Eric and I have become experts in the at-home date night. After having our daughter, over six years ago, we quickly discovered our ability to go out for date nights was a thing of the past. At the time, we did not have a lot of family members who lived close by other than my in-laws. My mother in law retired to take care of our little girl while we both worked during the week; asking her for more of her time on the weekends just didn’t feel right. As a result, we became more creative in finding ways to “date” at home.
Why is dating important
A 2016 study done by the Marriage Foundation found that routine date nights strengthen and reinforce stability in a relationship. The study analyzed data on 9,969 couples. Researchers compared how often couples went out together when their child was nine months old to when their child was eleven years old. While this seems to logically make sense, it never hurts to have scientific proof! The more effort you put into a relationship, whether it’s a friendship or intimate relationship, the more you will get out of said relationship. Throughout the almost 10 years of my marriage, I’ve learned that a good marriage takes effort and a lot of communication. To receive love, you have to give love.
What Makes a great at home date
Ultimately the purpose of dating is to strengthen your relationship. A basic date just checks the box to say that you spent time together. A quality date is meant to reinforce your connection and enhance your bond with your significant other. While I love to binge watch television shows with my spouse, I know this is not truly a good use of our date nights. We may feel productive and be able to discuss the show, but true connection takes more than sitting less than 6 feet apart.
In addition to dates there are little things that you can do throughout the day to increase the connection between you and your loved one. Some of my favorites from Psychology Today’s article on “30 Second Ways to Connect with your Spouse” include:
- Showing gratitude and appreciation for something they did for you.
- Daily touch whether it’s a kiss or an extended hug.
- Turn off electronics and have open ended discussions (ending the “how was your day syndrome”)
- Flirt – Which when was the last time you did this?
- Have a good laugh
I have to say, the way my husband and I connect the most is through laughter. We love to make each other laugh and share in great memories. My husband’s ability to make me laugh was one of the top reasons I fell in love with him so long ago.
Making Home a Great Date Night Spot
Since having kids resulted in us spending less money on vacations and going out to eat as often, we saved the money to renovate our home. P.S. If you are one of those families who can take your small children out to eat at a restaurant without chaos, consider yourself one of the lucky ones.
We have made spaces in our home more enjoyable and functional. For several years now, we have completed home projects with the intent to make our home the most inviting and enjoyable space. Prior to having children, we loved hosting parties in our home. Making our home a host-worthy spot also resulted in making it a great date night location as well.
Now, I still believe it’s so important to get away from home and change up the scenery, but all of our renovations have truly come in handy this past year when we were required to stay at home due to the pandemic. Consider this when you are doing future home projects. Find spaces in your home that can serve as a great date night space.
Who doesn’t dinner by the fire and under the stars? We would always choose the patio seating in a restaurant when given the chance and good weather. As a result, we knew that having a welcoming outdoor space was important for us.
We strategically planned and created 3 outdoor spaces to enjoy and also entertain friends and family:
1.) A deck with a comfy sofa and gas fire pit surrounded by recessed lighting along the deck railing.
2. ) Hot tub – enough said.
3.) Paver patio with comfy chairs, wood-burning fire pit, and an outdoor tv.
Lighting is key to setting the mood for your at-home date. The romantic restaurants always have dimly lit spaces with the candles glowing. Do you have dimmers in your kitchen or eating space? We got rid of our dining table awhile back to make room for the kids and haven’t looked back. Our kitchen is now our eating space where we have a variety of lighting. The combination of recessed, lanterns, and under/over cabinet lighting makes for a great combination for an at romantic chill vibe.
Find a great playlist for your at-home date. Do you play music often in your home? Music can set the mood for anything. Whether it’s a coffeehouse acoustic playlist or a romantic jazz playlist; the possibilities are endless. Find what soothes you and your significant other’s soul and go for it. Don’t go through the hassle of finding your own songs for a playlist, unless that is your thing. Simplify the process by using music subscriptions like Spotify, Apple Music, and Pandora. Many of the providers have free versions including great playlists.
Let’s go back to kindergarten and use our five senses. We’ve hit sight (lighting), hear (music), and now we’ve reached smell (scent). The more senses that are engaged, the more magical the experience will be. Find a candle to fit the mood or an overall favorite scent. My husband and I are Fall loving individuals. I am hooked on this one candle I bought from Target a long time ago that has the bonfire smell. It reminds us both of being outside by the fire, with the crisp Autumn air. I light that candle, even in the summer sometimes, just to reminisce. It always brings me back to fond memories outside in the Fall.
This is the key to a great at-home date; or any date for that matter. What are activities that you can do to build and strengthen your relationship? Find an activity that is engaging. Passive activities like watching television, or just eating dinner are not enough. Here are a list of ideas:
- Make a meal or desert together; choose the menu together so both parties are engaged.
- You could really make this fun by making it a cooking challenge like on the Food Network.
- You could also do themed meals like a meal based on where you want to travel next.
- Play an old school board game or card game; get those competitive juices flowing!
- Setup a spa atmosphere and enjoy an at-home retreat; pull out those comfy robes, some DIY spa face masks, and diffuse relaxing essential oil scents. You could even give each other massages.
- Have a picnic either in your yard or in your living room. Don’t forget the blanket!
- Make something together; there are lots of at-home kits like:
- Date Night Questions (engaging questions to discuss over dinner
- Here is Psychology Today’s 29 Questions to Deepen Your Connection
- Prioritize meaningful sex – it’s simple enough; being intimate creates connection
- Go for a walk around the neighborhood or a nearby park (babysitter permitting)
- Watch the sunset or sunrise (depending on if you are a morning or night person)
- Have a wine or beer tasting in your backyard (don’t forget the charcuterie board!)
- Roast marshmallows over a fire (fire pit or fireplace!)
- Read a book to each other and discuss. There is something magical about intently listening to your loved one.
- Get dressed up and dance in your living room to your favorite music.
There is an endless list of creative ideas to make your at-home date enjoyable. Find what resonates with you and your significant other and make it happen.
When to at-Home date
The timing depends on what works best for your family. Here are some ideas:
- Can you slip away for an outdoor coffee with your significant other while the kids are watching Saturday morning cartoons?
- What about dinner outside in your outdoor space after the kids are in bed?
- Can you have a family member watch your children while you and your significant other go out for a walk around the neighborhood?
Your at-home date does not need to be hours long. Find even a few minutes to get away, reconnect, and focus on each other. It’s not about quantity but the quality time.
Deciding what to do
Do you get decision fatigue? Did you know that we as humans make over 35,000 decisions a day? From the clothes we wear, what we eat, how to drive to work, you name it. That’s a lot of choices! As a result, the hardest part of date night sometimes is the planning. This means figuring out the day, finding a babysitter (if kids), deciding what to eat or where to eat, among other limitations.
Here are some ideas to make the decision making process easier:
- Have a jar of popsicle sticks that include a date night idea. Pick one popsicle stick a few days in advance to make a decision. This takes some planning but make your date night ideas simple or else you will avoid your jar of date night ideas.
- Keep a list on your phone or a piece of paper for you to refer to and pick an at-home date night idea. Eric and I are big users of AnyList a shareable list phone application. Not only does it make grocery shopping easier but it also is a great place to store those brain dump ideas. It also works with Alexa and Siri which is a huge plus in our smart techy family.
- Using a family calendar, schedule out the date nights as part of your monthly planning routine. If you pencil in those date nights, they are more likely to happen.
What will do you for your next at-home date?
Don’t forget about the kids and check out my easy Valentine’s Day crafts to do with them. Even if it’s not Valentine’s Day; who doesn’t love a good heart themed craft!