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Take the Day Off: Dates Don't Have to be Perfect to be Worth It
During the height of the pandemic, my husband and I made a pact: When the world reopened, we would actually go out on dates.
Since our first kid entered the picture seven years ago, we have only enjoyed a handful of evenings together as a couple. We live in New York City, yet we rarely enjoy the panoply of delights the city has to offer.
To be frank, it doesn’t feel like a worthy investment. Date nights don’t run cheap in a city where the average hourly rate for a babysitter is just under $25. Factor in dinner, drinks, theater tickets and taxi rides, and a night on the town can easily cost $400 or more.
It’s not just New York where date nights can rack up quite a tab. Earlier this year, the Wall Street Journal reported that teen babysitters in some areas are now charging $30 an hour. The cost of dining out continues to increase, too.
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Then there’s the headache of planning a perfect date: booking the sitter, snagging a restaurant reservation, buying the concert tickets, and booking a second sitter after the first one inevitably backs out. When you’re already overwhelmed as a working parent, it’s hard to justify the hassle.
We aren’t alone in our antipathy towards planning one-on-one time. The average parent hasn’t been on a romantic date in more than three years, according to a 2021 poll of 2,000 parents of school-aged children.
But when a party we’d planned to attend was canceled at the last minute, we had another epiphany: Date nights don’t have to be perfect to be worth it. Since we’d already booked a sitter, we took the opportunity to try a cozy new restaurant nearby. Then we meandered around our neighborhood, holding hands under the city’s glowing lights. It was a simple, magical evening.
And it was necessary. Like most working parents, our relationship takes a back seat to everything else in our lives—our kids, our home, our careers. But research shows that couples who go on regular dates have better communication and fewer conflicts. A University of Virginia study found that husbands and wives who spent time together as a couple at least once a week were approximately 3.5 times more likely to report being “very happy” in their marriages, compared to those who enjoyed less quality time with their spouse.
Spending quality time together is essential for maintaining a relationship that will last long after the kids have grown up and moved away, but you don’t have to plan an elaborate evening to rekindle your romance. We asked the experts at Splendid Spoon—who know a little something about smart solutions for busy professionals—for ideas to help couples reconnect. I love these suggestions, below:
5 Creative Ways to Reconnect With Your Partner
Have a date-night-worthy meal.
Dinner doesn’t have to be extravagant to be special. Pick a recipe you’ve both been eyeing—check your messages to see ones you’ve sent each other for inspo! Or you can skip the cooking altogether. Order something in, or try a Splendid Spoon Dish for a homecooked-for-you meal, so you can focus on what’s more important—spending time together.
Try a game night.
Reconnect with your inner child after the kids head to bed with a good old-fashioned game night. Break out the UNO deck or your favorite board game for a bit of competition. Or, you can try a video game where both players complete objectives together to bring you closer to your partner. There’s nothing better than being on the same team.
Use PTO or flexible work schedules to go on a day date!
While the little ones are in school, take a bit of time away from work to connect. Meet for coffee, or take the entire day off to spend time together. Head to a museum, or have lunch at a new restaurant you’ve been wanting to try.
Get moving together.
Try going on a walk in the neighborhood, at a local park, or hike a local trail. You can also sign up for a group exercise class together, in person or online right at home! There’s nothing better than a workout buddy to keep you motivated, and you may feel closer after encouraging one another in class.
Try a paint-and-sip night.
Get creative together! While not everyone is super artsy, it’s fun to get out of your comfort zone and try something new. Break out the art supplies, find something you’d like to paint (there’s lots of paint and sip inspiration and step-by-step videos and instructions online), pour a glass of your favorite bevvy and get creative! Studies show that art and expression can help reduce anxiety and stress, a great benefit of giving something new a try.
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