A Year of Dates– Even with a Kid

My husband and I have always been more of a stay-in-and-binge-television kind of couple. Neither of us ever really did the club/bar thing and we desperately try to save money whenever possible. However, it seems like since having a kid, we have somehow managed to start going out EVEN LESS! We don’t live near family and don’t really have a set babysitter. I have some good friends who always offer, but I hate asking an adult, especially one without kids, to babysit. So basically, our dates have been whittled down to the couple times a year that the grandparents visit, and sometimes not even then.

Lately, it has felt like life has been kicking us around a little more than usual. I’ve started to feel like our relationship could really benefit from some designated “us time.” Nothing kinky– just time away from the TV, maybe even away from the kid occasionally. Time for us to reconnect as a family, and as a couple.

Our anniversary is on New Year’s Eve. I decided an anniversary present consisting of a year of dates might be the perfect opportunity to set us up for relationship success. The gift was simple. I wrote a letter telling him that we’ve had a rough go of it lately and that I wanted to give him the gift of time. I put that letter in a large manila envelope that also included 12 smaller envelopes, each labeled with a month of the year. Each envelope contains the “date” we will have that month. Ideally, it would have also included a gift card or the cash to pay for that date, but life doesn’t always work out like that.

The dates range in complexity and cost. Some will require us to get a babysitter, and some will be family-oriented. Some will require a little travel time, and we won’t even have to leave the house for others. Here are some ideas for dates that I have come up with:

In home date ideas (that can include the kids)

Wii Sports. We used to compete head-to-head in each of the 5 original sports (bowling, golf, baseball, tennis, and bowling). At my house, we call this “running the Gauntlet.” You could also include the kids and form teams (adults vs kids, girls vs boys), or even make it a bracket system. To make it more interesting, play for stakes: loser unloads the dishwasher, the winner gets to pick dinner, etc.

Game night. If you’re like us, you have shelves of board games getting dusty. Dust off those boxes and rediscover what you loved about those games before. Games are a great way to connect as a family. Kids learn general skills like turn-taking, patience, counting, money-skills (depending on the game). Parents get to enjoy beating their kids, or vice versa! 

Movie marathon. Dig through your DVD collection, or stop by Redbox on your way home. Stock up on boxes of movie theater candy at the dollar store, and make sure you have the extra-buttery microwave popcorn. Super simple, but could make for a fun night. Pick a super cheesy movie that the kids can make fun of, or put a movie on mute and assign each family member a character to provide a voice for. 

Dates that put you in touch with nature (and can include the kids)

Go for a hike. One of the greatest things about living in the greater Atlanta area is that there are SO MANY walking and hiking trails. Some of our favorites are the Roswell Mill trail, the Sope Creek trail down to see the ruins and the trail around East Cobb Park. However, there are so many others that we have yet to try, including the Kennesaw Mountain trail. You can find a more extensive list of places to try here

Picnic and playground. For those of us with younger kids, you can never go wrong with a playground! And, like with hiking trails, there are SO MANY to choose from. Swift-Cantrell, Sweet Apple, Terrell Mill Park, and Chastain Memorial Park are some of our favorites. Here is a list of others in the metro area. Pack a cooler of snacks, finger foods, and drinks; grab a blanket, and head for out for a day of play.

Dates that are probably best without kids

Escape Rooms. If you have older kids, they may do well with you, but this is definitely not something you want to try with littles. If you aren’t familiar with the concept, you get locked in a room and have a set amount of time to try to figure out all the puzzles that will allow you to find your way out. We have only done 2 rooms in one location (and were unsuccessful in escaping both times). But there are several places with different themes and even one place that does outdoor escape rooms. They are a lot of fun for people who like solving puzzles that involve logic and math, but may cause fights if you’re anything like me and get super competitive!

Axe/Hatchet throwing. This is one that is on our schedule for this year but that I’ve never done before. There are several places around Atlanta that will teach you how to throw a hatchet and hit a target.

Shooting range. If you or your spouse is a gun enthusiast, the range can be a fun place to work out some frustration, get the adrenaline pumping, and have a little friendly competition.

Other family-friendly date ideas

Stone Mountain Laser Show. I haven’t been to this in years, but can’t wait to see my daughter’s reaction. The laser show happens evenings Spring-early Fall and includes lights and lasers projected against the mountain and set to music.

Drive-In movie. That’s right, Atlanta has a drive-in movie theater! The Starlight Drive-In offers double-features 7 days a week. 

Brewery. Atlanta is a hotbed for family-friendly breweries. Places like Red Hare, Reformation, and Scofflaw have activities such as giant Jenga, cornhole, board games, and live music that make for a fun outing for the whole family. Look online for other breweries near you.

Sporting events. Atlanta is home to the Braves, Hawks, Falcons, and Atlanta United, not to mention all the college teams in the area. Check online for the schedule of your favorite team and to purchase tickets.

Food Crawl. This family-friendly version of a pub crawls consists of spending the day getting all your meals at different locations. Let each family member pick where to go for a meal: breakfast, lunch, appetizers/afternoon snack, dinner, dessert.

Other simple ideas include going to a haunted house, driving around to see Christmas lights,  or going out for ice cream.

What are other ideas you have for family-friendly dates?

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Originally from Dauphin Island, AL, I am a stay-at-home mom who likes to do anything other than just stay at home. My husband and I have lived in 5 states together and are in the Atlanta area now for the second time. I have a Master’s degree from GSU in Multiple and Severe Disabilities and was a special education teacher for 8 years before deciding to work with adults with autism and then becoming a SAHM. I now work as a preschool teacher and fitness instructor. I enjoy spending time with my daughter at parks, libraries, and anywhere else that we can explore our world.