Some people don’t believe in the tooth fairy–I don’t believe in babysitters. (And I don’t think there is anything wrong with people who do.)
But I do believe that dating doesn’t have to stop once you’re married (dating your spouse, that is). It just becomes more difficult, especially after children. So how do you date your spouse, if you don’t believe in babysitters?
My husband and I both agreed after our son was born five years ago that we did not want to leave him with babysitters, especially when he was an infant and unable to tell us how the experience was. (The decision was reinforced when my son was an infant and we left him with a family member who kept him in his car seat by an open patio door for the entire hour and another family member who took him out in his stroller and left him in the middle of the street while he picked flowers. Was a night watching an overrated film and eating overpriced greasy popcorn worth endangering my son? Probably not.
We simply believe that having our son with us is most important.
We have been following attachment parenting before we even knew what it was. I homeschool my son and work from home along with the occasional meeting or event, where I either take my son with me or my husband watches him. My husband is a touring musician, so being with my son is a 24/7 task for me most of the time. Do I mind it? Not at all. Does it take a toll? Sure. Would I have it any other way? No.
But being together as a couple and not just as parents is extremely important, so we have learned to date creatively or “date outside of the box” as I like to call it.
For us, this includes two strategies: “Dating in,” where we stay in and enjoy our time after our son is asleep (sans the week’s to-do list discussions), or “threesomes”–not the kind one would think of as spicing up a marriage, but going on a family date (appropriately geared to the tolerance and likes of an almost 5-year-old).
If home is where the heart is, why shouldn’t dates happen there too? After having a child, DVDs and online television episodes have become our best friends (since we don’t have cable). We may see blockbuster movies a bit later than everyone else, but at least we still see them.
On other occasions, we order dinner in and picnic outside (where we can hear our son after he has fallen asleep) or even lay a blanket on on the living room floor. Exhaustion usually precedes the evening after shuffling to get my son to bed on time, but it ends up being well worth it.
Sometimes we even camp out on the living room floor. It just seems like a small getaway (from our bedroom) where often we sleep with our son. (He also joins us on our camping getaway but it seems, if for just a moment, as if we are worlds away from our daily routine).
Although dating in can be fun, we need to get out as well, so we head out on a family date (threesome) for a nice early dinner with a long drive back home, when my son usually falls asleep. Often we also just go for a long drive up the coast or somewhere with a view and pack some snacks (got to have snacks) and comfy blankets for my son in the back. He is usually sound asleep after a few minutes, while my husband and I enjoy the views and our time together (and drive thru coffee shops with our little guy in the backseat).
My son is also used to attending live theatre, concerts and shows as we have taken him since before he learned to walk. Of course, we always make sure it is not too late or past his bedtime and appropriate for him. (Matinee performances mostly.) He enjoys them, as do we, and we get to spend time out together doing something that grown-ups do.
Most importantly, dating time often comes down to the moments in between our hectic schedules. Between homeschool activities, writing, events, and my husband’s late night gigs or sessions, we make the most of every moment we find together.
We strive to make every moment count…but a night out with dinner and dancing together may be in order. It has been a while.