Two-hour dates for busy parents
Date night: Those two words conjure up mere distant memories for a lot of parents. With kids taking over the lion's share of our schedules, money and energy, spending quality time with our significant others often takes a backseat. One of the biggest obstacles is a serious lack of time. But, if you can chisel out two hours, you can reintroduce date night into your life. Your partner -- and your marriage -- will thank you!
Set the scene
There's no getting around the fact that "kids" and "date" do not go together. Plan ahead to make sure the children are occupied with a babysitter or at a friend's house. If a sleepover's coming up, take advantage and schedule your date plans for that night. Check out your local rec centers or church to see if they have a regular "parents day/night out" event. You can also work out a trade with a neighbor or friend who also has kids. That way, you save the babysitting money, and you can help another couple keep their marriage on track, too.
Have a favorite card game that you haven"t played in a while? Order pizza, break out the cards and crack open a few beers (or sodas). It may not be a night at the Ritz, but conversation is sure to flow, which is key to reconnecting. Don't forget the music -- download the newest tracks from a band you both like, or rock a sentimental oldie-but-goodie that reminds you of your early days together.
For busy parents, nothing says "relax" (or at least "no cooking") like take-out Chinese boxes. Order in, pop in that movie you've both been talking about and curl up together on the couch. A crackling fire and a bottle of wine will take this date to the next level. This is a great option if babysitters are nowhere to be found. Just put the kiddos to bed a little early, and you are ready to go.
You know that mushy feeling you get when you see an elderly couple slowly strolling hand in hand? If you're like most, a hopeful "Awwww…." soon follows. Why not start strolling now? A leisurely walk around your favorite neighborhood, park or bustling city street can be the cornerstone of a romantic evening. Grab a coffee, tea or hot chocolate and just wander together (don't forget the hand-holding). Slowing down the pace of our hectic lives is tough sometimes, so this can be a welcomed respite for both of you.
Not just for the college set, happy hour can be a fun and affordable date for you and your spouse. Check out some local spots for the best deals and get there early if you can. Enjoy each other's company over some discounted appetizers and drinks. An added bonus: You can people-watch and reminisce about the days when happy hour was a regular part of your schedules.
Perhaps one of the most overlooked tools on the romance spectrum, an afternoon picnic can be a memorable (and economical) date. All you need is a blanket, some paper plates, a simple meal -- and sparkling cider (or champagne if your picnic spot allows alcohol). Even leftovers become romantic fare when paired with the perfect scenery. Consider bringing along a family photo album to flip through or favorite music to help set the mood.