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10 Fun 2-hour summer dates for Mom & Dad

Melissa Chapman and her brood of three live in the urban concrete jungle of NYC. She writes Kids in the City Kids in the City a weekly column and blog for the Staten Island Advance, contributes to SheKnows, Time Out NY Kids Time Out N...

summer date nights

The last time you and your husband went out on a date that didn't include either toting a diaper bag and a cooler full of baby food, or sharing a vat of popcorn with your tween, was probably when you were deep in your courtship phase; a.k.a., before the kids came along. It's not that you don't love the fruit of your loins with every last bit of your heart -- but the truth is, you're craving some adult-only time where not a single sippy cup will be in sight and no one will be tugging on your sleeve that they're tired, bored or need to go potty.

Couple on Wine & Cheese Picnic

Of course, scheduling this one-on-one quality time with your husband is a bit of a challenge, being that your babysitter just informed you that she's cutting back her hours to concentrate on her school work (how dare she choose school over your precious kids).

So what's a married couple -- who are beginning to view each other more as roomies than lovers, supposed to do to rekindle that fiery couple flame? Plan a two-hour date night this summer; just enough time to mingle with your honey and get some free babysitting from your folks.

Here are our top 10 two-hour dates for Mom and Dad:

1. Attend an art museum or art gallery opening

It's true that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But going out to art events is a great thing to do as a couple! According to relationship expert Catherine Cardinal, Ph.D. and author of A Cure for the Common Life: The Cardinal Rules of Self-Esteem and Men to Run From, art museums are regularly changing their expositions, and galleries are hosting new artists.

At art openings, they usually have appetizers and wine -- sometimes champagne -- and it's free! And since galleries and museums tend to be in interesting parts of town, it will give you the opportunity to expand your horizons as a couple, get to know your city a little better and perhaps find a great new restaurant or club. You can read up on the artists and see if they are of interest to you. If you hate it, you can always walk out and make fun of the stuff you saw!

2. take the spa home

Remember the 'sizzle' of a new relationship? When you two were so hot for each other, it was hard to get through the dinner part of the date? Well — bring it back, says Dr. Cardinal! It can be done. Just make a plan. Find a place to send the kids, buy some champagne, get some sexy lingerie, aromatherapy candles, draw a bubble bath and be a giggly, newly in-love, uninhibited couple again. Give each other long, slow massages as you let go of all the hats you wear -- Mom, Dad, husband, wife, employee, soccer coach, etc., and be just one thing for two hours: Two adults in love.

3. Try a comedy club

Comedy clubs oftentimes go unnoticed by couples. And they shouldn't, because a night at a comedy club can include dinner, a two-drink minimum (even sodas for the non-drinkers can be fun), and several comedians who are paid to make you laugh, says Cardinal. They work long hours to write material for the sole purpose of cheering you up. How cool is that? And the clubs change their show every week! You'll leave in a great mood, and laughter can be a positive segue to other playful and fun "activities" you can do once you get home.

4. Plan a cheese date

Busy parents need something easy-to-execute, fun, sexy and, if possible, delicious. Why not go on a cheese and wine pairing picnic! Barrie Lynn, the Cheese Impresario, suggests choosing harder cheeses like gouda, parmesan and cheddar.

Ms. Lynn suggests these steps to plan an ideal cheese and wine pairing for an early summer evening picnic adventure: Get one ounce of each cheese:Wisconsin-aged cheddars, SarVecchio parmesan and American artisanal gouda. Bring one and half cups of whole California Mission or Calimyrna (golden) figs, cut them in half to serve with a piece of cheese on top. Don't forget to pack some assorted roasted and unsalted nuts, one loaf of a French baguette and some wines. Parmesan pairs nicely with a lightly oaked Chardonnay; Gouda pairs with a Merlot; and cheddar pairs with a Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfandel. Bring your picnic basket to a quiet spot in the park, feed each other cheese and sip some wine.

5. Go on a romantic audio walking tour

Sharing a personal experience walking together for a couple of hours through the city streets can be quite a romantic little excursion. According to Jonathan Paisner of CityListen Audio Tours, which develops and publishes self-guided audio walking tours for iPods and MP3 players, these tours offer couples the flexibility and simplicity of exploring a city on their own time.

There is a great shared experience that happens as the two of you become connected in your own little world, listening to the same thing that only you can hear as they walk the city streets. And when your eyes are opened anew to a building or some spot that you've walked by a million times, you never really forget it and you'll always think back to that walking tour you shared. Plus, they're just fun in an educational, intellectual way. With an audio tour experience, especially, you feel like you are being let in on a secret. And of course, if you see a cute little bistro along the way, take a break for a treat and then continue on your way. It really is a fun, very connected/intimate experience.

6. Take a flying lesson

How about going to a local airport and taking introductory flying lessons? Through a national learn-to-fly program called Let's Go Flying, sponsored by the nonprofit Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, flight schools across the country are offering introductory flights starting at around $99.

The site lists over 3,500 flight schools, so you'll likely find a flight school in your area. The site also offers a wealth of information about what it takes to begin flying. During the flight, couples could each take a lesson and take their turn at flying the plane. You can sit in the pilot's seat with a full set of controls, taxi, take off and fly the plane for a while before assisting with the landing. And, you'll do all of this under the direction of an FAA-licensed instructor in the co-pilot seat who would also have a full set of controls. Who knows? This could be the beginning of your decision as a couple to take more risks and infuse your marriage with a little more adventure.

7. Grab a Table Topics Cube and go

TableTopics provide fun and thought-provoking conversation starters that will help spark a great conversation between couples, no matter how long they've been together. So grab your husband and your cube, stash the kids with a sitter and head to your local latte joint and start quizzing each other!

Their Couples Edition features refreshing questions that will challenge and inspire your relationship. Some sample questions include: What possession of your partner's would you like to throw away? Is it your similarities or your differences that attract you to each other? What's your favorite photo of your partner? Have obstacles brought you closer together or divided you? And what's the dumbest argument you ever had? You'll have an opportunity to explore together the things that make you unique as individuals and the things that bond you as a couple and learn about each other all over again.

8. Enjoy some stargazing

Imagine sitting underneath the broad sky, gazing at your favorite constellations and your mate. According to Mary Boisselle, founder of Ace of Dates, where subscribers can get fabulous planned-out dates, that's the perfect date.

Find a place where you can gaze up at the midnight sky (smog, fog or citylights-free) and see the abundance of moon and stars. You may need to drive out of the city or it may be as close as your backyard. Before you go on this date, write your spouse a note, stating: May I give you the moon and the stars? Then list the day and time. Bring along a book about astronomy/constellations and see how many you can spot. Take blankets to bundle and snuggle up with, binoculars, a little basket of snacks and some bubbly (alcohol-free if you're driving) and Chapstick for smooching under the stars!

During your date, ask each other a few fun questions to get to know each other better. If you had a chance to ride the space shuttle into space would you go? Have you ever made a wish upon a star? Do you think there is life on other planets? Looking up at the stars will give a couple a chance to mind who they are and what is really important to them.

9. Plan a romantic encounter, aka "a quickie"

According to Irina Firstein, LCSW, a New York therapist and a relationship expert, busy parents don't find time for sex. Sometimes a romantic, spontaneous "quickie" is very exciting and revitalizing to a marriage. Send your babysitter for two hours to the park with the kids and dive into your bedroom or any other part of your home, draw the curtains, and turn on some sexy music. Or check into a hotel room, have some fun, just the two of you. The fact that you have to be quick about it, can make it that much more exciting.

10. Take a cooking class

According to Carley Knobloch, a life coach and productivity expert, what's more intimate than cooking dinner and feeding it to your loved one? Especially if you don't have spit-up on your shirt and a toddler hanging off your leg...

A cooking class is a great way to get dinner and a fun activity into one two-hour period and learn something new, which is always sexy. Try a class that has a bit of an exotic feel, but not so exotic that you're afraid to try your dinner. A foreign food class, like a "Taste of France" or "Pastas of Italy," will take you out of your laundry-filled, diaper-bag-clad life... if just for the night. Also avoid any "family friendly" recipe classes, like "Casserole 101" or "Recipes your kids will enjoy". You're away from the kids, and it's time to cook and eat like a grown-up — go slow, and enjoy each bite and each minute together. Some cooking classes are even designed especially for couples and encourage you to bring a bottle of wine and enjoy your culinary creations by candlelight. Dining al fresco would be the icing on the cake.

Find more couple time ideas on SheKnows:

Great date ideas for any occasion
More two-hour dates for busy parents
De-stressing for couples
How to keep the romance alive (and hot!)

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