This post featuring at home date ideas is sponsored by Gorton’s, however, all opinions are my own.
Remember the days before you started having children? It was just you and your spouse and you had all the time in the world for each other outside of work responsibilities. At least, that’s the way it was for me and my husband. We were young, newly married, still in the honeymoon phase, and deeply in love. We were poor as dirt but we didn’t care. We had each other and that’s what mattered to us.
Fast forward about four years and we started getting the baby itch. Shortly thereafter, Maggie made her debut. She was beautiful, healthy, and perfect. We were instantly in love with that little brown-eyed girl. However, along with the happiness and joy that having a child brings, it also included changes in our marriage.
It was no longer just “you and me”. It was “you, me, and baby makes three”. Baby may be listed last in that old saying but, in reality, children become the center of your world. You suddenly find yourself with far less quality time with your spouse. You begin wondering where the hours go as you find yourself collapsing into bed at the end of a long day of work and baby care. There simply wasn’t much time left for your spouse if you wanted to get anything resembling a good night’s sleep. (And all the moms and dads who have midnight baby-feedings said “a good night’s sleep… What’s that?” Can I get an amen?!)
Eventually, that baby gets a little bigger and a little more independent (or less needy). Maybe grandma and grandpa take her so you and your spouse can sneak away for a rare date night. It seems you’ve suddenly struck a nice balance. You still have quality time with your spouse and baby is well taken care of.
Then you find out you’re expecting baby #2. Nine months later that giant red reset button gets pushed and you find yourself at the beginning all over again. Between a baby and a toddler vying for your attention, work, midnight nursing, and midnight diaper explosions, quality time with your spouse is at a new low. You collapse into bed each night. You’re tired. You’re mentally exhausted. You’re desperate for a few hours of sleep before you are awakened by the ungodly shriek of a hungry or wet baby or the small voice of a toddler who had a bad dream.
We’ve repeated this process several times now and here we are with five children. Date nights are much harder to come by. The flirty memes I used to send my husband frequently are replaced with photos of our sweet babies. Some days it’s easy to feel more like roommates than lovers. We want and NEED more time together.
Sometimes life makes it impossible to have the things that you want right at that moment. However, it’s moments like those that make you get creative. Have you ever seen those shows on TV that give you an inside view of what prison is really like? Ever notice how creative inmates can be with the resources they have? Well, if inmates have figured out how to make borderline gourmet foods out of instant noodles and a few other ingredients, then I knew I could figure out how to have a nice date with my husband regardless of the five children who relentlessly pursue us with questions, comments, and concerns.
Since going out for a date alone wasn’t a viable option with our newborn, I decided to start brainstorming at home date ideas. Once the kids are in bed, date night is on! Here’s are some of the at home date ideas I’ve planned. My goal is to have at least one date night at home each week!
At Home Date Ideas
If laughter is the best medicine then laughing together is a double dose. Since the start of our child-raising years, I’ve noticed that Orin and I don’t laugh like we used to in the earlier years of our marriage. When we do laugh together these days, it’s usually because of something that one of the kids did. Before, it was because we were pranking each other or being flirty or pantsing one another. (Not in public! Well, except for that one time at the nature preserve when no one else was around…) You know, things mature adults do.
While we lack the time and energy for a good old-fashioned prank or pantsing these days, that doesn’t mean we can’t laugh together. So I decided that I’d like to have a comedy night where we sit back, relax, and enjoy the musings of one of our favorite comedians. We both enjoy Jim Gaffigan because we identify with his commentary on larger families, marriage, and raising children. Orin and I also tend to share a weird sense of humor and Gaffigan is in our wheelhouse there.
While I have more ideas below, I decided to kick off our at home dates with Comedy Night. In addition to the musings of Jim Gaffigan, I wanted a nice, easy to fix dinner to share once the kids are off in dreamland. I didn’t want to have to spend a lot of our date night in the kitchen fixing dinner (especially on these warm summer nights) or have a big mess in the kitchen to clean.
Orin really likes seafood (shrimp in particular) and I found these perfect and simple meals on my last trip to the grocery store that I thought he would enjoy: Gorton’s Shrimp Bowls. I hadn’t seen these in the store before so I believe they are relatively new. Because they come in three varieties and I wasn’t sure which Orin would like the best, I went ahead and got all of them to try. Shrimp Bowl flavors include Stir Fry with Soba Noodles, Chili-Lime Rice and Beans, and Black Garlic and Wine Risotto.
Cooking them was an absolute breeze! You can bake them in the oven or cook them in a microwave if you are short on time. Oven cooking times weren’t exactly short at 55-70 minutes depending on the flavor but, nevertheless, this is the method I chose as both Orin and I prefer the oven over the microwave. I just popped them in the oven as we began the bedtime routine (bath, jammies, brushing teeth, storybook, tucking in) and they were just finishing up as we came back downstairs.
Again, if you are short on time, the microwave is a perfect alternative where cook times are reduced to roughly 4-5 minutes. I really like having that option for nights we need a fast meal! That will really come in handy this fall when the back to school madness starts up!
As an added bonus, the bowls they cook in are sturdy enough to eat from too, so I’m not creating any extra dirty dishes!
On our last date night in we tried Gorton’s Stir Fry with Soba Noodles and Gorton’s Black Garlic and Wine Risotto. They were both so delicious it’s truly hard to choose a favorite! We will definitely be purchasing them again!
I know this one seems a bit on the nose but Orin and I are both highly competitive. Board games or card games aren’t just games. They are a chance to one-up each other and get some bragging rights. (Insert Randy Savage “Oh Yeah!” gif here.)
I thought it would be fun to make it sort of like a triathlon and incorporate several games into the competition. One round of Monopoly, one round of Splendor, and one round of Ticket To Ride. I would have included Risk in there but I crushed Orin so badly in that game about 10 years ago that he hasn’t played it with me since.
The winner of the game night triathlon gets bragging rights and a backrub!
Along with missing the laughter that we used to share, I just miss talking with my husband. Most of our conversations revolve around kids, responsibilities, bills, and other things that adults didn’t warn us about when we were children. I decided to try to put that spark back into our conversations. I truly can’t remember the last time we just talked about things not related to family or adult responsibilities.
In the spirit of this, I wanted to come up with some questions beforehand to get the conversation rolling and ended up creating a simple game. All you need is this printable list of questions and a deck of regular playing cards. The game is simple. Shuffle the deck and take turns drawing a card and read the question that corresponds to the card to your spouse. You can both answer the question if you want. Discard the card once you have discussed the topic to your satisfaction and the other spouse then draws. The game continues until the entire deck has been discarded.
Click HERE for the full printable version.
I’m excited about this one because it often feels like we have run out of things to talk about. Now that I armed with new, interesting questions, I think we are going to learn some new things about each other! I can’t wait to play it!
Black Tie Date Night
I don’t know about you other ladies, but I love it when my husband wears a three-piece suit. He looks absolutely amazing! Unfortunately, it is extremely rare for us to find ourselves a black tie type of event. Then I thought, “Why can’t I create a black tie event just for us?” The answer: I can!
I got really into this one and ended up creating printable tickets and invitations for this date night idea so you can plan your own! Also on the menu for this particular date night will feature candlelight wine, fine dining, smooth music, and dancing in our living room.
Click HERE for this free printable.
I can’t wait to get dolled up for our own private black tie date night with my dappered husband!