Date Night Hacks

Date Night Hacks
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The fall season can mean a lot of new schedules, commitments, and favorite traditions. But as we begin adding our favorite seasonal activities to our calendars, let’s not forget to keep date nights on the weekly plan too.

I know, I know. It’s not easy. When you think about finding a babysitter, prioritizing time on your calendar, and justifying the money you’ll spend, it can seem less and less possible.

But as a wife of almost 20 years, with five young children, jobs that required travel, and growing multiple businesses over the years, I can confidently tell you from experience – it IS possible. And it IS worth it.

My hope is to share some real-life Date Night Hacks to help you experience the rewards of regular dates with your spouse/significant other, even in this full season.

Before we get into HOW to make them happen, let’s remind ourselves WHY date nights are worth the investment of time, energy, and money.

Simply put – date nights can seriously fill both of your love tanks. If you’re familiar with the “5 Love Languages” (if not click here), you’ll recognize a date night can speak all of the love languages. Similar to the fuel we must add to our vehicles, date nights can fill us with quality time with uninterrupted conversations, enjoying a yummy meal (that someone else cooked!), holding hands and snuggling in a cozy booth, and simply reminding each other why you fell in love in the first place. When your love tank is filled, you’re more eager to fill his love tank. That means both of you are fueled with more love to share! And that translates to more long-term happiness in your relationship.

Okay, whether we’re all hopeless romantics or not, we probably agree at this point that date nights are important. So how do we prioritize them when it seems near-impossible?

Let’s break down common myths and share some tried-and-true hacks to make date night a reality in our worlds.

Myth: Date nights have to be elaborate and expensive. 

False. Some of our favorite date nights have been packing a simple picnic or grabbing takeout, and eating at a local park. Atlanta has no shortage of scenic spots so find a new favorite and make it a special evening. If babysitters are out of the budget, consider asking another friend with young children to swap nights out with you. You watch her kids one night, and she returns the favor to you another night. Win-win!

Myth: Date nights have to be at night. 

False. Afternoon or brunch dates are amazing! Most restaurants have shorter wait times during the day, and kids can be in school or at children’s morning out. We’ve even had dates where we turned an afternoon of errands into a date. Sometimes tackling the to-dos is less mundane and a lot more fun when your best friend joins you. Productive afternoon AND quality time? Yes, please!

Myth: Our children won’t be okay without us.   

False. I know this can be a big struggle. And I know everyone has different circumstances. For us, we’ve never lived near family so we’ve always had to rely on friends and babysitters to help with our children. (Did I mention we have 5 and we are still in the diaper phase?) While it’s true that our children didn’t always like the idea of us leaving them for a few hours, we also knew it was for our best and for theirs too. It sent the message that our world doesn’t revolve around them, and it set the example for them to prioritize their future husband/wife. These life lessons are huge! If this is a challenge for you, try just leaving for one hour at first, and then build up to being comfortable to leave them for a little longer. I’m optimistic you’ll see that the benefits outweigh your concerns.

If you really just cannot leave your children yet, you’re not off the hook. Consider putting them to bed a little early and make an at-home dinner with your favorite takeout or a home-cooked meal. (Personally, I’m a big fan of someone else doing the cooking AND minimizing the cleanup.) Even just sitting on your front porch or in your backyard can change the scenery and take your focus away from your to-do list and bring out more intimate conversations.

Myth: Date nights should be convenient.

False. Even with a few of these hacks, I must warn you. You WILL have to protect your date nights. Other activities will always try to steal that time so you have to decide to make it a non-negotiable. If you let one week slide, it’ll become easier to let another go by, and then another and another. Before you know it, it will be months since you’ve spent one-on-one uninterrupted time together. There have been many times when my children wanted to make plans that conflicted with our date night. I learned to tell them, “I’m sorry but that’s date night. Dad and I already made plans. We’ll have to find another time to do X, Y, Z.” Guess what? They survive and we’re all better for it.

So wash your hair and refresh your makeup – or don’t get fancy and that’s perfectly acceptable too – and write the words “Date Night” into your schedule. Use a hack or two and let me know in the comments how it worked out.

Just remember, the when and where of your date isn’t what’s important. It’s about prioritizing time to look at each other (like, actually look at each other in the eyes), finish your conversations before you’re interrupted, talk about things that matter for the long haul, and remember why you love each other. It will make a difference in your marriage today and more importantly, for years to come.

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Ashlee Ilg
Ashlee is a homeschooling, business-owning mom of five (ages 12 to 1), who lives in the golf cart “Bubble,” otherwise known as Peachtree City. After spending a few years in the corporate world as a magazine editor and website manager, Ashlee and her husband took the leap into entrepreneurship and started a golf cart dealership in their garage. Today, they own multiple companies (don’t worry - they’ve moved out of the garage!) and love encouraging others to also pursue adventures on the roads less traveled. She admits that most of her homeschooling is done outside the classroom, as she has three rowdy boys and another on her hip, along with her one-and-only princess. Speaking of her daughter, Hannah was added to their family through adoption, and it’s fair to say she has added a very sparkly splash of pink to their otherwise team-blue family. When she’s not helping her husband with their latest new venture, or raising the next generation of entrepreneurs, Ashlee can be found either in a (somewhat) quiet corner writing for her blog “Fit & Free with Ash,” or getting her endorphin-fix in a sweaty workout session.