John and I have been married since 2001. We met in 1999 and we dated as most people do when they first meet. We would go to a movie, dinner, and even canoeing. We did fun things together and we did them all the time. We’d have stay-in dates and adventure dates, like a weekend in Nantucket or Vermont. Then in 2003 we had our first son, Quinn, and our date nights ended. Quinn had a seizure disorder and I was NOT leaving him with anyone. It was nearly a year before we left even for a few hours. I barely left him alone with John let alone us both leaving. We began to do date afternoons, times when family could watch him. They were short, like a few hours, but they rejuvenated us. We would eat out or go for a walk and talk and reconnect.
Those dates meant the world to us and it helped us keep our marriage strong. We moved in 2004 from Massachusetts to Seattle and had Meghan. We had no family there and again, no date nights for nearly a year. We met a lovely couple who had a child who loved to play with Quinn so we went on a date to the movies while they watched him and Meghan. It was so much fun and again- we felt connected and in love again. In between dates, which were often months apart, we’d be sure to watch TV together at night or eat a late dinner after the kids went to bed.
We always had early bedtimes for the kids. They were asleep by 7pm until all 3 kids were about 5 or 6 yrs old. So we had evenings to ourselves until about 2009 when Quinn was 5 and began to go to bed later. By that time we’d moved back to Massachusetts and found a sitter. She was a college student and full of energy and great with the kids. We needed someone who was willing to play with the kids, put them to bed and tidy up afterward. Alex was amazing. She used to clean more than a general tidy up and it was like having a maid and a babysitter in one. She actually taught Cole how to tidy up or inspired his inner cleaner as to this day I credit Alex with Cole’s tidiness.
The dates we’d go on when Alex came were very creative. We had to pay her $14/hour which left little to go toward a proper date. We’d go for walks, get ice cream or go to the mall. It was well worth it though as we reconnected without 3 little ones at our feet because in 2006 we had our 3rd child Cole after we’d moved back to Massachusetts, this time South of Boston and about 90 minutes away from my parents and 30 minutes away from John’s sister’s family in Rhode Island. We splurged one night after having had Alex for a year or so and we went overnight to Providence Rhode Island. I can’t recall what we did except to say we had a great night’s sleep in a hotel! Those 24 hours away really rejuvenated us and getting away was so worth it. Date nights and especially that overnight kept our marriage strong and reminded us of how much we truly loved each other.
Since we moved to Illinois in 2013 we didn’t find a sitter and again were in a place with no family. We began to realize with the kids being older that we could leave them for a few hours and go out to eat. Saturday Sushi afternoons became a thing. We’d be gone an hour 1/2 to 2 hours and it was divine. We’d talk and discuss our future, our life, our marriage, our goals. It truly was amazing. Every week 2 hours together and it kept us connected and it continues to keep us together except today our kids are 14, 13 and 11 and we can venture out a little later, a little longer and boy are we having fun. Last night was our 2nd date night in a month. First in December we went to the company Christmas party and it was great. The kids were accompanied to a school event with my cousin- I actually have one cousin who is local here in IL but I had no idea he lived here when we first moved here. Anyway- the kids were dropped off from their event at 9pm and my cousin went home. We were at the Christmas party til Midnight and arrived home at 1am with our 14 year old greeting us. All was well and we’d checked in with them often.
So, last night we went to Second City in Chicago and saw a Comedy show. It was awesome and it was particularly great because it was my Christmas present from my husband, John. It was so thoughtful and a really great time. We ate at the restaurant next door and it was delicious. I had a hot buttered rum and it was so good and quite relaxing. We ate, we talked, we laughed and then we went to see the show and we laughed a whole lot more. AS we drove home and checked in with the kids again we heard how happy they were and how proud they were to be in charge for the evening. We arrived home at around 10:30pm and they had fun and we had fun.
I’m so glad that now that the kids are older and responsible enough to handle being alone for a few hours so we can go on a date like it it’s 1999. We may be older, I may have gray hair and John has less hair (sorry babe) but we still have the same love for each other. Has our love changed? Well of course- its different because we have grown up together. We are different people than when we first met online back in 1999. John has the same job- well same career- different companies throughout the years of course- he’s still a Software Engineer with added management now that he’s older. I went from working to a stay at home mom to working to a homeschooling mom and now staying at home again while I transition into what’s next for me. Life is good and Date Nights, or Date Afternoons are important. I can’t wait to plan another one. It felt so good to reconnect and hold hands and laugh. We even kissed a few times which rekindles the sparks. So go on a date- you’ll really will benefit from spending time alone with your significant other.