A regular date night will recharge your spirit, rekindle your love for one another and keep the lines of communication open. No one said a date night was limited to a couple. Instead of thinking “three is a crowd,” change your thoughts to “the more the merrier”. When my husband and I go out for dates, we spend a fair amount of time talking about our kids. It is only natural since they are a big part of our lives. While you might not want to bring your kids on every date, dating with kids in tow is better than not at all.
Concert – Lawn seat tickets are perfect for a family date. Whether you attend a free concert in the park or catch a show at a large venue, you can enjoy your favorite concert while your kids play on the blanket nearby. Keep them busy with plenty of food and entertainment. If your children are younger, bring their pajamas and let them pass out when they get tired. If you are lucky, the kids will enjoy the concert as much as you do.
Go out for dinner – Choose a restaurant based on patience of your children. My daughters were happy to sit and color while my son wanted to get up and run around. Try restaurants that offer entertainment like the dine-in movie theatres or a Hibachi steakhouse. If your kids have ants in their pants, don’t stick around for coffee and dessert. Instead, take a walk to burn off some of your dinner before heading home.
Camp out in the back yard – Ok, so it not a night at the Ritz, but it is still romantic. Cook dinner over an open fire. Don’t limit yourself to hot dogs on a stick. Instead, try salmon and veggies in foil packets. For dessert, cut a banana lengthwise with the peel on. Fill with choc chips and marshmallows and wrap in foil. Cook for five minutes or until melted and serve with a spoon. After dinner, star-gaze with the kids until they fall asleep and then spend the rest of the night cuddled under the stars.
Head down memory lane – Kids are curious to see the places their parents spent time before they had children. Take your kids to see your first date spot, your high school or college campus. Show them your first apartment or the house you grew up in. Have a meal at the restaurants you used to frequent before the kids were born. Your journey will spark interesting conversations and recall some wonderful memories.
Go for a drive – Pack the kids in the car with their favorite drinks and books and head out for an hour. My husband and I have enjoyed this date since before our children were born. It is a great way to map out your dreams or take care of unsolved issues. While you enjoy some adult conversation, the kids can look at the scenery, their books or a take much needed nap. If everyone has displayed good behavior on the date, reward them with a stop for ice cream.
Share your interest with your children – Think back to your first dates with your spouse. In order for him to get to know you better, you showed him a part of yourself and your interests. Take your kids skiing, to the art museum or the flea market. Head out on the bike trail, run a 5K or take the kids along when you volunteer. Children learn by watching. Show them there is more to mom and dad than carpools and chores.
Make a candlelight dinner for….five – Serve a family friendly dinner in the dining room on the good china. Dress up for the occasion, explaining that everyone should be on their best behavior. Light some candles and turn down the lights. Pour the milk in plastic wine glasses so everyone feels special. Make a toast to each other and the family you created.
Dating is a time to do something fun together, to laugh, to get to know someone better and to try new things. While it is important for you and your spouse to get out alone, that is not always possible. Show your children the love that you and your spouse share. By setting an example of a loving marriage, your children will carry on those traits to their own relationships.
Pam Molnar is a freelance journalist and mother of three.
She and her husband have been dating for the past 30 years.