My parents have taught me countless valuable lessons over the years, but perhaps one of the most important was this: Make your marriage a priority.
It doesn’t mean that you ignore the rest of the world around you, and live in a double bubble full of sunshine and unicorns and rainbows. And it doesn’t mean you don’t place your kids super-high up on the priority list, either; of course you do.
But it does mean to carve out time for one another. Be each other’s best advocate. Be friends. Be lovers. Be united. I’d like to say my husband and I live this every day, but I’d be lying. Our marriage is as imperfect as it is wonderful. While I type this, he—who was up until 2 a.m. washing the kitchen floor, is sound asleep on the couch. He’s a saver; I’m a spender. He enjoys putzing around the house and “tinkering” on weekends…and I’m three steps ahead planning out fun-filled activities for the next four weekends.
And while the most important product of our marriage—besides the countless memories and many shared experiences—is our two beautiful children, that can’t be all that unites us as a couple. It’s important that, amid the chaos that is our life, we are still Melissa and Luis.
However, finding time to be “us” isn’t easy. Once children come into the picture, the days of just hanging out on the couch snuggling are few and far between. Work nights are a blur of dinner prep, baths, books, clean-up, next day prep, and then, eventually, sleep. We don’t have family in the area, so we need to rely on sitters for dates. We try to go out to dinner or do a couple activity once a month, but it doesn’t always happen—and so connect-time becomes that much more critical.
What seems to work well for us is the “day date,” where every couple of months we take a random day off work and spend it together like we used to do BK (“Before Kids”), doing things we took for granted then that are now a luxury.
While it might not sound terribly romantic, on our most recent day date, we spent the morning cleaning the house and working out, then went to lunch and a matinee. By the time we got the kids at 5:30 p.m., we had had a great day together—and a solid 10 hours with only us. Like old times. Though dates don’t necessarily involve killer heels and nights on the town, here are my top eight reasons to embrace the day date:
8. You’re already paying daycare/kids already in school. Why not take advantage of this fact?! #FreeSitter
7. Museums, stores, theaters, sporting events, restaurants, etc. are generally less crowded during the weekday. And often admission is cheaper. Score! Make a lunch reservation at that new hot restaurant you’ve been dying to try. Get your holiday shopping done before all the crazies get out there.
6. For once, your plans aren’t dictated by nap schedules. Go for that 20-mile trail ride the kids couldn’t handle. Or stay home in PJs and veg out sans plans, guilt-free.
5. You can have not one, but *two* meals that do not include crayons being strewn across the table, spilled milk, or endless rounds of “Wheels on the Bus.” You also will not have to make a single apology to a waiter/waitress for your companion’s behavior. In theory.
4. You can drive somewhere and have adult conversations that aren’t punctuated by (sweet!) toddler chatter about how so-and-so “took a shopping cart and wasn’t nice and went on a BREAK.” One of our favorite day-dates was at a little resort town near where we live called Saugatuck. We had a blast just window-shopping, walking around without a stroller, and dining al fresco.
3. No schlepping! Leave that unsightly diaper bag and emergency clothes at home because today, you can carry a cute, tiny purse! And the snacks in said cute, tiny purse can be things YOU like.
2. You can have coffee *and* dessert because there is no bed-time routine to rush home for.
1. You get genuine quality time together vs. a couple quick, predictable hours.
#1 is really the most important one for me. We usually end up going out to dinner for the uninterrupted quiet time together, but that can become too routine. Having a whole day together—whether you stay home or do something out of the ordinary—is a great way to bond and keep your relationship strong.
How about you? Are you a fan of the day-date?