Relationships take work and they need to be invested in. We often fail to make our relationship a priority when faced with the many aspects of parenting along with limited energy and resources. It occurs to me that although my husband and I have tons of fun in the passing moments, great snippets of conversation while multi tasking, and brief gestures of romance—like an extended hug with a little one pushing in between us—we find it hard to set aside time to properly touch base and share with one another.
When I work with clients who have difficulty making time for themselves I have them to make a self care list so that when they are needing a bit of me time, they have easy and accessible ideas at the ready. A list for couple time can work too. Especially when needing some fresh ideas as it is often easier to pull out the fail safe dinner and a movie. Although this can be nice in a pinch; it is important to find dates that inspire connection.
To get you started here are five movie-inspired movie-less dates to put on your list to help you and your partner:
A Walk to Remember: Take a forest bath! In Japan forest bathing, called Shinrin-yoku is a recognized relaxation technique. Ever wonder why a walk in the forest seems something more than scenic? Its benefits also include aromatherapeutic attributes as the forest provides the added stress reliever of breathing in the essential wood oils. So grab your partner, and schedule a daytime babysitter to take in the exercise, sights and smells. Walk, talk and connect!
The Reader: Gold has been struck when my husband and I find a TV series we BOTH enjoy. It is fun to talk about the characters, the plot twists, and the cliff hangers. As fun as it is, I certainly wouldn't suggest you watch TV with your partner as a way to really connect. Nor, would I guess that this would be a huge breakaway date night for most of us. If you enjoy being surprised by a story or falling in love with characters with your mate,why not try reading together. You could take turns reading out loud to each other, but if you are like me you might be at your max with this pleasure with Dr. Seuss and your kids nightly. However, you could plan to read a book and have an upcoming date night set aside to discuss. At my book club nights with girlfriends, it's interesting to hear what perspectives others take. The same can be true when revealing thoughts with your partner. Goodreads even has a couple's book choice list. Reading might just be the twist you need in your own romantic plot.
A League of Their Own: Get together and work up a sweat... the other kind. As a busy mom, finding time to exercise can be difficult, let alone getting a date night organized for the same week. Consider making this a fun combination, join a team together, head out for a run, do a workout dvd or go to a fitness class, especially one that offers child care. You will bond on the common goal, the rush of endorphins and the healthy achievement.
The Bucket List: Why not order in and plan a big list of activities on one evening by creating a bucket list for the year. It helps you dream up fun future activities and encourages discussion as you get to know a little about what your partner and you would like to pursue, individually, as a couple and as a family.
Kitchen Stories: Even corporations are taking team building to the counter. To build up your team of two why not prep and create a meal in. Plan a fun menu for the night, shop together for the items and then come home and prepare. Cooking as a couple can bring you together with creativity, problem solving and the satisfaction of making and enjoying a good meal. So plan some courses and while you are working open a bottle of wine with a great playlist in the background. Impromptu dancing is not only allowed, it is encouraged. I recently read about a couple from Connecticut who celebrated their 81st wedding anniversary last November They were quoted as liking to cook together. Perhaps a secret ingredient of their success?
Finding the time and energy to date is hard so it is even more important that when you do make a date night happen you aren't wasting an opportunity but rather thinking strategically about how to best maximize your limited time together. Plan opportunities that will enable connection and contribute to your relationship.
What date nights events have you had that have provided you and your partner the most connection?