hours a week, so date nights have become a must for us simply because we wouldn’t see each other otherwise.

    We love the typical dinner + movies, we’re also really weird and will have date nights at places like Lowes and home decor stores because we’re both in to that and love dreaming up what we want to do with our house. We’ll take mini road trips (like an hour away) and find something that inspires something in us, whether it’s cultural, music, trying something new. We’ve also really been digging the “double date nights” too, it’s just nice to bring in a new element with new conversations.

    We do go bowling sometimes. but I suck at it and get cranky, so it’s usually not a good idea.

    I think the point is just to get away from the routine so we can talk about life. Our marriage counselor actually told us that couples talk more when they’re not at home (too many distractions) so we get out even just for coffee in order to have conversations past the day to day–to dream up future and remember why we got into this whole marriage thing in the first place–we really, really like each other.

  13. Kristy

    Movies, putt putt golf, dinner at a high top table (high chairs don’t go high enough for these) or a picnic (our little one is crawling so we would just be chasing her if she came on a picnic), wandering around our favorite outdoorsy store – all good dates. 🙂 I feel you with the boob thing. That is ALWAYS the reason we have to hurry home to our little one.

  14. Emily

    We went out for an anniversary date recently (2nd date night! 8 month old). It was so good to be out and not be thinking about the baby the whole time, as much as I love her (she’s currently asleep on my legs post nursing.) We went around to 4 different restaurants having small plates and cocktails, though we only managed 3 cocktails between the two of us. It was fun walking around the city and ordering our favorite small dishes at all of the restaurants, and getting 2 seats at the bar is usually easy. The first date out was for a concert, and that was great too! I think timing them to minimize boob pain/pumping is key, we didn’t stay out too long either time.

  15. Lisa

    I am a TOTAL snarky date-night hater. I made the mistake of mocking date night in front of friends with kids awhile back, and they were all like, “When you have a baby, you’ll change your tune!”

    So glad you had fun & glad for confirmation that my date night friends aren’t actually lame.

    But most of our evenings are spent working or lounging on the couch. So maybe I’m the lame one. Ha!

  16. Alien Mind Girl

    The hubby and I have a sacred monthly date night (aka, monthaversary), which we started because we were roommates when we began dating. It’s relationship therapy to basically make sure we set aside Fun Time and not just What’s-For-Dinner-Let’s-Watch-Star-Trek-Will-You-Walk-The-Dog.

    So the key for us is getting out of the date mindset… and more into the Fun mindset. Like, what have we been wanting to do for a while, and have put off? Try the new pie shop? H&8th? Kayak? Bike around the lake? Zip line across the river? See the new exhibit at the art museum? AcroYoga? Shakespeare in the Park? Or just stay home, unplug the phones, and get some 1-858-TOGO with good wine if we are just too tired to mess with anything.

    Date night just means you and your guy, having fun. Not necessarily dinner and a movie (although that IS fun!) but whatever you need at that moment in time to feed your soul. Bowling sounds great. You have lots of good date nights ahead and the possibilities are endless.

    And… the State Fair is coming up. That is always one of our favorite dates.

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