Note: These elements of planning a date night are from our personal experience and most relevant to parents of young kids.
Not sure if these times are the hardest for a couple to stay connected with one another. Other than jobs, household, kids, there are happy hours with colleagues, friends, social networking, smart phones in our hands, and the fear of missing out on all of this (FOMO). We realized we don’t need to wait to retire or for the kids to leave home, to re-connect and be what the two of us started off as – a couple. We could do that few hours every week. Put everything else on the back burner, and take out time to be with each other.
I have another take on this as well. Regular date nights help kids grow up seeing a healthy, fun side to marriage. I would put Date Nights under a ‘good parenting practice’. I attended a workshop recently – ‘Happy Couple, Happy Children’. Amidst other techniques, the instructor covered date nights as one of the tools, couples should use to bring sanity to everyday chaos. Hope that helps you overcome the guilt, next time you are sneaking out.
Amidst a lot of initiatives from government bodies to encourage couples to get married and bear children in time, something as simple as knowing that you can always take small pauses to re-connect with each other, may help. This is about finding a balance as you and your relationship matures and takes on life’s challenges.
Schedule it in!
Overcome the inertia by scheduling in the date night at the same time every week, and making sure you prioritize those few hours of ‘couple time’ over everything else that may crop up. That way, neither of you must make the first move of asking – shall we go out? It is your scheduled appointment together. Period.
If you have kids, this needs some organization and commitment. Having a helper or grand parent watch the kids is a huge help, else find a reliable babysitting option, along with a backup. No stranger to mothers is the constant guilt having any kind of fun, sans the kids. A tip to help you overcome that guilt is to plan something fun for them as well – some screen time, new toy, sleep over, whatever works. We do secretly wish that Saturdays could be announced as ‘all kids in bed by 7pm’ day, so you don’t run into other kids, just one day of the week.
Well, scheduling it in and being organized is only half the battle. The other half is the planning and keeping those date nights fun & fresh, so you pick going out with your partner over anyone else.
We know it could get hard to cater to the likes and dislikes of two people while planning your evening. How about a ‘one-for-you, one-for-me’? Take turns planning and doing something you really enjoy and let the other person play along. This also gives you a chance to raise the bar and make it fun, engaging and maybe enriching. Date night is precious! Make sure atleast one of you had a really good time and got to introduce something fun to your partner.
Keep it a surprise, let your partner anticipate. Drop hints though, like the dress-code for the evening. Make sure you make the necessary reservations. It isn’t that great when after this exciting build-up, you arrive at the restaurant, only to find out that it is closed for an event. You end up walking for a mile to find something only half as special. May not go down so well and again, those hours are precious.
Pair it up with an activity
Seen couples dining together, but looking at their phones, every couple of minutes? That’s because couples who have known each other for a while need to do more than just go with the flow. Plan an activity that excites both of you. Sign-up for event listing newsletters, like our Date Night Guide, that keeps you in the loop on what’s happening around town. Singapore offers a lot of options for both, paid and free events and our Date Night Guide is tailored for couples. Plus, we feature additional articles for date night restaurants, relationship tips, etc.
We also think it’s a fab idea to build on a hobby together, or try out workshops that are completely new to both of you. You could try calligraphy, pottery, art jamming, yoga, cooking, or an outdoor activity to keep you both engaged in an enriching manner. You can also book workshops, especially for couples, through the DateFyx website. Some of the experiences listed are best for special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries.
Needless to say, Date Night is incomplete without a mini feast each time. You’ll be totally spoilt for choice in Singapore with extremely affordable options as well. There are fancy Michelin Star restaurants, hawker centers, rooftop bars, waterfront dining, cinema dining, picnic baskets and anything that you could think of. Food is everywhere in Singapore. If you are a parent, meal times are mostly stressful. We kind of got used to someone spilling water, needing to use the toilet the minute we start eating, announcing that the food is yucky, or even throwing up in the middle of a meal. But date nights make us feel normal again. We can actually feed just ourselves and savor the flavors.
We usually don’t go by the rule of not talking about kids or work, because this is the only time we have to catch up. We use this time to talk about whatever has been going on in our lives - new thoughts, new projects, new concerns, but in a relaxed and reflective way, instead of the daily must-do tasks that we assign to each other. We step back for a few hours and look at the bigger picture and distant goals that as a family unit we work towards, but lose sight of in the daily chaos.
Make it Special
Make Date Night routine, but don’t forget to make each one of them special as well. It’s the perfect opportunity to dress up, wear that special pair of shoes, that fun lipcolor, anything that makes you feel good and ready to hit the town. Take selfies or little souvenirs that remind you of the fun moments that you managed to carve out for just the two of you!