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Regular date nights are a priority in our home. A chance to connect, kid-free, is part of what makes our relationship strong and healthy. Since no one can leave the house right now, I am digging into how to create a date night at home, for cheap!
Remember a few short months ago when everyone was whoo-hooing on New Year’s Eve, and every meme on social media suggested 2020 would be the best year ever!!! This year has been a rollercoaster, to say the least, but I still believe that it will be the best year ever. The year we come together as a global community, the year we all learn to slow down, do more with less, and connect with one another in ways that we haven’t before. This crisis will provide spectacular outcomes if we pay attention.
With all that said, however, right now, we are in it. Collectively, we are still in the space of unknown, facing daily challenges that we couldn’t even imagine a mere three months ago. But, despite being in it, I still have goals. And holy am I NOT going to let me plans for this year fall by the wayside, just because of this virus. I will not stop reaching for more in all areas of my life. And neither should you.
Right now you might feel like you haven’t had a break from your partner in weeks (because you probably haven’t). So date night doesn’t seem like it needs to be top of the to-do list. But RE-connecting, doing something fun and different together? That’s what will strengthen you and get you through the weeks and months to come, and whatever else life throws your way!
One of the goals Dan and I made for 2020 was strengthening our relationship. And to do that, we decided we would do monthly date nights. We agreed to rotate months and plan creative dates, building an element of surprise into our very structured lives.
Related: I is for Intentional Living
I was up first and had reservations to….wait! I’m not going to share that now, because when this storm passes, I’ll re-book, and I don’t want to spoil the surprise.
Needless to say, our date night got canceled. But. BUT! Just because we are staying safe by staying home does not mean we are giving up on our monthly date nights. It just means we are rethinking what date night looks like, and getting even more creative with how we do it.
The struggle is REAL
At-home date nights pose a few challenges. First, no childcare. So, you are starting your date after bedtime, which for many of you is a-okay, but in our house? We go to bed as soon as our little goes to sleep. That means we are going to have to commit to staying up later. Problem solved. OR – get up before the kids and have breakfast together. Plan something during naptime. The point is – if you have kids – you have to get creative!
Second, it is easy to phone it in. Stay in the sweatpants. Plan a fancy dinner and then eat it on the couch. Decide you are too tired and go to bed. It’s time to get intentional. When you set a date night, you’ll have to tap into your imagination a bit. You’d never head downtown for margs at the trendy Mexican grill in your sweatpants with hair that hasn’t been washed in days. So have a shower, do your hair, put on real pants.
At-Home Date Night Ideas
Now for some ideas for date night, stay-at-home style! Just because you can’t go out for dinner or a movie does not mean you can’t make some awesome memories!
Play a game
Okay, part of me wants to say that we must all be tired of playing games because I know there is a lot of that to get through the day. BUT – I will also tell you that playing crib after our son goes to bed is one of my favourite ways to reconnect with my husband.
This is a chance to take a break from Candy Land and Guess Who and play something a bit more complex and challenging. Plus, a little competition is great for connection!
Depending on your climate, you may be able to set up camp in the backyard, or maybe you are limited to the living room. But either way, setting the tent up, filling it with cozy blankets and pillows, and even a string or two of lights is a magical way to create memories, at home, for cheap!
Using the same ingredients, you can both make a different dish and then judge them and decide which you like best. Think: Chopped, but no one gets eliminated! Or divide and conquer – one makes the appetizer, and one makes the main, with ingredients the other chooses. And no googling recipes!!
Or, watch a few episodes of Nailed It on Netflix and challenge each other to recreate a surprise cookie or cake.
Pick a country, google some traditional foods, throw on a playlist from Spotify or YouTube – you’re good to go! Try your hand at homemade pasta for Italian night, or practice your sushi rolling together!
It’s all about the snacks
Like playing games, you’ve probably watched a lot of movies. But you can still create date night movie moods by going all out on the snacks and creating the right theatre vibe. Pick up some extra special treats when you get groceries, turn the lights down, and commit to no phones and no pausing!
First date flashback
Think back to your first date – where did you go? What did you do? What did you eat? Recreating it at home might take a bit of creativity, but it’s a great way to connect, for cheap, at home.
Take out – by candlelight
I’m into the movement to support local, and at this point, I’d like a break from meal prep and planning, and oh my gosh, please someone hand me the menu!
But don’t just stop at the take-out. Set the mood. It may be a while before you get to hit up your favourite restaurants for date night again, so make a bit of magic at home. Light a few candles, turn on some music and enjoy your dinner as if you were really out in the world.
Get lost in a book
This might not be for everyone, but taking turns reading to each other is an adorable, tech-free way to spend a stay at home date night! When we were first dating, Daniel couldn’t believe I hadn’t read or seen The Princess Bride – so we read it together and then watched it. You could read poetry or a novel or even a children’s book – it’s just a nice tech-free way to connect.
Make a bucket list
At this point, you might be spending 24-7 together. New things to talk about it might be a distant memory, and “how was work today” doesn’t offer much up.
Instead, how about planning for the future? Or reminiscing on the past? Grab a notebook or a piece of paper and make a list of things you would like to do together or your favourite memories!
Take a flight
Create your own flight of beer or wine tasting experience. Single cans and small bottles are often available at the liquor store. Make it realistic by pouring them into glasses and arranging them on a tray. Look up information about each brewery or winery to get authentic!
What better time to throwback to your youth than when we are stuck at home, reliving our teenage summers! This date is especially fun if it’s not something you usually do.
And even better if you have an old school system hidden away somewhere! We have a Super Nintendo, and rocking through some Mario World sounds like a great time!
“Visit” a museum
Looking for something a bit more cultural? You can currently visit many of the top museums in the world, from the comfort of your home.
Check out Google’s amazing Arts and Culture section for a peek into exhibits, libraries, monuments, and street art that will truly blow your mind!
I cannot tell you how much I am missing my massage therapist right now. But, since booking an appointment is simply not an option, it’s time to figure out the key to dealing with sore muscles at home.
This video is a good guide to some basic massage moves that will help you create a spa environment. Don’t forget to turn the lights down and add a soft instrumental playlist to set the scene.
Spend an evening looking through old photo albums, laughing at your memories and adventures from the past. Or go all the way back in time to look at pictures from when you were kids! Don’t have photo albums? How about a scroll through your cloud backups or your social media pictures!
I saved the best for last. Our favourite date night experience includes an escape room followed by a drink. And, clearly, we can’t do that during quarantine!
But! We have found ways to enjoy some of the challenges, problem-solving, and ticking-clock-adrenalin rush from the comfort of our home!
Escape Team offers several puzzles. You need to be able to print a few pages, but other than that, the only supplies you need are scissors, pens, and their app.
We’ve done the first two, which are free, and we really enjoyed them. There are four or five other puzzles, and they are only 99 cents each, so it makes this a budget-friendly date night for sure!
Another great option is the new program from Mobile Escape. They are a local (Calgary-based) team that operates mobile escape rooms that they will bring to you.
Now, since that is not an option, they have transitioned to a mail program, where they send you puzzles in the mail.
Hello?? Who doesn’t love getting mail?! I am patiently (ish) waiting for the first month’s package to arrive to see what this looks like, but I am confident it is going to be an awesome date night next week!
No matter what you do, now is the time to get intentional with your relationship. You might be on each other’s last nerve, irritated and overwhelmed. Try to find the reset button and reconnect – make date-night a priority!
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