Family Walking On Beach
I know it's important to spend time with your spouse and it's a great idea to have a regular date night. Trouble is, sometimes it just doesn't work out that way. When our kids were little a date night for us almost never meant only the two of us. We usually at least had whoever was youngest and still nursing along. We even took Marcia to the symphony with us once. She was so tiny and I just couldn't bear to leave her (she slept through the whole thing). Even now, our weekly "date afternoon" is getting a drink at Sonic and going to the library.
If you can't carve out a night to go out alone with your husband, why not organize a family date night? There are plenty of ways to have a sweet time with your husband even when you bring the kids along. We usually have family dates about once a month and I have to take the time to think about it and plant it. If I don't plan it, it won't happen. Life gets busy, the kids have activities, and the weeks slip away so quickly.
For me, the keys to a successful family date night are:
A fun date for us almost always includes a good meal. Good as in "nothing the kids hate and are going to gripe about". No trying out a new Brussels sprout recipe on date night. :) It helps the date along when everyone is happy with the menu. My husband and kids ALL are happy when I make homemade pizza or pasta and Italian meat sauce.
Make the meal part of the date night fun. Spread a quilt in front of the fire, eat outside on the trampoline, or get out the fine china and damask napkins and eat by candlelight.
You can also have the food reflect the theme of the night. You could have a fiesta night and serve tacos or enchiladas, or a 50s night and serve diner style shakes and hamburgers (play some 50s music to go along with it). The possibilities are endless.
Games: Games can be a great budget friendly part of date night. Two of our favorites are Spoons and Sardines. They are both great games for all ages and any number of people.
Spoons: Set out one less spoon than the number of players in the middle of the table. One person is the dealer and deals out 4 cards to every player. He then passes cards around the table. Everyone looks through the cards and tries to get 4 of a kind. The first one to do so quietly grabs a spoon. The rest of the group grabs spoons as quickly as possible and the one left without a spoon looses the hand. This can get wild so don't have any cups or glasses on the table while you play. We've learned the hard way. :)
Sardines: There are lots of ways to play this game, but our favorite is to start outside. We turn off all the lights in the house and then "it" goes inside to hide. Count to 50 (or whatever you decide) and then split up and try to find "it". When you do, you hide with him and so does the next person and so on until only one person is left who gets to be "it" next time. One time there were 6 of us squished together and giggling in the shower. It was so much fun! Little ones can hide with an older sibling.
Around town: Get a visitor's guide for your town. We found lots of ideas for free and cheap things to do in our town. We found out about a free Italian landscape exhibit in our visitor's guide that we otherwise wouldn't have known about.
Movies: Rent a new release for $1 at Redbox (or even get it free with you sign up to get free codes every Monday), or check out a movie from the library. It's also lots of fun to get out the home movies. My kids love to see themselves as babies. Or show the kids your wedding video/ pictures and tell them how you met. Our kids love to hear the story of how I spilled my dinner down the front of my sweater on my first date with their dad. :)
3) Keep your ideas organized:
As you come across fun recipes, places to visit or ideas for your date night (family or otherwise) keep them organized. Make a folder, a section in your notebook or use the fun new date night planner at Springpad. Make sure you don't find yourself thinking "now what was that fun idea I was going to use this weekend?" :)
Related post: Frugal Valentine's Day