Date nights offer a welcome respite from the daily grind of being parents so mom and dad can take a little time to be not mom and dad. However, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut where you either aren’t making the time, don’t have the time, or feel like you aren’t using that precious time as well as the two of you could be.
And to be honest, sometimes the funds just aren’t there.
We’ve all felt that pull to spend money we don’t have on the person we love in the hopes that we can make them smile or share some memories together. A recent Facebook post by Demez White highlighted this predicament and the creative, thoughtful way he decided to give his girlfriend a much-needed night out even though cash flow was light. Spending quality time with your favorite person doesn’t have to be a choice between lasting memories and an empty wallet. Here are some ideas:
1. At-Home Game Night
This is a great option for anyone who doesn’t have the resources, be it a willing grandparent in close proximity or extra cash for a sitter. One of you can put the kids to bed while the other one runs to pick up carryout. Meet back in the living room after bedtime with a bag full of tacos and a board game and you can spend the night trying to kick the crap out of each other at your favorite game. Scrabble is a personal favorite of mine, but games like Settlers Of Catan or Codenames are a lot of fun too. Or if you’d really like to test the strength of your relationship, you could break out Monopoly.
2. Outdoor Adventures
Rent kayaks. Map out a hike. Grab binoculars and try bird watching. Do any number of things that you don’t normally make time for because your experience outdoors has been limited to youth soccer games or yard work for way too long. Spending all that time outside is a great precursor to going for ice cream afterward too. Spring for that waffle cone because YOLO, as the kids say.
3. A Tiny Road Trip
Scour Yelp, Facebook, or word-of-mouth recommendations to find the best grub within an hour or two of your home. My husband and I make the occasional pilgrimage about two hours away for the best hot dogs either of us has ever tasted. We take the scenic route, talk, or listen to music or podcasts in the car, then sit down to a platter of fries and wieners before ordering milkshakes for the road and heading home. It is worth the drive every time.
4. Starbucks and Stargazing
Take the love of your life to visit the other love of your life, your barista. Grab some caffeine for some after-dark energy, then head to your local observatory. Lots of community colleges have one or at least offer use of some pretty fancy telescopes. Spend the night sipping coffee and searching the skies for constellations and planets and the occasional Russian satellite tracking your every move.
5. Climb Some Rocks
Nothing says “I trust you” like handing your partner a rope and asking them not to let you fall on your ass from above. Indoor rock climbing facilities offer beginner classes where you can both learn how to belay (hold that rope) along with several kinds of walls for varying skill levels.
6. Hit Up a Museum
Many museums, be they science, history, or art, offer admission at not too steep of a cost. Some are free. Spend the day wandering around, hand in hand, discussing paintings or absorbing history. And if you’re in a science museum and are given the opportunity to touch one of those electric ball things that make all your hair stand up? Touch that ball.
7. Beers and S’mores
Another fun option when you’ve gotta stay home. Stop by your local booze emporium and see if they’ll let you put together a variety six-pack, then ask for recommendations on local brews. Once the kids are in bed, head outside, and enjoy a small fire while you both sample the beers you brought home. Finish off the night by roasting marshmallows and making s’mores. If outside isn’t an option, you can make ‘smores inside over a Sterno can or in the oven. They’re still delicious.
8. Take in a Show
Your local theater company, community college, or even high school is likely putting on a play. Sometimes, the quality will surprise you! This is a great way to see a musical you’ve memorized the original cast recording to without dropping Hamilton-levels of dough. And you can both come out feeling like cultured supporters of the arts.
9. Trivia Night
Look up which bars or restaurants in your area host trivia contests and spend an evening finally putting to use his knowledge of geography and your ability to name every president in order. You may surprise each other by knowing a few obscure factoids. Just make sure you decide on a good team name ahead of time. Use puns. Trivia team names are very important.
10. Foot Massages and a Movie
Rent something you missed in theaters or pop in an old favorite while you both settle in for a movie free of animation and wimpy kids. Sit on opposite ends of the couch and rub each other’s feet with that lotion you never remember to use so you can both relax.
There is nothing wrong with going to the same restaurant once a month or having traditions and routines. But throwing in something new can be a fun way to liven things up and spark conversation in your relationship while making a few memories in the process. At the end of the day, the most important part is that whole making time for your relationship thing. Now go out there and date the hell outta your spouse!
This article was originally published on