When is the last time you went out on a date? (Let’s define a date. A date is when you spend time with a partner, friend, and/or family member who allows for you to get some time away from the kids to take care of yourself and nurture the relationship.) Yes, Valentine’s Day can count. However, when is the last time you had a date night before V-day? Date nights are essential to getting some alone time, away from the kids, to connect with your loved one.
There are two challenges that parents often face: overcoming exhaustion and finding a babysitter. You are exhausted all the time. You have to get the children ready for school, get ready for classes yourself, pay attention to a very dry lecture, skim about 200 pages worth of readings, get potentially resistant kids to sleep, and then make time for your loved ones. By the time you want to spend with them, you may end up like this:
Sound about right?
The second challenge is finding a babysitter. You have to find someone reliable, be able to afford that person, and then prepare for their arrival. Most student parents depend on friends—other college students who are non-parents. Sometimes, it does not go as planned because their schedules can be chaotic as well.
However, date night is still important. It allows you to practice self-care and gives you a break to refresh and recharge for parental duties and student life. Even though date night can be tough to plan, here are some examples of dates to spend some time away from, hopefully not talking about, the kids.
- Read a book together: After getting the kiddos to sleep and staying away from your textbooks, find a good book you and your loved one both enjoy that can be an escape to another world. Snuggle together and eat some not-so-healthy snacks.
- Day Date: Find a cheap hotel during the day and book it for three to four hours. This may be a little expensive, but using discount sites can help you find cheap hotels. You can bring fruit, cheese, and chocolate from home to enjoy at the hotel, or you can kick your feet up and watch Netflix in a childless environment.
- Exercise together: Everyone needs to exercise so it’ll be even better if you do it together! It is a great way to stay active and de-stress. Exercising releases chemicals called endorphins that make you feel good—as good as taking morphine. Share a protein shake afterwards or a not-so-healthy snack to expand the time you spend together.
- Go to a dollar store: Find each other $5 gifts at the dollar. This allows you to be creative and have fun—for cheap! There are all sorts of silly things in a dollar store to entertain you and your loved one.
- Get some coffee and dessert: Coffee is a gift from the universe, making life a little easier. If you can find space in a coffee shop such as the Daily Grind, Starbucks, or Panera, get some coffee and talk to each other (not about your kid). If the weather is nice (and not going through all four seasons in one day), you can stay outside, enjoy the weather, and enjoy each other’s company.
- Invite them to a class: This may not be a preferred date night, but if you are taking a class that you find interesting, invite them to a class to share your experience as a student. They can get a glimpse of the topics that you are passionate about. Or you can invite them to a class that you need their assistance staying awake. Either way, you can enjoy time together and move on to a coffee date to discuss what you have learned and its importance to you.
There are community organizations that sponsor “Parents’ Night Out” programs. For example, the Chapel Hill – Carrboro YMCA plans activities designed for kids to entertain and interact with other children while their parents have a night out. Find some awesome information here.