Date Nights for the Win!

date nights for working momsHere’s a fun topic for today: how often do you get date nights with your spouse? Is it a regular event or an “as available” kind of thing? How fancy do you get for your date nights? Do you have any tips for new working moms about date nights?

For my $.02: We try to do a date night once every two weeks — where possible we have family babysit the kids, because otherwise it can feel pretty expensive just to leave the house (if the babysitter costs $20/hr, you’re gone 3 hours, and then you pay for a car home and for her dinner if timing requires it…). Personally I prefer to either do dinner or an activity with just the two of us or to get together with another couple — I hate to “waste” a date night on a movie or something else where we don’t get much opportunity to talk.  (Pro tip for those with new babies: I think it can count as a date night even if your baby is with you — when my second son was born in particular we wore him on most dates for the early months, both because he slept so much during the dates and didn’t fuss, as well as just us being uncomfortable to foist two bedtimes on a family member or sitter.)

As expensive as date nights can be, I’ve found them to be absolutely crucial to maintaining my own sanity, reconnecting with my husband, and just having a fun, grown-up time out.  Regardless of where we go I usually try to pay extra attention to makeup, hair, contacts, etc. — not so much because my husband cares but because I enjoy it and recognize it as a form of pampering, if that makes sense.

Readers, how about you — what do your date nights look like? Does anyone “swap” date nights with another family to cut babysitting expenses or anything like that? Do you prefer to put your kids down and THEN go out, or is that part of the babysitter’s tasks? 

Picture via StencilDate nights for working moms can be absolutely essential for maintaining your sanity and your relationship! Pictured: two glasses clinking on a date night for working parents.

For working moms, it can be challenging to plan and budget for date nights, especially with two working parents -- but it's so important, both for personal sanity but also for the health of the relationship. Working moms discuss how they fit date nights in.


  1. My husband and I have gone out on monthly date nights ever since our son was about 8 months old — he’s 5 1/2 now. Our sitter is a family friend who has a background in early childhood education, so we’ve always felt comfortable leaving our son with her. We pay her less than she probably deserves, to be completely honest — but on the other hand, our son is asleep for half the time, so maybe it balances out.

    Typically, the sitter arrives at 4:30pm on a Saturday, hubs and I go get an early dinner, then we either go thrifting or catch a movie, then sit and talk at a coffee shop until about 10pm. In other words, we do what we used to do every weekend back when it was just the two of us, just a little later in the day than we used to.

    Regular date nights are so necessary for relationship maintenance; if not for this monthly reconnection, my husband and I would rarely even get to talk to each other, since we work opposite shifts. Six hours once a month is enough to remind us that we’re husband and wife, too, instead of always Mom and Dad.

  2. Anonymous says:

    We try and do at least 1-2 times a month. One thing I’ve found to keep things cost effective is to do daytime dates. This allows us to use a more junior babysitter without a drivers license (middle schooler) instead of paying for someone that can drive herself home in the evening. We’ll usually grab lunch and play 9 holes of golf.

  3. We aim for 1 per month, but don’t always make that with 2 under 4. Babysitters are ~$15/hr for 2 kids around here, and we round up to the nearest $10, so it’s almost always $50 or $60 just for that. We feed kids and leave, and the babysitter handles the rest of the night (and then watches TV after their bedtime).

    Agreed that a movie or concert seems like a waste, since we want to actually talk to each other. It’s almost always dinner at a Real Restaurant in a new-to-us neighborhood/suburb followed by either a drink or a walk through a cute main street area for dessert. We’ve talked about playing hooky from work one afternoon while they’re in daycare to meet at a golf course for 9 holes, but haven’t been able to coordinate our schedules yet.

    Maybe it’s the age of my kids, but I don’t think the “swap” with another family is practical for us yet. Waking my kids up to transfer beds never ends well, so it sounds like we’ll just pay extra with a sleepless night and cranky morning.

  4. Proper date nights are only as opportunities come up. But one thing we do to supplement is meet for a nice lunch at least twice a month. We work near each other and it’s a nice chance to both take a break from the work day and connect without having to worry about the baby is doing. Our kid also goes to sleep relatively early so we’ll try to do home date nights on the weekend where we order sushi and drink wine or cook a bunch of tapas or whatever.

    When the baby was first born we would go to my mom’s for a sleep over. My mom would watch the baby while we went to the movies and then we’d come back and sleep. That was honestly the best thing we did for our sanity. We’d take baby out to dinner with us too when she was really little because she usually slept but those movie dates are still one of my favorite memories of that whole period.

  5. Aim for 2x a month, probably more like 1. Family is our first choice sitter and will often do a weekend afternoon so we can go hiking or similar. If we had to pay $20/hour, dates simply wouldn’t happen on our budget. Our current high school sitter is $6/hour for one sleeping kid, $8 if awake, and that’s hard enough! We do have to drive her home, but not for much longer.

    • Same anon here– we also swap with neighbors occasionally after the kids are in bed. Cheap and convenient but you do lose the evening together when o e of you is at the neighbors’ house.

  6. Rainbow Hair says:

    I was just posting about my (husband’s) sitter anxiety on the other thread.

    But! We do something really great. We have a ‘date’ at home after kiddo is asleep, reliably at least once every weekend. We turn on the string lights in the back yard and bring out beers and maybe cheese and just sit together and chat. It’s basically the same as going out to a bar except cheaper and we’re at home. But sitting at our little patio table makes it feel a bit more special and romantic.

    • Marilla says:

      This is super cute! We took a glass of wine out to the backyard during afternoon nap one day this weekend instead of using the time to catch up on work or house chores. It was perfect.

  7. AuntE says:

    We also do daytime dates. Even if it’s just lunch at a deli, it’s an hour we have together, and I don’t have working mom guilt for spending time away from our daughter because she’s already at daycare. We also either have dinner, just the two of us, or sit out on the deck with drinks after she goes to bed one to two nights a week — not a date, technically, but still nice. Otherwise, we probably only go on true dates once a quarter, and almost always for an event — birthday, a symphony performance, etc. My MIL is our primary babysitter but also watches our daughter a significant portion of the 2 days a week she’s not in daycare, so I try not to ask her to babysit at night too often. When she does sit at night, I like to either feed or feed and put my daughter to bed (lessen the guilt.)

  8. We play hooky from work once a month and have a slightly extended lunch – and that’s it until Christmas or whenever we go and visit family (who all live far away). I’ve thought about coordinating date night swaps with another family who live in our building – so one of us goes over to their place after the kids go to bed, or vice versa – but we haven’t really done it yet.

  9. Anonymous says:

    We do afternoon dates on Fridays. We both skip out on work a bit early, meet at a restaurant with a bar or in nice weather a patio, and do an early happy hour with drinks and appetizers. One of us will go pick up the LO at the last possible minute from daycare; the other goes and gets pizza or takeout and we meet at home to eat. It gives us an hour or two to reconnect but we use the babysitter (i.e., daycare) we’re already paying for.

  10. Frozen Peach says:

    We aim for 2X a month, end up more like 1X a month.

    We’ve hacked date night with the following schedule for sleepy overscheduled people:

    — babysitter comes between 2-3 (tail end of naptime)
    — we go out and do something (sometimes shopping, hiking, a movie, bowling, meeting friends, etc)
    — last stop on the way home around 9 or 10 is a nice restaurant for great takeout
    — home around 10, send sitter home, garden party, eat said fancy takeout.

    Avoids the conflict of interest between eating large special meals and wanting date night to include gardening! (thanks Dan Savage)!
    Maximizes value of sitter– not paying for as many kid sleeping hours! Gives us a break from the dreaded weekend afternoon boredom crankies! This has revolutionized date night for us. Highly recommended.

  11. Anonymous says:

    We go twice a week, for the last ~2 years, with some big gaps based on sitter availability (moving, etc). We’re on sitter #4 for that amount of time, and get one week day evening and one weekend evening off. 90% of our dates are rock climbing + dinner out, with an occasional movie/event. We have a membership to the rock gym, so it’s not too expensive. We pay $12 – 15/hr, and I usually round up to the closest $5. Typically we are gone for 3 hours.

    We get very rare (every two months) swap dates with a couple different sets of good friends, who have 1-2 toddlers of their own, but likely do the same thing (rock climbing & dinner).

  12. Anonymous says:

    After having our second we decided they were much more important so found a college student who could watch the kids every Thursday night. The kids got used to the routine and we prioritized time together. We live In a cheaper area and pay $12 an hour. We wouldn’t do anything fancy but having a few hours together before the weekend even started really helped us not get ground down from the routine of regular life. And having a regular person took out the pressure of making Awesome Plans to justify the sitter. She just graduated so we need to find a replacement!

  13. We’re big fans of date lunches. My husband and I work in close enough proximity to be able to meet at a restaurant on our lunch break. No babysitting required, since the kiddo is in daycare. Every once in a while, we’ll go all out for date afternoon–work the morning, take the afternoon off of work, and do lunch and maybe a leisurely stroll about a nearby downtown.

  14. When our daughter was in daycare, we took a day or a half day off from work. We had lunch together, saw a movie, or sat in a coffee shop and chatted. That way we weren’t paying extra for sitter and we actually had more time. It isn’t something we could do every week, but we did it once a quarter for several years.

Speak Your Mind