Date Night In: Fun Ways to Include the Kids

Filed under: Activities: Babies, Activities: Toddlers & Preschoolers, Activities: Big Kids, Activities: Family Time

date night

Spend time with the kids on your date night in. Credit: Getty Images

OK, so it's not a five-star restaurant or a Broadway play. But if you can't find a babysitter or you're feeling a bit pinched for money, at-home date nights can be fun and romantic -- even if the kids tag along.

"It's so important to have date night because when you have children you can build your whole identity around them," Lindsey Rietzsch, the Utah-based author of "How to Date Your Spouse," says in a phone interview with ParentDish. "You're still a couple and not just a family. You need to model a healthy relationship for your children and grow as a couple."

She recommends including the kids in the date night and creating specific themes:

  • Box Car Drive-In Date: Have the kids decorate cardboard boxes to look like cars, while you find a larger box that you and your spouse can sit in together. After the boxes are decorated, "drive" them into the TV room and park, drive-in movie-style, with Mom and Dad's car in the back. Serve finger food, turn on the movie and cuddle while kids watch the movie in their own cars.
  • Snow Blast: This a winter date where the kids help build a snow fort in the yard -- or a cozy blanket fort inside. Serve dinner and hot chocolate in the fort, tell ghost stories and pay attention to one another in the cozy confines. Later, roast marshmallows by a fire pit or indoor fireplace. The kids will fall asleep early from sheer exhaustion, leaving time for parents to relax by the fire.
  • Family Restaurant Date: Your kids can set up a "restaurant" with menus they create with crayons and paper listing items they can prepare. Keep it simple: anything from peanut butter and jelly to microwave burritos, Rietzsch says. You and your spouse should get dressed up as though you were going out to dinner. Let the kids take your order, serve you and clean up when you're done.
  • Let Fate Plan Your Date: For this one, each family member should write a couple of suggestions on pieces of paper for three different categories: a place in the house, main dishes and desserts and finally games. Put all suggestions in separate jars and pick one from each. Date night could mean eating lasagna and ice cream for dinner in the attic while playing Chutes and Ladders.
  • Dance Club Date: Transform your family room into a dance club with your favorite music. Kids love to dance -- and the activity wears them out. Set up a "bar" to make smoothies or chocolate shakes, and be sure to record the event on video. After the kids go to sleep, you can slow dance the rest of the night away.
Regardless of which date you choose, it's important to prepare for some time alone with your spouse when the kids finally pass out. Have candles and soft music ready so you can unwind together.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.