Our daughter was almost 2-years-old the first time we left her with a babysitter, and while I was nervous something would go wrong while we were eating dinner (what if she woke up? what if the fire alarm went off? what if there was no cell service at the restaurant?), the experience ended up being a good one for me. It reminded me what it feels like to be an adult, and also taught me the importance of regularly taking the time out of our busy schedules to connect as a couple.
So we do our best to book a night out at least once a month.
The only problem is, neither of us are overly imaginative when it comes to coming up with new and exciting date night ideas, so we often go to the same restaurant, order the same food, and drink the same wine, and then spend most of the following day nursing a wine headache while simultaneously cursing ourselves for staying out so late.
But not anymore.
I’ve decided it’s time to turn over a new leaf, and I’m all about trying to find fun (and frugal!) date night ideas that won’t leave us unable to function when our daughter wakes up an hour early the following morning.
(Why do kids always do that, anyway?)
And since I know there are other tired parents out there who are looking for affordable date night ideas, I couldn’t resist sharing my favorites with you. I included a few at-home date night ideas at the bottom for the times you can’t find (or afford) a babysitter, and if you’re looking for MORE ways to spend time with your special someone, I highly recommend the book Try Something New: 100 Fun & Creative Ways to Spend Time Together!
1. Go bowling!
I have been DYING to go bowling for a long time, and I finally convinced my husband to give it a try a couple of weekends ago. And guess what? We had a blast! It was so nice to be out doing something completely out of the ordinary with the guy I love, and I got to impress him with my shockingly-good bowling skills, too!
2. Find a cooking class
When a friend of mine went on her first date with her husband, he arranged a cooking class for the 2 of them to do together, and she had a fabulous time. In fact, they celebrate the anniversary of their first date with a cooking lesson each year, and from the pictures they post on Facebook, they seem to really love it. Of course, cooking classes can be expensive, but if you do some digging online, I’m sure you can find some affordable options in your neighborhood.
3. Challenge each other to a game of mini-golf
This is another affordable and out-of-the-ordinary activity you can do together, and it’s a fun thing to do with friends if you want a couples’ night out!
4. Slip out for dessert and coffee
If you can’t afford a full meal out, why not just enjoy dessert and coffee together? There are HEAPS of cool dessert spots in our neighborhood, and I’m a sucker for cheesecake and mocha frappuccinos, you know?
5. Get your groove on!
One of the things I miss the most about my early 30s is shaking it on the dance floor with my husband, but the idea of knocking back half a dozen jagger bombs at a nightclub really doesn’t appeal to me these days, especially since my daughter has a tendency to wake up an hour earlier on weekends. So when my hairdresser told me about a salsa club he and his girlfriend like to go to on Saturday nights, I made a mental note to add it to my list of date night ideas. I’ll let you know if I’m ever able to convince my husband to check it out with me!
6. Grab a beer and play some pool
Whenever we go and visit my in-laws, they graciously offer to babysit so we can grab a couple of hours out alone, and we almost always head to their local pub for a couple of beers and a game of pool. And sometimes, if we’re feeling REALLY daring, we add an order of baked brie into the mix…
7. Visit your local bookstore
The first time we flew to my parents’ place in the US after our daughter was born, my mother INSISTED we go out for an hour or so each night so we could get some couple time in. This was great the first few nights as it had been so long (9 months, 3 weeks, 2 days, and 21 hours, to be exact) since we’d been out alone together, but as the week wore on, we started to run out of ideas for things to do. So one night we decided to just drive to Barnes & Noble to grab a coffee, and we actually had a great time browsing the books together. It was a very low-key outing, but it was perfect.
8. Have fun go kart racing!
If you’ve never done this, you are TOTALLY missing out!
9. Enjoy a walk in the park
Add some hot chocolate to the mix, and it would be the perfect outing!
10. Do something touristy
My daughter and I spent a lot of time visiting tourist hot spots over the summer. I had never been to most (all?) of the places we went, and while some of the stuff was a little hokey, there were a few places that would be fun to visit with my husband after our daughter is tucked in for the night. The people watching alone would be fantastic!
11. Stay home and make fondue!
If you simply cannot find (or afford) a babysitter, why not stay home and make your own fondue? A girlfriend of mine often does this with her husband, and when they invited us over for a couples’ night a few years ago, we actually had a good time. I like to think it was because the conversation and wine was good, but my husband would argue it was the melted cheese and chocolate.
12. Make a fire pit in the backyard
13. Watch a marathon on TV!
My husband and I rarely have time to watch TV during the week, and have issues keeping up with our DVR on weekends, so we often buy our favorite shows on DVD and have our own marathons at home. It’s a great way to unwind on a Saturday, and we’ve been known to watch an entire season of Modern Family in one night!
14. Have a picnic
We usually do this on our living room floor when we’re traveling and our daughter is asleep, but if your baby monitor has good range, you can do this in your backyard, too!
15. Arrange a game night
While at a friends’ place for a play date a few weeks ago, I noticed she had an entire closet filled with board games. I’m not kidding. She even had Boggle! And since she’s such a great person (and hadn’t opened that closet in at least 5 years), she agreed to let me bring a few home with me. And you know what? I’m still a rock star at Scrabble.
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