Looking for a date? (part 1 of 2)

Coming up with the time and the ideas for dates can be hard. It requires creativity and, once you’ve added kids to the mix, it takes patience and planning. And, as I shared on my post a few days ago, in recent conversations it seems that the burden for this falls on the wife. That’s certainly been my experience. When date nights stop it can seem daunting to find ways to keep the romance alive… and even harder to make date night a priority once again.

So today’s post is for the mamas like me who don’t have the energy to plan complicated dates – and for the partners who feel overwhelmed by the prospect of planning a date. All of these are dates that Hubbin and I enjoyed when we were broke newlyweds. These are all inexpensive but fun ideas and most do not require much in the way of advanced planning or ticket purchases.


My top inexpensive dates:

Hubbin and I have always enjoyed daytime dates, which has certainly beneficial post-Tiny. In my experience it can be easier to find a sitter for mid-day than it is for an evening. Plus, there is a lot to do during the day that doesn’t cost much at all.


  • Visit a bookstore or go furniture shopping. It’s fun to browse – just don’t buy. We used to love simply browsing in the local book store and imagine all the titles that might someday fill up our imaginary bookshelves. Likewise we used to love wandering around furniture stores and imagining the furniture we could fit into a place when we finally outgrew out tiny one-bedroom walk-up. Bonus: it costs nothing (as long as you buy nothing) and, outside of getting a babysitter, it takes no planning at all.


  • Tour an apartment complex or check out an open house. Along the lines of number one, looking at future palaces is a lot of fun. Plus, at least in our first years, it also gave us an idea of price and helped guide our taste. Best of all it didn’t cost a thing. The only planning required is this: look for newly constructed apartments near you or look up some local open houses.


  • Re-create your first date (or a favorite date). While this may not be cheap for everyone, it is for us. Our first date was at a drive-in diner in early February. For years we re-created our first date each year by going to a drive-in diner and listening to the same silly CD we listened to on that first date. It’s easy for us to recreate this without paying too much for a sitter. So, perhaps, you can reminisce about some of your favorite early dates and try to replicate one. There are no reservations require so you can be flexible in picking a day when finding a sitter.


  • Enjoy nature! Take a hike. Visit the city botanical garden. Enjoy your local waterways. There are so many ways to do this, so find one that suits your preferences and the season. So many cities have trails within the city limits for bikers, joggers, etc. It’s a great way to get out and enjoy some time together, even in you’re just walking. Or, as we prefer, find a local state park. State parks aren’t very expensive, either, if you want to be a bit more removed from the bustle of the city. Want to get off the beaten path, literally? Enjoy local lakes and rivers. If you want to plan ahead a bit more, you might consider researching local vendors and rent a couple kayaks by the hour and get out on the water (I highly recommend you avoid canoes and tandem kayaks… many a fight has started when Hubbin and I were forced to steer the same craft together). Getting fresh air and a little exercise doesn’t take too much planning. If you want to rent a kayak you might need to plan ahead on reservations. If you go to a state park you might need to plan ahead for travel time. But these are fairly low-key options and pretty inexpensive.


  • Go to a locally owned coffee shop or growler pub. Have a few drinks and a small bite to eat – maybe a scone or a cheese plate. Bring a some books and read together. Or bring some mad libs or a crossword and have a few laughs. Or just have a conversation. Depending on how much you order, this can be relatively inexpensive and there are no reservations required.


  • Play tourist. Although we also use it when planning vacations, Hubbin and I have used Frommers to play tourist every place we’ve lived. Some destinations listed on Frommers, like New Orleans, have formal walking tours listed. But each destination has at least a few ‘must see’ places on the list of things to do. You might be surprised to find one or two there that you haven’t seen. Another great way to find ideas to play tourist is to visit a hotel lobby or local welcome center; you can pick up some brochures to help you get started. You might find a museum, zoo, historical site, heritage village, or other tourist destination that gets you out of your routine and lets you see your city – and your partner – through new eyes. This one does take a little early planning but, depending on where you end up, you probably won’t have to buy tickets in advance.


Need a few more reasons to make date night a priority? Here are couple more resources for you. And stay tuned for tomorrow when I share my top stay-at-home date night ideas.


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