As we know, kids change everything. This includes the whole dating game with the spouse.
Now that I think about it, dating before kids should just be called partying because that’s what it feels like in hindsight. My husband and I still make time for dating, but these days a night out doesn’t remotely resemble “partying.” Things are drastically different. Here’s a breakdown of a date night, pre-kids and with kids:
Pre-Kids: every night
With Kids: maybe once a month
Pre-Kids: Take my time. Have perfectly shaved legs, perfect outfit with matching jewelry and high heels, and perfect makeup, and I’m ready in time to chill for 10 minutes.
With Kids: Get ready in between feeding kids dinner and taking a shower with two toddlers. I miss half my leg shaving. I can’t find my jewelry (oh, my daughter is wearing it). Kids start asking why I’m getting “beautiful” and why I’m not in my pajamas. Baby starts getting clingy. I try to put my makeup on while my daughter asks to use it 100 times, then takes one of my brushes and makes me search for it for 10 minutes. I end up forgetting to put on jewelry. I’m not sure about this outfit, but it will have to do. I nonchalantly give the kids hugs and kisses, like nothing is happening, then sneak out of the house while Grammy is reading them a book.
Pre-Kids: Where should we go? I feel like we’ve been everywhere! I don’t want to go there, we just went there. I don’t feel like Mexican—how about a good steak? No, we just had steaks. Oh, I don’t know! Well I’m not driving anymore until we figure out where to go! I wish there were some new restaurants.
With Kids: We know exactly were we want to go because we have a list of restaurants we must go to, and early reservations are set. I’ve already been drooling over the menu for a week and know exactly what we’re ordering! If it’s not a specifically planned date night, it’s a business dinner or blog-related event that forces us to get out without the kids. (We ain’t mad about that!)
Pre-Kids: Order drinks, order dinner, and eat dinner in peace (totally taking it for granted). What should we do afterward? I wonder what bar we’ll end up at tonight—where is everyone else going?
With Kids: I feel like we’re royalty getting valet at a fancy restaurant. I find the quiet restaurant a little eerie. We order dinner and drinks (if not currently pregnant), then eat dinner as slowly as possible, savoring every bite and casually looking over our shoulders, making sure there’s not a toddler hand about to grab our forks to “ask” for a bite. We talk about the funny thing the kids did that day and wonder what they’re doing right now. They are probably driving Grammy and G-pa crazy. That cracks us up. Grammy texts a picture of the kids doing something funny. Aw! We miss them! Maybe we shouldn’t go out for drinks afterward? OK, just one.
Pre-Kids: We arrive at the bar after dinner with no worries in the world. Slamming drinks and shots (for no reason) and dancing around! We should go check out this new place because I wanna dance! Off to bar No. 3 of the night!
With Kids: Halfway through our first drink at the bar, we start to worry about how the kids are doing. We should probably start heading home because it’s getting late! (Look at watch and sees it’s only 10 p.m.). Ok, one more drink; it is a birthday celebration after all.
Pre-Kids: Head home at 3 to 4 a.m. after everything has closed and hit up the drive-thru at McDonald’s or Steak ‘n Shake. We throw ourselves into bed and sleep soundly, totally taking this for granted.
With Kids: Come home right before midnight and feeling like we’ve been gone for ages. It’s a toss-up whether kids are still awake or not. We sneak into bed. The 4-year-old wakes up asking where we’ve been, who we were with, and what we did. We snuggle up to our kids because we missed them so.
The Next Day
Pre-Kids: Wake up the next day wondering where we should all hang out for the football game. So ready for wings and beer!
With Kids: Wake up way too early the next day feeling like we got hit by a bus. We only had a couple drinks and were in bed by 12:30 a.m.—how can this be?! Can we just stay in bed all day? Nope, our daughter has soccer practice at 8 a.m.
Dating is such an important part of being married, with or without kids. It becomes a lot harder to get a date night in once kids are in the picture, and they may be few and far between, but that’s when I try to make it more of a priority. Sometimes we might even have to consider a 20-minute car ride with the kids sleeping in the back seat a “date.”
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