Ladies, please put down your pitchforks, and listen before you crucify me. My argument is that there are a lot of things a couple can do to stay connected, and scheduling, maintaining, and primping for a mandatory date night isn’t one of the requirements towards a fulfilling marriage. There’s so much ugh in date night that it begs the questions of whether or not it’s both worth it, and if it’s doing more harm than good.
Save Your Money
Dear God the money! Apparently, there are babysitters that charge less than $10 an hour. I’ve yet to find one. Comment sections on parenting sites are filled with moms who proclaim that they’ve found such inexpensive sitters and that we’re all being ripped off. I think these mommies are either very lucky, lying, or are having their children watched by meth addicts who are tele-sitting from prison. Who’s to say, really? It could be any of those scenarios. All I know is that I refuse to skimp on childcare, and I’m quite happy to pay a sitter who’s older than my own child, perhaps a responsible college student, with references, and who is certified in CPR. But, I’m also happy to admit I’m being over-protective.
Either way, it’s $10 an hour, or more, for a sitter. Add that to the cost of the date itself, and I’ve gotten myself well into the hundreds of dollars, just to enjoy the company of the dude next to me on the couch who is perfectly content to grab my pajama-wearing butt while I pop my pimples in the mirror.
He doesn’t need a $100 dinner, a $400 movie, (because that’s what they cost these days, if you buy popcorn), and the cost of a sitter, to enjoy spending time with me. Also, I kind of like spending the evening with him, for free, too. We’ve got at least one to three child-free hours every night to call a date night, and, we do. Isn’t everyone doing this?
Moms these days have made it their battle cry, shouting from the rooftops, that both yoga pants and leggings are appropriate all-day wear. So, it seems almost counterintuitive that they also want an opportunity to swing the pendulum the other way, to have a chance to primp, get dressed up, and go out in their finery. Ladies, we can’t have this particular thing both ways. It’s as if we’re treating our sweatpants as a soldier treats a uniform, or like armor. It requires something particularly special to come out of them. Hubby taking you to Applebee’s is not a special occasion. It doesn’t have to be that way. Just. Get. Dressed. Once in a while. Put on real clothes and you’ll realize that it’s not that much effort, and the effort to really primp is just really, really not worth it.
I love my sweatpants, yoga pants, and leggings as much as the next mom. But, as my yoga pants drawer became drawers, and then was creeping into a full-dresser, I realized I had a problem, and I instituted a rule: only two days a week max, and not past noon, ever. It taught me just how little effort actually goes into getting dressed, and how much effort goes into primping for real. Of course, now, I’m often greeted with “why are you so dressed up?” when I’m wearing jeans and a sweater. But, I digress.
Ugh, to get ready for an actual date, that’s something I don’t ever really want to do. I’d have to do my hair all fancy, which is something I’m terrible at doing. I burn my hands on curling irons, and I never know which products to use. I’d have to dig into the wasteland that is the failed product cupboard and cross my fingers for luck. I’d have to figure out how to glue eyelashes on, without gluing my eyelids closed, and I’d have to dig out that bra that makes me want to die. I’d also have to find that stuff that makes me not get blisters, and the good underwear. Plus, there’s all the shaving. So. Much. Effort.
Getting Out the Door
You’ve got to actually leave the house, which means you have to face your children as you leave. They never want you to go. So, you have to feel terrible, as you run out the door to have fun. If they can talk, they beg you to stay, which is always lovely. Or worse, they don’t beg you to stay, which means they couldn’t care less whether you are there or not, which feels swell.
Preparing to leave means that you get to write a note to the sitter including every phone number you’ve ever had, the doctor’s phone number, grandparents’ phone numbers, allergies that they might have had, will have, and do have. You’ve got to write instructions for bath time, bedtime, and morning time, just in case you are sucked up in a cyclone and don’t return for the next 18-24 hours.
You’ve also got to write instructions for your pets, the neighbor’s pets, and the pets you dreamt you had when you were seven. And you need to write instructions for what to do in case of emergencies, such as kidnappers, fire, and if the house is attacked by bees. By the time you are done, you’ve missed the movie, and it’s time to drive the sitter home anyway, so you might as well just stay in.
If you make it out of the house, your children have no mercy on the fact that you went out the night before. To them, reveille is still at oh-dark-thirty, and they are ready for their Cheerios. There’s no sleep for the wicked. The bonding you may have had with your husband, remembering the blissful time when you were a just a couple, is quickly called to a halt when you are fighting over who should get to sleep in. Last night’s romance, and gazing at one another over candlelight is now an evening of regret and wishing that you’d stayed in and gone to bed at a reasonable hour like the responsible adults that you really are.
The Way of It
Parents and married folks with strong relationships don’t need frills and date nights to strengthen their union, they need time together. Whether that time is spent on the couch each night, chatting over tea at the table, or snuggled in bed and giggling until sleepy-time, that’s what makes a marriage. A marriage is made in the stolen, quiet moments with your soul-mate. If the requirement to feel special about your significant other is being wined and dined, and categorizing special time as out time, perhaps you merely need steak and pinot, and maybe a serious reflection about your choice in partner. There’s something to be said, for sure, about getting out, once in a while; but, the idea of a monthly date night, or a weekly (gasp), is just blah. Pocket the money you’d save and take a family trip, buy a house, or heck, buy a present. But, don’t waste it on the idea that you can only bond over a white tablecloth and candlelight. Perhaps, buy a white tablecloth, if you must. However, enjoy your spouse at home, where he’s likely waiting for you and will find you equally appealing in sweatpants, pajama pants, or in your best clothes. No extra effort required.