Remember when it was just you and your partner and you could come and go as you pleased?
Remember when you’d just order pizza and sit and eat it with no interruptions or go for long rides and daydream about your dream house?
Remember having sex in the kitchen while you were boiling pasta as a bottle of wine sat opened on the counter and you drank the whole thing and would lie together on the sofa and doze off without having to deal with bedtime stories and monsters and being asked to explain why the moon changes shape each night?
Yeah, me too.
There are so many shifts after we become parents, but what shocked me the most was the effort it took to connect with my (then) husband. What used to feel effortless, delicious, and like second nature became work that required planning, mental energy, and being okay with making out if I had puréed apricots smeared in my hair.
Date night got freaking hard after we had a baby.
When my firstborn son was still very young, we ventured out for a walk one beautiful fall day. Despite the weather and my precious child, who I’d wanted more than anything, I felt the biggest sense of overwhelm I’d ever experienced. I was so in love with this child and couldn’t imagine my life without him, and yet…
I was missing who I was before he was born. I was missing who my husband and I were before our son crashed into our lives and stole our sleep and made me hyper-aware of absolutely everything in the world.
I already wanted some freedom back. I wanted to get in the car and drive to the grocery store to get ingredients to make steak and risotto so I could prepare a nice dinner that evening and eat my medium rare beef without having to nurse or change a diaper.
I didn’t have the energy to do it, of course. I also knew I’d have nothing left for my husband that evening, even if I tried.
Wanting to connect with my husband and feel like my own self, just for a night, not only felt impossible but made me feel a guilt I’d never felt before.
Date night doesn’t just get hard when you become a parent because you have a child who can be a cock-blocker and take all your energy. There are other hills to climb that leave you longing for days of yesteryear.
Finding good childcare is hard.
If you don’t have family that lives close, it’s not easy to find someone reliable that wants to watch your child on a weekend night. There’s no point in going out if you don’t trust the person with your child so you are able to be in the moment and actually bond without being worried and anxious to return home. It’s also incredibly expensive which is an added stressor.
Finding time feels impossible.
You need to pick a night to go out that revolves around being able to have someone care for your child. Being spontaneous has flown the coop, and let’s face it, it takes longer to get ready for a date as a parent because self-grooming has been sent to the back burner and you are playing catch up. You’re also getting interrupted every 5 minutes, and you are exhausted before you even leave the house.
It costs money that is now being spent on your child.
Having kids is expensive. There are times when the extra money you used to have to accommodate nights out is being spent on diapers, formula, a new toddler bed and a college savings account.
You no longer head out and see where the night takes you and just let your credit card do the work. You need to plan for extras and pay for the sitter — not to mention the play, concert, or dinner out.
Once all the planning is done, it feels like something always comes up.
Your child is running a fever or has a horrible cough and you don’t want to get the sitter sick or leave their side. They may cry hysterically when you are trying to get out the door and all you can think about during the movie is how you are ruining their life and they are going to have abandonment issues. Maybe the sitter cancels and you are left standing in your heels and hose, wallowing in disappointment — it’s always something.
Being a parent makes finding time to connect over a night out feel virtually impossible, and it can put a strain on your relationship.
But it also means, if you are truly craving that alone time, that you might have to get creative. Which can be fun and help you create some of your best memories as a married couple.
Put the kids to bed early and make a nice dinner for the two of you after you bake off a frozen pizza for them.
Get up a little early and share a cup of coffee together while you catch up on your favorite show.
See if a neighbor or friend who also needs childcare so they can have a date, wants to do a childcare swap. One weekend, you and your spouse watch all the kids so they can go out, then they return the favor. Less money, less stress.
If your kids go to school, take a personal day together during the week and get that pizza, have sex in the kitchen, and enjoy a day drink (or two) like old times.
Before you know it, you will feel connected again. Because sometimes, it’s in those tiny moments you connect the most. It doesn’t have to be an expensive, manufactured evening out where you wear dangly earrings and dab perfume behind your ears. Those moments can be found just as easily by sneaking into the bathroom for ten minutes with your partner after you’ve changed a diaper on a Saturday afternoon while the baby dozes off.
Date night isn’t easy after you become a parent, that’s for damn sure. But that doesn’t mean you can’t connect or shouldn’t bother putting the effort in.
In fact, it’s more important than ever to model a loving partnership for your children even if it comes in bits and pieces.
This article was originally published on