During our first few years of marriage, before Little Man was even an idea or a concept, we took a class called Love & Respect which was videos and the book Love & Respect by Emerson Eggerich. This class should be part of pre-marital counseling, if you ask me. This class opened my eyes to see marriage in a different light. Plus, it solved half my problems before they actually became a problem. One of the important things this class stressed was daily time with your spouse, that was just you two. Time that the kid (or kids) knew not to bother you and they did something else for those fifteen minutes or whatever. It was called couch time. My hubby and I are kinda awful at couch time. We spend a lot of time together doing similar activities and doing the shoulder to shoulder thing Eggerich talks about. But, one thing we latched onto, eventually, was date night.
Date nights are a must. Plain and simple. We have short seasons where we don’t get a date night because we use our church’s weekly kid’s program as our babysitter for date nights. (Our friends and family watch little man to help our work schedule/childcare situation so I’m not asking anymore from them) so when weekly kid’s program is on a break, our date night is on a break and we do family things instead. We still have fun. Family dates are really awesome.
But, we really stick to our date nights, even when we are broke and our budget is as tight as a pair of super skinny jeans. Honestly, date night is the first budget category we cut when things get tight because we know we can come up with other ideas without spending money.
Since I’ve been doing this date night thing for a while and I feel almost expert level at making up stuff for a date night, I thought I would share some ideas with you. These ideas are free or very, very inexpensive.
1. Walk around a Target/Ikea/Walmart, etc.– When hubby and I were dating, a long time ago, we used to be broke teenagers (we were 19). He also worked the strangest schedule and would sometimes go into work at like 1AM. So during our date nights back then, we would walk through the Walmart down the street from my dad’s apartment. It was great because it would be like 11:30 at night and nobody would really be around. We would walk down the furniture isles and talk about the future. We would plan out furniture pieces we liked and how we would fit them into a place of our own. We would browse toy isles and talk about our favorite toys when we were kids and also wonder what the heck kind of toys they were making for kids now. Now, when we have our date nights and zero money, we’ll walk around Target’s furniture isles (and decor) point out things we like and then design make believe rooms. We talk about how different pieces go together and would make a great place in an office or living room. We will probably never have these rooms ourselves but they are fun to design.
2. Walk around a bookstore– We both love books and we want to read all the things. So we’ll hit the Barnes & Noble and walk through the isles talking about books. We’ll separate, find a book we think the other will like and share it. Sometimes, we’ll even read magazines and check out the kid’s books (little man loves to read too). It’s easy to get lost in a bookstore, especially when there are writing things all around too.
3. Get ice cream– we have a cute little ice cream shop near our church that carries thrifty ice cream (the best!) and makes ice cream sandwiches with cookies they make in the store. I just go for the ice cream but I’ll get a cookie on the side, it is delicious and very inexpensive. I think I spent $6 on both mine and hubby’s ice cream, plus my cookie.
4. Writing date– Since we are both writers, we will sometimes go to the library or a Starbucks and just write together. We’ll be working on our pieces separately but it’s nice to have someone there in case I get stuck and need to get some input. He does the same thing. We work together in our writing, even if it is just small parts. We also do this with homework since we’re both still in school. Homework dates feel super productive, we got time together AND homework done. It’s a win-win.
5. Photoshoot- This one is really fun. We went to a park that was more of a wildlife preserve and did a photoshoot with each other. We kept seeing bunnies hopping across the dirt trails and kept trying to snag a picture, we never did, but it was fun trying. Now, you don’t have to only do it at a park, find some pretty store fronts and just take pictures. While this seems silly, it is fun to look back on them. We’ve also done this with a family date when we just wanted to get out of the house but didn’t want to spend money. We went downtown and just took pictures.
These are great ideas and starting points. Writing not your thing but you and your spouse share a hobby? Go and do that! Date nights are easy when you shift the focus from doing something awesome and “date night worthy” to just spending time with each other.