When was the last time you had a date with your spouse? Like a real date, just the two of you, without the kids under foot or at the same table? Was it within the past month? Within the past three months? Six?
Date nights are hugely important in any relationship, especially when you've got kids. I would argue that they are even more important to maintaining your marriage after add some tiny humans to your family. Not only is closeness vital to your relationship, but it also shows your kids how they deserve to be treated in their own relationships when they get older.
Living on a budget, whether self-imposed or by necessity, can make date nights a little more challenging. But it definitely doesn’t mean you have to give them up!
Put your heads together, or challenge each other to get creative when it comes to having fun without the kids. Here are ten fun ideas for connecting with your spouse that don’t break the bank.
1. Go for a drive.
Before we got married, and long before we had kids, my husband and I would get in the car, pick a direction and go. It was a great way to see some of the gorgeous sights of the Pacific Northwest! Whether you’ve got a few hours or a full day, there’s some point on the map you can go see. Take along some snacks and go.
2. Take a hike or a beach walk.
We’re surrounded by great scenery where we live (see #1 above). Within an hour we can be in the mountains or at the water. This can even be at a local lake. Get out and see nature together. When there’s no one begging you for another bag of fruit snacks, you can focus on each other. It’s also a great time to tackle a route that might be a little more challenging for the kids.
3. Go to the park.
Go walk your dogs at the park. Don’t have dogs? Just talk. Sit down on a bench and dream a little. Swing. Have actual adult conversations, and don’t let them be solely about the kids.
4. Cook together.
If the kids aren’t off at grandma’s, or some other nearby amazing friend/relative’s house, feed them early and have a late dinner once they’re in bed. These are the nights that we have blackened cod or some other meal that our young kids just don’t have the palette for yet. Open up a bottle of wine, get out the candles, and have date night at your own table. I love it when my husband and I cook together - it’s a great way to connect, even before we sit down to eat.
5. Explore a nearby tourist town or landmark.
Do you live near the biggest ball of twine in America? Is there a nearby town that specializes in antique shops? Go there and explore. Take only pictures and create some memories. Pack a lunch or dinner along.
6. Go on a picnic.
A picnic can happen anywhere - even in your own backyard. You don’t even need a fancy basket. Grab a blanket or go find a picnic table somewhere and have a meal away from your dining room table.
7. Have a game night.
My husband is BIG into boardgames. You might like cards. Whatever it is, you should each bring one or two possibilities to the table so you’ve got some options. It can be as simple as card games. The point is to have fun together. You can do this just about anywhere!
8. Tackle a jigsaw puzzle.
Bust out a challenging jigsaw puzzle and work together to finish it. Bonus: drink some wine and get a fire going in the fireplace for some ambiance. Maybe you finish the puzzle, maybe you go to bed early…
9. Make it a movie night.
If you’ve got littles, get something that’s rated PG13 or above. Did you know the library has DVDs? On a recent trip to the library with the kids, I spotted a display with recently released titles - many of them Oscar nominated. You’d be surprised what they have, and it’s free to check out! You could also take a spin through the new movies on Netflix or pick up an inexpensive movie rental at the Redbox.
10. Take a class together.
Home Depot and other home improvement stores often have DIY classes where you can learn something new. Check out your community center, the local YMCA, or the library for events. You never know what’s out there for free or next-to-free, where you can learn something AND spend time together. Take turns picking - one month you get to choose, and the next month he does.
Go have a date night!
With a little creativity, you can still have romance and time to connect, all without busting your budget. After all, what fun will that date night be if all you’re doing is worrying about how much it’s costing? Now pick one of these ten affordable date night ideas and get out and have some fun together!