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

Time with your hubby isn’t just an investment in your marriage—it makes you better parents too.

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.

In This Article

    These challenges from Nike PLAYlist are exactly what my child needs to stay active

    Plus a fall family bucket list to keep everyone moving all season long.

    While it's hard to name anything that the pandemic hasn't affected, one thing that is constantly on my mind is how to keep my family active despite spending more time indoors. Normally, this time of year would be spent at dance and gymnastics lessons, meeting up with friends for games and field trips, and long afternoon playdates where we can all let off a little steam. Instead, we find ourselves inside more often than ever before—and facing down a long winter of a lot more of the same.

    I started to search for an outlet that would get my girls moving safely while we social distance, but at first I didn't find a lot of solutions. Online videos either weren't terribly engaging for my active kids, or the messaging wasn't as positive around the power of movement as I would like. Then I found the Nike PLAYlist.

    I always knew that Nike could get me moving, but I was so impressed to discover this simple resource for parents. PLAYlist is an episodic sports show on YouTube that's made for kids and designed to teach them the power of expressing themselves through movement. The enthusiastic kid hosts immediately captured my daughter's attention, and I love how the physical activity is organically incorporated in fun activities without ever being specifically called out as anything other than play. For example, this segment where the kids turn yoga into a game of Paper Scissors Rock? Totally genius. The challenges from #TheReplays even get my husband and me moving more when our daughter turns it into a friendly family competition. (Plus, I love the play-inspired sportswear made just for kids!)

    My daughter loves the simple Shake Ups at the beginning of the episode and is usually hopping off the couch to jump, dance and play within seconds. One of her favorites is this Sock Flinger Shake Up activity from the Nike PLAYlist that's easy for me to get in on too. Even after we've put away the tablet, the show inspires her to create her own challenges throughout the day.

    The best part? The episodes are all under 5 minutes, so they're easy to sprinkle throughout the day whenever we need to work out some wiggles (without adding a lot of screen time to our schedule).

    Whether you're looking for simple alternatives to P.E. and sports or simply need fun ways to help your child burn off energy after a day of socially distanced school, Nike's PLAYlist is a fun, kid-friendly way to get everyone moving.

    Need more movement inspiration for fall? Here are 5 ways my family is getting up and getting active this season:

    1. Go apple picking.

    Truly, it doesn't really feel like fall until we've picked our first apple. (Or had our first bite of apple cider donut!) Need to burn off that extra cinnamon-sugar energy? Declare a quick relay race up the orchard aisle—winner gets first to pick of apples at home.

    To wear: These Printed Training Tights are perfect for when even a casual walk turns into a race (and they help my daughter scurry up a branch for the big apples).

    2. Visit a pumpkin patch.

    We love to pick up a few locally grown pumpkins to decorate or cook with each year. Challenge your child to a "strongman" contest and see who can lift the heaviest pumpkin while you're there.

    To wear: Suit up your little one in comfort with this Baby Full Zip Coverall so you're ready for whatever adventures the day brings.

    3. Have a nature scavenger hunt.

    Scavenger hunts are one of my favorite ways to keep my daughter preoccupied all year long. We love to get outside and search for acorns, leaves and pinecones as part of our homeschool, but it's also just a great way to get her exercising those gross motor skills whenever the wiggles start to build up.

    To wear: It's not truly fall until you break out a hoodie. This cozy Therma Elite Kids Hoodie features a mesh overlay to release heat while your child plays.

    4. Have a touch-football game.

    Tip for parents with very little kids: It doesn't have to last as long as a real football game. 😂 In fact, staging our own mini-games is one of our favorite ways to get everyone up and moving in between quarters during Sunday football, and I promise we all sleep better that night.

    To wear: From impromptu games of tag to running through our favorite trails, these kids' Nike Air Zoom Speed running shoes are made to cover ground all season long.

    5. Create an indoor obstacle course.

    Pretending the floor is lava was just the beginning. See how elaborate your personal course can get, from jumping on the couch to rolling under the coffee table to hopping down the hallway on one foot.

    To wear: These ready-for-any-activity Dri-FIT Tempo Shorts are perfect for crawling, hopping and racing—and cuddling up when it's time to rest.

    This article was sponsored by Nike. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

    Our Partners

    This post is brought to you by Staples. While this was a sponsored opportunity, all content and opinions expressed here are my own.

    One of the biggest changes in my household once my daughter started homeschooling was that, suddenly, everything and everyone in our home had to start pulling double duty. While I was used to wearing a lot of hats (mom, wife and WFH employee, to name a few), suddenly our dining room was also pulling shifts as a classroom. My laptop was also a virtual teacher. Our living room hutch was also a school supply closet.

    If I didn't want my home to be overrun with an abundance of clutter, I had to find products that could multitask. Here are 10 products that are saving this WFH + homeschooling mama right now.

    Stylish storage cabinet

    Whether I need a place to keep the printer or just want to keep crayons and colored pencils organized, this pretty cabinet provides a mixture of exposed and hidden storage without clashing with my living room decor.

    White board calendar + bulletin board

    With so much on our plates these days, I need a visual reminder of our daily schedule or I'll forget everything. This dry erase version makes it easy to keep track of Zoom meetings and virtual classes—and I also love using the corkboard to display my daughter's latest work from art class.

    Natural Recycled 3-Ring Binder

    From tracking our curriculum progress to organizing my family's paperwork, I can never have enough binders. Even better, this neutral version is pretty enough that I can display them on the bookshelf.

    Bamboo storage drawers

    The instant you start homeschooling, it can feel like you're suddenly drowning in papers, craft supplies and more. Fortunately, these simple bamboo drawers can be tucked into the cabinet or even displayed on top (seriously, they're that cute!) to keep what we need organized and close at hand.

    Laminated world map

    I love this dry-erase map for our geography lessons, but the real secret? It also makes a cute piece of wall decor for my work space.

    Rolling 7-drawer cabinet

    When you're doing it all from home, you sometimes have to roll with the punches—I strongly recommend getting an organizational system that rolls with you. On days when both my husband and I are working from home and I need to move my daughter's classes to another room, this 7-drawer cabinet makes it easy to bring the classroom with us.


    From our first day of school photo to displaying favorite quotes to keep myself motivated, this 12"x18" letterboard is my favorite thing to display in our home.

    Expandable tablet stand

    Word to the wise: Get a pretty tablet stand you won't mind seeing out every day. (Because between virtual playdates, my daughter's screen time and my own personal use, this thing never gets put away.)

    Neutral pocket chart

    Between organizing my daughter's chore chart, displaying our weekly sight words and providing a fits-anywhere place to keep supplies on hand, this handy little pocket chart is a must-have for homeschooling families.

    Totable fabric bins

    My ultimate hack for getting my family to clean up after themselves? These fabric bins. I can use them to organize my desk, store my oldest's books and even keep a bin of toys on hand for the baby to play with while we do school. And when playtime is over, it's easy for everyone to simply put everything back in the bin and pop it in the cabinet.

    Looking for study solutions for older children? Hop over to Grown & Flown for their top picks for Back to School.

    Work + Money

    100 unusual + surprising baby name ideas

    From Adelia to Ziggy.

    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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