The 9 Stages of “Date Night” When You’re Married With Kids

There was a time in my life when date night was an all-day affair.

It looked something like this: I would wake up in the morning, well-rested, already in sweet anticipation of the evening to come. I’d choose a outfit, accessories and shoes from my Barbie-esque dream house magic closet where literally everything I owned fit me perfectly. Finally, I would spend hours getting ready with just the right amount of trying but not trying too hard.

Fast forward to the present. Date night with kids is a different story.

How different? Way different. With three kids and one on the way, life in general couldn’t be more different. And date night? Allow me to walk you through nine stages of a typical date night with my husband now:


1. The Realization

One day, while feeding the baby in a half-awake state while catching up on the last season of a random show on Netflix, I will realize that oh, hey — I think it’s been a few months since we’ve been out on a date. We should probably do something about that. [cue post-feeding nap time for mama and baby here]

2. The Action

A few weeks after The Realization, I will text my husband something along the lines of, “You, me, Friday?” He will text back something incredibly exciting and passionate like, “K.” I then line up a babysitter, also via text message.

3. The Giddiness

This is perhaps the most exciting stage of date night. Knowing I have a date set and a sitter lined up, I will experience a few moments of sheer happiness. Yes! We can be one of those cool and hip couples that doesn’t let children get in the way of our exciting lifestyle! We will get out! We will do things! Why don’t we do this more often?!

4. The Memory Lapse

The night before, I will remind my husband about our big date night coming up and ask him what he wants to do. He will fulfill all of my wildest romantic fantasies by demonstrating that he completely forgot about it and not bothering to try to cover it up with a statement like, “Oh, yeah. I forgot about that. Whatever you want to do.”

5. The Exhaustion

In a way that makes me think supernatural forces are involved, without fail, the night before our date our kids will not sleep well. There will be screaming. There will be sickness. I will awaken the morning of date night more exhausted than I have ever been in my entire life.

6. The Transformation

Suddenly and almost definitely related to #5, date night transforms from being something that I was once looking forward to to something that sounds decidedly like work. Not only does it mean I actually have to get ahead on the household chores, do my work at a decent hour instead of 11 o’clock at night while watching re-runs of Grey’s Anatomy, and make sure the kids are bathed and presentable, but I have to get dressed. The horror. Seriously.

7. The Wavering

Doubting whether I even want to go on a date, wondering if I will nod off into my appetizer, and realizing that I have nothing hanging in my closet that will come close to fitting my very pregnant body, I frantically text my husband: “Should I cancel the sitter? Do you even want to go? We could just watch something on Netflix?”

8. The Calculation

At this point, my inner monologue sounds something like this: OK, if we pay the sitter $10/hour and go to dinner and a movie, that’s like five hours, so $50 bucks?! Plus the cost of dinner and a movie? That’s like $100! Maybe we should just do dinner instead, I mean, what’s the point of paying to watch a movie anyways? That’s such a boring date night … when did we get so boring? What did we used to do for date night? Why are we such losers?!

9. The Decision

Much like the choose-your-own endings books I used to devour and develop mild anxiety over as a kid (the choices!), at this point, date night will go one of two ways: I will either make a very obvious excuse to the sitter and cancel our date night, breathing a sigh of relief over saving money OR I will power through my exhaustion, throw on an ill-fitting outfit from my pre-children days, and call it a date.

But whether our “date night” ends up in a Netflix marathon on separate couches or me looking away painfully as my husband pays the sitter, the result is pretty much the same:

Going through all these motions helps renew my appreciation for my husband and this life we have created together. Because in the end, I realize that I kind of like the normal nights more than the date nights now.

It also makes me appreciate stretchy, forgiving dresses that sometimes double as pajamas. Because again, #5.

Image via j&j brusie photography


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