“One alarming fact jumps out from the research about happiness and marriage: marital satisfaction drops substantially after the first child arrives.” ~ Gretchen Rubin
Sadly, dating is often one of the first casualties when children come along.
This is very unfortunate since dating can be such a great way to improve “marital satisfaction” and reduce “discontent”.
Of course it is relatively easy to go out on a date when it is just the two of you. It becomes much more challenging once the baby arrives.
We know this first hand. Our oldest daughter was born 13 months after we were married, our second 11 months after that, our first boy arrived two years later and then our youngest son two years after that.
We had four kids under the age of five. Those were busy times. Caring for one child, let alone four, makes dating very difficult.
Make Dating a Priority
It is important to do whatever it takes to prioritize your relationship with your spouse, not only for the sake of your marriage, but also for the sake of your children. Daddy and Mommy going out on a date is one of the greatest and most memorable ways to model what healthy married love looks like.
During the child-rearing years, one of the biggest obstacles to dating your spouse is figuring out what to do with the kids. Here are some ideas to help you overcome this obstacle.
- Date after bedtime
Plan a date night at home for after the kids go to bed. We did lots of this type of dating when the kids were younger. We were often interrupted, and sometimes things did not go as planned, but that is okay. We were making one on one time a priority, and that is what counted.
Need some suggestions for stay at home date ideas? Check these out:
- Child swap
We knew a few other couples with younger children and would child swap on occasion. We would watch their kids one night. In exchange, they would watch ours on another night. You could also do this in shifts where the first couple watches the kids for a few hours while the second couple goes out. Then switch.
- Call on family
If you are near family members tap them on the shoulder to watch the kids while you go out on a date. Spending time with Grandma and Grandpa or the cousins was often a great experience for our kids.
- Traditional babysitter
Hire a babysitter so you can go out on a date. Make it part of your budget. If you don’t personally know any sitters, you can ask other parents you trust or traditional childcare providers for references.
- Double date strategically
Our kids are older now and we no longer need sitters. Our kids are actually able to babysit other kids. We recently went on a strategic double date with a couple who have younger kids. They came to our home with their kids, and our daughter watched them while we all went out on a date. It was a win-win-win!
- Plan a lunch date during the school day
This works if you and your spouse have flexibility with your schedules and your children are in school. You can take advantage of the kids being at school during the day and plan a lunch date with your spouse. This does not work easily for homeschoolers or those with rigid work schedules.
- Double up the extracurricular activities
Take advantage of the times when you drop off your kids for dance, karate, youth group, or any number of other activities. Plan your own extracurricular activity (a date of course) with your spouse.
- Investigate drop-in childcare places
There are a growing number of childcare centers that charge by the hour. The advantages are that the workers have been through an evaluation process (background check, etc.) and the programs really engage the children. A down side is that it can be expensive. If the other options don’t work, this may be worth investigating. Some childcare centers offer complimentary date night services if your child is already enrolled in the school.
However you make it happen, the point is to prioritize dating your spouse.
Let your kids know why dating mommy, or daddy, is a priority. Your relationship will benefit and so will your kids. Aim at being the kind of spouse you want your kids to aim at having. Would that include continuing to date? I would expect so.
A Question for You –
What are some of the ways your kids benefit when you date your spouse?