If you have kids (and even if you don’t), you know the importance of “date night.” It’s a night where you get out with your spouse, eat dinner somewhere decent and do other fun stuff (hopefully).
My wife and I try to plan a date night out at least once a month. It typically involves us dropping off our kids at a grandparents’ house (to spend the night) and then enjoying some time together without them.
Our date nights have morphed over the last 13+ years. When we first started dating and even early into our marriage, we ate dinner and then did “exciting” things like hanging with other couples, bowling, miniature golf and/or the movies. Now, our date nights are a little more subdued. They almost always involve dinner (where we wouldn’t take the kids) and then any combination of things afterwards. Inevitably, we end up at The Home Depot. In fact, I don’t remember many recent dates where we didn’t go.
On a recent date night, we were standing in the return line at Wal-mart (after a visit to The Home Depot) and my wife made a comment about us not doing anything exciting on our nights without the kids. While I’d like to tell you that I looked her in the eyes and said, “The only thing that matters to me is that I get to spend time with you.” I actually said something along the lines of how great it was to get to do anything without the kids. I went on to say that we had the freedom to do whatever we wanted and wouldn’t have to go through the nightly battle of getting our kids in bed.
We’ve always struggled with not doing anything “fancy” on our date nights. All of the sudden, we have free time and don’t know what to do with it. I’m always reminded of this quote from the movie “Old School” where Will Ferrell’s newly married character was asked about his Saturday plans:
“Well, um, actually a pretty nice little Saturday. We’re going to go to Home Depot. Yeah, buy some wallpaper. Maybe get some flooring. Stuff like that. Maybe Bed, Bath, & Beyond. I don’t know. I don’t know if we’ll have enough time.”
― Will Ferrell’s character, Frank the Tank, in “Old School.”
This quote has become my personal mantra for date nights. I’m with not doing anything “fancy.”
Here are 5 reasons why I think parents shouldn’t feel guilty about what they do (or don’t do) on date night:
1) You get to spend quality alone time with your spouse. I think this is one of the most important aspects of marriage. In the day-to-day grind of being parents/responsible adults and work, we don’t spend as much time with our spouses as we should. Who cares if you only go to dinner and then rent movies to watch at home? I certainly don’t. Sounds like a perfect night to me.
2) Going to The Home Depot (or any other store) without kids is practical and a lot more fun. If you own a house, chances are that you have a project where you need something from The Home Depot. If you’ve ever gone shopping with kids, you know it’s not fun. They always manage to find something they want whether it’s a gum ball, a drink, a house key, a piece of rope or a metal yard sign. They will find something and they will harass you until your ears bleed. My wife and I love The Home Depot and could walk up and down the aisles for hours. We like to dream. You can’t do that if you have kids with you.
3) It’s nice to get a break from the kids. I love my kids more than life itself but I’ve got to get away from them do the things I want to do. One night away recharges me for all the other nights of sibling fighting, homework, dinner, bathes and bed time.
4) We save money. Have you gone to a movie theater lately? Two tickets and popcorn is like $40. We can have a decent dinner and rent two movies from Redbox for less than half of that.
5) It’s a chance to do whatever you want. My wife and I don’t even have to be together. After dinner (and visits to Wal-mart and Home Depot) on a recent date night, I worked in my garage for several hours while my wife went shopping. Afterwards, we went out for ice cream sundaes. It was awesome.
Don’t feel bad about running errands or doing things on date night that would be perceived as “unexciting” by others. As a parent, you have to take time for yourself. You’ll be much happier and more engaged with your kids.
I’ll leave you with the scene from “Old School” mentioned above: