Parents: Tops tips for Date Night (or Date Day)
As much as I adore my munchkin more than anything in the world, and can’t bare to be parted for very long, I do think it important to have some fun, child–free time with the other half. A few stolen moments where conversations cannot be interrupted, where we are just coordinating ourselves, and are allowed the simple luxury of sitting next to each other. All relationships need nourishment, and date days or nights work well for us. Taking a moment to reconnect, let niggles fade and to simply enjoy each other. It’s not easy to create this time, but we try if possible to facilitate this by having at least one thing to look forward to each month. Sometimes I plan a few months ahead (mostly to ensure that my dearest can’t fill his diary and escape my clutches to the realms of sport).
Here are a few examples of our stolen moments, some more elaborate than others:
- Afternoon cinema:
If you have children at school or nursery, and you and your partner (or just you) can get the afternoon off work, hit the cinema. It feels mischievous, indulgent and actually quite exciting. What you watch doesn’t really matter as you will probably just use it for an afternoon nap (in fact we have often discussed the possibility of cinemas doubling up as afternoon nap places for adults). In our local cinema (Showcase) they have ‘The Directors Hall’. Here there are luxurious large leather seats positioned in two’s. They will then serve you wine and food at your seat. You seriously can’t ask for more.
The best bit is the slightly naughty feeling when emerging from the exit, praying that you won’t bump into another parent from school. There almost follows a twinge of guilt until you pick them up from their various institutions and are swiftly reminded of your need for said afternoon in the first place. Call it therapy. Don’t waste a moment, book now.
- Day tripping:
So we are lucky enough to live roughly 50 minutes away from London, Birmingham and Nottingham, and Cambridge, which means that we within reach of plenty of fun destinations in which to spend the day. They say that change is a good as a holiday. Well I think that that indeed is the case, and a day spent away from your usual environment with your partner can do your relationship the world of good. It is also particularly good to do if your prime role is child career/school runner, and living vicariously through your child each day is about as exciting as it gets.
When we have managed to engineer a mid-week day together we will do school drop-off together which the munchkin loves, and jump straight on a train (pre-booked through the trainline app) to somewhere with an early lunch booked ahead (some great offers on Bookatable). Lunch at 12pm gives you time to mooch around the shops, and approx. 1.5 hours to enjoy before heading back home. One course (of food), no alcohol and a coffee to go for the train home can keep things affordable but still enjoyable. This may sound crazy, but it’s fun and exciting and great for reinvigorating those energy levels.
- Dinner for two
So ideally you will have the opportunity to escape to your local favourite restaurant and enjoy a romantic dinner for two. If we do have the opportunity to do this, we would never book for before 8.30pm. That way we still get to do the bath and PJs with the kids, and sometimes even get them to sleep before we go out. Things are therefore much more relaxed, and less anxieties all round, plus It feels a bit more ‘tropical’ too to be out past 9pm on a Friday night. You may find yourself asleep face-down in your soup, but it was worth it (yes, you’ve still got it).
If you cannot escape, or simply don’t want to leave the house then you can still enjoy a romantic dinner for two. Make the effort to lay the table, get the candles out, put something nice on, get your favourite sound track on, have a bottle wine and pretend it’s just the two of you. You’d be surprised how easy it is to start flirting again (the magic of wine and candle light…). The best part is that you don’t even have to cook. Get a take way and present it nicely. I love Just Eat for easy ordering, or of course Deliveroo if you have it in your area. You might be pooped, but try to do on a Thursday or Friday as more likely to get the kids to bed on time. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you have remote chance of having any time to yourself on a Saturday or Sunday evening. Plus you can ‘dine-out’ (pardon the pun) on the romance all weekend, reflecting on that wonderful evening during less calm moments.
- Take a class together
So all of these are of course dependant on child care, but when we have an evening booked with grandma or the baby sitter, sometimes we will do a class or activity together then grab a quick bite instead of the evening being about the ceremony of a meal, as this can sometimes just send you to sleep instead of invigorating. We both do lots of activities separately, tag teaming with child care etc, but according to worldly wisdom we should ‘play together, to stay together’. So that’s the aim. We have done everything from learning French, to Bikram Yoga. I think it’s healthy to see each other in different environmental contexts, it gives a fresh perspective.
Not all activities have been successful however, so prepare for some trial and error. I once decided that we should do an acro-balance class together (I’d just been to Cirque du Soleil and imagined us acro-ing all over our wedding). I say together – him being the only muscly man in a room full of strong, flexible and competitive women didn’t make for the most romantic date. I didn’t get a look in, and he was ‘partnered’ with everyone in there. Safe to say that that activity is now firmly off the list.
Sometimes we just go for a run together, or just go to the gym. Exercise releases endorphins that make you feel good, improving your mood and increasing your libido, so it’s really healthy to be around your partner when you are having these positive feelings, and indeed when they are.
- The romantic mini-break
Okay so this is the ultimate date night/day. A night or two away, no kids, no wake up call, just the two of you. It sounds like bliss, but if I’m honest it does come with mixed emotions. I love the idea, but do seemingly have a level of attachment disorder, meaning that as much as I want to/ need to go I feel a bit anxious and guilty for the first few hours. A few reassuring check-in calls with grandma, and a strong Margarita however, and all is well.
So where to go? Well a hotel with a spa is always nice, dinner, sleep and a facial can work wonders for the soul, but quite frankly I’m not good at relaxing and like to make the most of our time and prefer to see and do as much as is physically possible in the 24/48 hours available. Our trips will often revolve around a particular attraction, maybe a fancy restaurant or concert, as from experience have learned that leaving things to chance can be risky. You don’t have to stick to the plan, and can always be wooed by something more fun when you get there if you are worried about losing spontaneity. However, you are parents now, and like it or not you have become adept at planning so take advantage of those parental skills and apply them to your relationship. Don’t leave things romantically to chance; research your destination, book lunch, dinner, the theatre, the facial, the trains – everything! That way the pressure is off, and you can just go with the flow and make the most.
My favourite spots for a romantic mini-breaks are:
- Barcelona (see The Serras)
- Cornwall (see The Scarlett)
- London (see The Ham Yard)
- Bristol (see Hotel Du Vin)
- Norfolk (see The Hoste)
- Finally, plan an adventure together
This could be the dream family holiday to Disney, a house move, a country move, or a business venture together, to be achieved by next month or in the next five years. It really doesn’t matter what it is, but to know that you are working towards something together and progressing in the same way is really important. It is also important for your own sanity to know that you can still set and achieve your own goals and ambitions. When you find yourself in a daily whir of school runs, packed lunches, tired kids, dinner, baths, and bedtime it helps to know that there is something different and exciting around the corner.
Dan is obsessed with the film ‘Chef’, and is desperate to create food truck concept and take it on the road to festivals and events around the country, so in two years that is what we are going to do. Dan’s eldest daughter will also be 16, so we thought it would be a fun way to spend the last year that we are likely to have her volunteer to be in our company. Any profit we make will go towards flights to Australia for Christmas that year to see family (another adventure on the wish list). That’s the plan at least. Whether it works out quite that way is another story. Often it’s not the destination, but the journey taken that provides the magic, and sometimes can even lead to something unexpected but even more wonderful than that which was planned. So here’s to an adventure into the unknown…
Thank you for taking the time to read.
I hope that this has entertained or inspired you in some way. I would love hear about your date night/ date day ideas, or anything that you do as parents to take that all important time-out.
Love, KOKO KALM x