Stop putting off date night—4 ways for busy parents to reconnect

When I started dating the guy who would become my husband, we were always up for an adventure. Whether it was trying out a new restaurant or a game of putt-putt golf, those early dating days were so fun.

Shortly after we got married, we had three kids back to back. My husband and I didn’t plan to have kids so close together, but before we knew it, we had three little ones under the age of three.

Recently, we realized we have left behind the baby years.

We now have a toddler and kids entering elementary school. I’m not pregnant and we don’t have a nursing newborn. This didn’t make things worse in our marriage, but it was new and strange.

“You are entering a new season, and there is always transition in a new season.” My counselor said. “You can either learn to grow together or you can drift apart.”

Acknowledging we were in a new season of life was difficult for me to hear; we had been so entrenched in the life of tiny babies, diapers, spit-up and breastfeeding. I couldn’t believe that wonderful season was over. It’s bittersweet.

Hearing my counselor say those words alarmed me. The last thing I wanted us to do was drift apart.

That afternoon, when I came back from my counseling session, my husband and I sat down and chatted. Drifting apart in this new season of “big kids” wasn’t an option for us, so instead, we developed a plan to drift back together.

Here are four things we do to stay connected in the middle of soccer practice, bedtime stories and dance recitals.

We found a good, reliable babysitter.

File this one under, “Things No One Tells You When You Become a Parents.” Finding a good, reliable babysitter has been such a difficult journey for us. It’s so hard to find someone we can count on consistently. Seriously, when we found our babysitter, Lydia, I kept telling her with wide eyes and mouth dropped open, “You are so…wonderful and normal.” Which probably made me sound insane.

Finding a good babysitter is vital! If grandparents and aunts and uncles aren’t a consistent option, find someone you trust. Finding someone I trust and someone who enjoys being with my kids has made all the difference. When the kids are safe and taken care of, you don’t worry as much (you still worry, but the worry isn’t on steroids).

Our dates became more routine.

The last few years, we’ve toted newborns to the nearest Chili’s, or we’ve gotten take-out and plopped on the couch to watch The Goldbergs. Date night was done.

Those dates were what we could do for what season we were in then—parents with a little newborn. I’m not sure how, but sometimes it felt more like checking off a checklist rather than reconnecting. But now things have changed. Our kids are older so instead of once every six months, our dates are a few times a month.

We are starting to do things like go to a baseball game, or go to the movies, or sit at a restaurant and chat for hours. This is a vast improvement from our days of rushing to the nearest restaurant only to rush back before the nursing baby needs Mama.

We talk more.

Of course, this is what we hoped for when we decided to make date nights a priority. We are reconnecting like we just started dating again. (However, the connection is deeper and richer.) We get to talk more about our personal dreams and goals. We get to brag on our kids.

For a few hours, it’s just me and my husband, together. Those few hours give us time to reconnect, rather than just determining when the repairman is coming and did the toddler get a nap, and bonus—it’s deeper. In many ways, we are dating again, but instead of those awkward early dating days of “I’m trying to impress you,” now we have nearly 10 years of marriage and three kids under our belt.

We play games.

This is as simple as asking each other questions or catching up. Sometimes, we people watch, or we share articles and new stories that caught our eye. We take forever to choose our dinner off the menu, because what’s the hurry?

The slow dinner route means we still get a hot meal, and we get to soak up the conversation. Plus, no one makes me laugh like my husband, so getting a chance to laugh with him (and at him!) uninterrupted is gold.

When we make an effort to do these things, we return from our date renewed.

Date night is a way to tell our kids, “We value the family we have, so we are going to spend time together so that we are a better couple for you.” We come back from date nights feeling connected and invigorated.

Most likely, we will have a kid crawl into our bed at 2 a.m., or a child (or two) will be up at 6 a.m. ready to start the day. After a date night, we feel like we can handle sleepless nights or early mornings because we feel more rested and better connected as a couple.

Investing in our marriage makes us better parents.

This new dating season is sweeter. It’s better than ever. Not only we are having fun like those early days, but we are taking this new season of no babies or pregnant bellies in stride. We are entering it knowing that whatever this season or the next brings, we can handle it, as long as we stay connected and do it together.

Who says you have to wait for birthdays or holidays to give your bestie a great gift? A sweet surprise that tells her you've been thinking of her might be the pick-me-up she needs in these more-than-trying times. We've rounded up some of our favorite go-to gifts that are certain to be a bright spot in her week. But be warned, you may want to snag a few for yourself. (You deserve it, mama.)

Here are some our favorite "just because" gifts to give our hardworking mama friends.

New Mother face + body care duo

volition face + body care duo

This correcting oil and stretch mark minimizer is perfect for the pregnant mama looking to keep her pregnancy glow. The correcting oil brightens the skin while reducing dark spots, and the stretch mark minimizer works to smooth her ever-growing belly.


Allover roller

esker allover roller

This jade roller goes beyond your typical face roller and can be used anywhere on the body. It works to increase stimulation and reduce puffiness and is perfect for applying any oils to the face or body. Plus, it feels like a mini spa treatment.


Kombucha making kit

farmsteady kombucha making kit

What could be a more perfect gift for the health-obsessed friend? This kombucha making kit comes with everything you need to brew your own homemade green tea kombucha. They'll think this is the tastiest gift ever.


Laetitia lipstick

cupid & psyche laetitia

This red lipstick is perfect for your makeup enthusiast bestie who is looking to spruce up her life in quarantine. Crafted in the United States, these bee and vegan-friendly and cruelty-free lipsticks are created to flatter all complexions. Cupid and Psyche Beauty makes finding the perfect red lip way too easy!


Jigsaw puzzle

inner piecec jigsaw puzzle

Mamas need to destress now more than ever during quarantine. This adorable jigsaw puzzle is perfect for the mama who needs a brain break! The 500-piece puzzle designed by artist Ray Oranges features an abstract gradient design that fits a standard frame when completed. Bonus: It's printed on recycled paper and the company donates $1 from every puzzle sold to youth mindfulness programs.


Matilda's Bloombox

matilda's bloombox

If we have to be stuck inside, we might as well have some gorgeous florals to brighten up the space. Matilda's Bloombox locally sources blooms, delivers them to her door and provides simple tips on how to arrange it into a beautiful bouquet.


'I Am Enough' bracelet

I Am Enough bracelet

Let this dainty bracelet serve as a constant reminder to your bestie that she is enough. She'll wear this on her wrist and read this daily oath to herself, "I Am Enough."


Glow assorted teas

vahdam low assorted teas

This tea gift box set covers the entire spectrum of flavors from sweet to spicy. Individually packaged in beautiful tins, your gal pal will feel like a queen sipping her morning tea. Originally $40, this set is currently on sale for just $24. We'll take two, please.


Find your voice journal

find your voice journal

Journaling is a great way to ease anxiety and will slow your bestie's racing mind before bed. This gift is perfect for first time journalists and includes prompts, daily quotes and coloring pages to help her unlock her potential and find her voice.


Premium frother

shore magic premium frother

This gift is fitting for your latte-sipping bestie who can't go a day without her coffee. All she has to do is add two scoops of collagen to her favorite drink, and she'll have a perfectly foamy drink ready in seconds. Skipping the drive-thru line has never been so easy!


Bath soak infusion kit

maude bath soak infusion kit

Say hello to hydration! She'll be feeling smooth and relaxed as ever after a long bath soaking in these salts. This vegan + cruelty-free set incorporates dead sea salt and dehydrated coconut milk powder for an ultra hydrating experience.


Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

It's a hard-earned title she answers to a hundred times per day. Whether she's new to the club or a seasoned professional, this delicate script 'mama' necklace is guaranteed to be a perfect fit.


Superfood honey

Beekeeper's Naturals B.Powered honey

With a lack of sleep and jam-packed days, getting through the afternoon can be a real challenge. Send her a powerful pick-me-up in the form of a therapeutic blend of royal jelly, bee pollen, propolis and raw honey. It makes the ideal companion for tea, smoothies, yogurt or even on its on.


Calming midnight mask with melatonin

Who doesn't deserve a reminder to pamper themself every once in awhile? Even better, this mask does all its work at night while you're sleeping with no extra effort needed. It's an amazing plant-powered antioxidant-packed mask that has melatonin, wild dandelion leaf and hyaluronic acid to rehydrate, repair and reset facial skin. It's so good, you might want to gift it to yourself. We won't tell, mama.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


Why do all of my good parenting or baby-focused inventions come after they've already been invented by someone else? Sigh.

Like the Puj hug hooded baby towel, aka the handiest, softest cotton towel ever created.

Safely removing a wet, slippery baby from the bath can be totally nerve-wracking, and trying to hold onto a towel at the same time without soaking it in the process seems to require an extra arm altogether. It's no wonder so much water ends up on the floor, the countertops, or you(!) after bathing your little one. Their splashing and kicking in the water is beyond adorable, of course, but the clean up after? Not as much.

It sounds simple: Wash your child, sing them a song or two, let them play with some toys, then take them out, place a towel around them, and dry them off. Should be easy, peasy, lemon squeezy, right?

But it hasn't been. It's been more—as one of my favorite memes says—difficult, difficult, lemon difficult. Because until this towel hit the bathtime scene, there was no easy-peasy way to pick up your squirming wet baby without drenching yourself and/or everything around you.

Plus, there is nothing cuter than a baby in a plush hooded towel, right? Well, except when it's paired with a dry, mess-free floor, maybe.

Check out our favorites to make bathtime so much easier:

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Our list of 100 baby names that should be on everyone's list this year includes more choices than in the past of names that are obscure and surprising. That's because there are so many more unusual baby names coming into widespread use and baby namers have become a lot more adventurous.

Expectant parents do not need to be told to move beyond Jennifer and Jason. Their thinking about names has evolved to the point that the most useful thing we can do is offer a large menu of intriguing choices.

Here are our picks for the 100 best surprising + unusual baby names now.

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