a year of date nights.

a year of dates-1After you have a baby, the general idea of “date night” changes, and I mean that (nicely) in every way possible. Date nights used to be spontaneous, affordable, and revolve around conversations that didn’t include Thomas the train and questions like, “On a scale from 1-10, exactly how runny was the poop?”

Things are different now, and it’s okay that they’re different, but let me be clear: THEY ARE DIFFERENT. 2013 was our first full year as parents, and with that year came a lot of change, a lot of shifts, a lot of readjusting our priorities and expectations.

Last year I learned that it’s incredibly easy to let your marriage sink down to the bottom of the priority list when you have a needy toddler in tow.

It was, to be quite frank, not the best year our marriage has seen.

But that’s the beautiful thing about hope and a new year, right? You take what didn’t work in 2013, and you fix it in 2014. For us, that was date night. Last year we could go weeks on end, months even, without a single date night. There were always a hundred excuses: we were tired, our babysitter wasn’t available, we couldn’t agree on what night or what restaurant, we were still tired, we didn’t really feel like it, the month was too busy, blah blah blah.

I was determined to change this in 2014—for the betterment of our marriage, for the betterment of our parenting, and for the general betterment of our individual selves.

Because I believe in date nights.

I believe in setting aside time to focus on each other without a baby in the room. I believe in making time for baby-free conversations, for red lipstick, for dinners that don’t involve grilled cheese and sippy cups. I believe in making room for dreaming together, for laughing together, for telling secrets and holding hands. I believe in showing your children on a regular basis that your marriage is important, and a force not to be reckoned with.

I want Everett to see us go on dates, to see us kiss and wrap our arms around each other. I want him to see us get dressed up and leave the house together with smiles on our faces. I want him to witness our marriage as a separate entity from him.

I want Everett to know that as much as we love him, we loved each other first.

Because of this, because of All These Feelings, I decided to make a year-long commitment to date night. For Christmas, I gifted Brett with A Year of Dates—one planned date night per month in 2014. We’re going to take a painting class and go to a basketball game and see movies and go bowling and learn how to swing dance and go rock climbing and eat corndogs at the state fair. WE’RE DOING IT. ALL OF IT. In 2014.

We are taking back date night.

It’s not too late to join us. We’re only ten days into January and there is plenty of time to plan your year of dates. Can’t afford a babysitter? Ask grandparents or trade babysitting with friends. Can’t afford fancy dates? Plan non-fancy ones instead. Whatever your excuse is, I can assure you: making time for your marriage is always energy (and money) well spent.

Here’s to quality time, a little bit of romance, and maybe even some good ole fashioned making out in 2014!

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27 Responses to a year of date nights.

  1. Now THAT is a sweet idea! I just emailed it to my hubby and told him that he might be getting this for Christmas next year. We’re in the middle of a HUGE move from Sicily to Coronado in July, but hopefully by December I’ll know all the fun stuff to do around San Diego and will be able to promise him some wonderful nights out on the town!
    Becca :: Making Room in Sicily´s last blog post ..our first getaway without the kids!

  2. A says:

    I loooove this post and this idea. It’s so honest. Sometimes as moms we put our children above ourselves and everything, but we need to remember that our marriage requires a lot of love as well. Thanks for the reminder

  3. suzy says:

    this is one thing in our marriage that we have protected fiercely since day one. every wednesday night is date night and i could count on one hand the number of date nights we’ve missed since getting married four and a half years ago. i know it’ll be harder to do when the baby comes, but i plan on fighting for it. too important. :)
    suzy´s last blog post ..{somebody’s baby}

  4. Bekah says:

    Ashlee, this is perfect! Right now, our date nights usually involve a conversation about who wants what for dinner my husband is King of I-Don’t-Care Land :) – so I love the idea of planning details ahead of time. Our first baby is due in eight weeks, and this is something we’ve been discussing and even worrying about already. How is there time for all of it? I guess you always have time to do the things you really want to do. Thanks for the inspiration!
    Bekah´s last blog post ..California: Highway 1

  5. Bridget says:

    As someone who lives in the Sacramento area, it is awesome to see your actual date night ideas. My hubby and I have done weekly date nights since our son was three months old. We are always looking for ideas. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Sarabell says:

    I love it! We just moved to a new town so of course have no babysitter. One of my goals for 2014 is to make a friend to swap babysitting nights with. Bring on the date nights!

  7. Holly says:

    I love this idea :) We don’t even have kids yet but sometimes we get so caught up in our busy lives that we forget to take time out to celebrate “us”.

    I really love that you and Brett want Everett to see you get ready, go out, celebrate your marriage, etc. I’m 31 and I can still remember my parents getting ready to go out on dates when my sister and I were little. They always made time for each other – and to double date with friends. It really sets a good example.
    Holly´s last blog post ..A new year

  8. Natalie says:

    I seriously love this. What a perfect Christmas present. My husband and I aren’t really into “stuff”, so instead of giving each other presents on Christmas and birthdays, we treat ourselves to “experiences” like weekends away or day trips or fun dinners.

    We don’t have a baby yet, so have lots of time for dates. But I definitely want to do more “fancy” dates where I get dressed up and do my hair and makeup just for him. Rather than just heading out to sushi and the movies in jeans and a sweatshirt.

    Thanks for the inspiration! Happy romantic 2014 to you and Brett : )
    Natalie´s last blog post ..Easy Homemade Garlic Bread

  9. Ashley says:

    Great post! My husband and I are new to Sacramento and struggling for date ideas in a new city. I love all of these ideas! Would love to see more of them ! Thanks so much for sharing!

  10. Gina says:

    Aww I love this idea! My husband and I go on weekly/bi-weekly date nights, but I’m sure that’s all going to change once we have a little one in a few years. I’m definitely bookmarking this post for when that time comes.

    Also, I’ve been swing dancing in Sacramento for years! Midtown Stomp is the biggest swing dance venue in Sac and a great place to take classes at: http://midtownstomp.com/
    Gina´s last blog post ..{Currently} January

  11. Oh that is such a sweet idea! I agree, it becomes increasingly difficult to be “spontaneous and romantic” when there’s a baby involved! I did a date coupon book from datevitation for my hubby for christmas to hopefully spark some more date nights and fun times this year!
    Margarita @ West Coast Mama´s last blog post ..New York State of Mind

  12. Holly says:

    I love this :) My husband and I used to do date nights every other week, but that changed when we had kids. We SAY we’re going to do date nights one a month but in all actuality we’re doing well if we go out two or three times a year! I think I’ll use your idea as a gift for Nathan’s birthday at the end of the month :)
    Holly´s last blog post ..Christmas Card Books

  13. julie says:

    Yes date night are saving my marriage still after so many years . I also think that once the kids are gone, we still need to have that communication lol. Even doing the mundane things is still a date . Yeah for taking back the year. Hugs
    julie´s last blog post ..Rome Book Review

  14. LOVE this! It was our first year as parents too and I TOTALLY GET date night now. Thanks for the inspiration and the great reminder :)
    Robin @ The Balanced Life´s last blog post ..: The Balanced Life : A Pilates-inspired lifestyle with Robin Long

  15. Ana says:

    I love your ideas! We don’t have kids yet, but we are homebodies and tend to just stay in. Date nights are definitely one of our priorities in 2014!
    Ana´s last blog post ..twenty-fourteen

  16. Ashlee Chu says:

    Wonderful! Glad I am not alone in this.

    I actually began the same thing. Maybe not specific dates (just yet) but my list and a fun way of sharing them will come to life soon. Thanks for sharing these sweet hopes and goals for 2014!

  17. michelle says:

    Fantastic idea, and I love how you brought it to fruition instead of letting it hang in the air as merely an idea. Bravo! Think we’ll try and adapt a similar concept in Seattle.
    michelle´s last blog post ..6 Years of Blogging

  18. Josie says:

    It’s so easy to put your relationship last with kids especially when you’re just so knackered. We put off date nights too but when we do them they’re always so good we say we should do them more. Must do them more!
    Josie´s last blog post ..Sleep training a toddler without controlled crying

  19. Michelle says:

    Ashlee- what a fun idea! We are still in that newborn-if-we-eat-dinner-at-the-same-time-it-feels-like-a-date stage : ) Buuut….I am hopefully that we’ll get to the going out again on a regular basis.
    Michelle´s last blog post ..2014: The Little Things

  20. susan says:

    This is perfect-I just blogged about the very same topic! We have toddler twins so date nights are a rarity! It’s great to discover your space…hello! ;)

  21. Marie says:

    We are doing something similar. Last year was our first year of marriage and boy was it tough. We faced the loss of my father, illness of family members, my own illness, work stress…I only made it through the year in one piece thanks to God and my husband.

    I have been thinking that this year is a fresh start and we need to have more FUN! We have a list of restaurants, parks, and other activities in our area. We’ve already done two and we’re just a couple weeks into the year. :-)

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  23. Lianne says:

    This is an AMAZING idea and I’m so inspired to throw together something of my own like this for my man :)

    Thanks for sharing bits of your life and encouraging us fellow mommas/wives along the way!

    xo-lianne
    lulabelleblog.com

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  27. Beth Smith says:

    Now that it’s 2014 and near September, how are the date nights going? Have you stuck to your commitment?
    Can’t wait to hear!

    Yep I just found your blog and absolutely love it and am going through and reading it and falling even more in love with the blog! THank yoU!!!

    -B

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