I read many parenting magazines while breastfeeding my first child in the middle of the night. The articles promised to teach me how to sleep train my baby and offered endless tips on how to keep my marriage intact. I failed miserably with sleep training (never made it past one night), and we didn’t stick to any of the date night “rules.” I felt like I was failing everyone! Years later, I finally realized that date night shouldn’t be about following a series of rules, whether you’re a parent or a new couple starting out — it should be about having fun together. So, I stopped worrying about the rules! Here are the ones we’ve broken over and over. Go ahead, try it!
1. The Rule: Don’t talk about your children.
Why we broke it: Seriously, what parents can avoid talking about their kids for a three or four hours? Instead of banning all discussion about our little ones, we dive right in. We talk about our kids, but stay away from boring logistical topics like after school carpool duty or parent-teacher conference appointments. We share funny things the kids did or told us when the other was not around. Once kid talk is out of the way, we naturally move on to other things.
2. The Rule: Try new restaurants or experiences.
Why we broke it: While I’d love to cross off something on our marriage bucket list each time we go on a date, it’s just not possible. After a busy and stressful week, I’m just happy to escape our dirty apartment sans kids and eat a meal I didn’t cook with the man I married. There’s comfort in ritual. We save our bucket list items for when our kids are staying at their grandparent’s place.
3. The Rule: Go out weekly or biweekly.
Why we broke it: Our sitter usually comes over once a month unless we scored tickets to some a can’t-miss event. I know we should try to go out at least twice a month, but my husband and I are homebodies. On most Saturday nights, we grab snacks and a bottle of wine for a Netflix date night. A perk of dating my spouse of 12 years means we don’t have to do something fancy every time. Our stay-at-home date nights remind me of our pre-kid days, when we actually saw movies the night they opened (except staying home in our pajamas and drinking a glass of Malbec is much more budget friendly). It’s also easier to pause the movie if our make-out session evolves into something more thrilling.
Date night is important to our marriage not because we get to eat fancy dinners or see movies the minute they’re out. When my husband and I spend time together without our kids, we remember that we were lovers before we became parents. Making time to do fun things together makes our marriage stronger.
Which of these date night rules have you broken?