Sometimes fitting in romance requires a little creative thinking.
A few years ago, when our oldest child was a serious threenager (i.e. trying to destroy our souls with her constant battles of the wills, stubbornness, and tantrums) and our son was just getting out of the newborn stage, my husband and I realized that the only date nights we'd had in the last year had been weddings, work events, or a quick drink or dinner out while our parents were home with the kids.
Moreover, the possibility of scheduling regular date nights — which we knew we needed to stay connected and strong as a couple — seemed as likely as getting through a day without one of our children crying hysterically. In other words, not a chance.
It was a conundrum. We knew that never getting out of the house alone together was wearing on our marriage.
On our very irregular dates, we got along as well as we always had — laughing, joking around, complimenting each other, and generally enjoying each other's company. At home, however, we were either in teammate mode, juggling kid and house duties and speaking to each other in clipped sentences, or bickering, both exhausted and overwhelmed by parenting two small children.
We were also so focused on our kids that we often didn't realize that we had an open night or weekend until it was already upon us, which as every parent knows is usually way too late to find a sitter who is both trustworthy and, more importantly, available. We'd try, fail, then get irritated with each other for not thinking of booking a sitter sooner.
Our other big hurdle is the fact that our kids are both impossible to get to bed. While we trusted our parents to get the difficult job done, any 19-year-old sitter was sure to either call us to come home early or let our kids stay up until we got home, and both scenarios are date-night vibe killers.
We began to accept our fate of never having a weekend social life again until one of our sitters made us realize something genius: a date night doesn't have to be at night.
We texted our favorite babysitter on a Thursday, asking if she was free Saturday evening and expecting her usual no, which we got, but with a caveat. She was free all afternoon until about 6 p.m. Did we want her then?
It was an aha moment for both of us. We could go out at 2 p.m., have a late lunch or early dinner and a couple of drinks, see a movie, or plan some other activity (winery tour, a visit to the arboretum, shopping), then make it home in time to feed the kids the dinner we picked up for them while we were out, do bath and bedtime, then reconnect while wearing our pajamas.
It was the simplest solution, but it made all the difference.
Since we discovered how easy date days are to execute — seriously, booking a sitter on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon is about 1,000 times easier than scoring one on a Friday or Saturday night — we've planned them regularly, at least once a month, but this winter, it was sometimes every weekend.
Having the one-on-one time together has made us a stronger couple, which in turn makes us better parents. And that's good for everyone.
This article was originally published at PopSugar. Reprinted with permission from the author.