My husband and I lived on a thin red line in our early years of marriage. I was in OT school which kept me from working. His first job out of college paid well, but the starting salary was “just enough.” I remember eating our dinners on an overturned laundry basket because we couldn’t afford a dining room table. When we wanted to be really fancy, we set up the ironing board on the balcony of our apartment and ate al fresco. We saved for nine months to buy our first VCR so we could watch movies at home. Those were the days!
In those early years, we enjoyed just being together. Our entire pre-marriage relationship was long distance. We lived four hours apart in a pre-cell phone age (for you young ones, this means we spent ten cents a minute when we talked long distance). Being in the same city, in the same apartment, was enough. Our ordinary life was like a free, ongoing date night.
Fast-forward a couple of decades, throw in three kids, and ordinary life is anything but an ongoing date night. Movies at home used to lead to intimate cuddles on the couch. Now they end with one or both of us falling asleep fifteen minutes into a G-rated family movie with kids piled all around us. I wouldn’t trade our ordinary for anything, but, have mercy, we need some quality time together!
The thing is, we are living on that thin red line again. I work very little in order to manage our home and raise our children. And then there’s our good friend Dave Ramsey who tells us to “live like no one else so later we can live like no one else.” We can’t swipe the Visa at a swanky restaurant downtown and hold our head high when we walk into our Finacial Peace class the next night. It’s time to get creative with the date night plans!
How to Date Your Mate Without Spending Money
Barter for Childcare
The first problem to solve is childcare. When you are on a budget, paying a babysitter is out of the question. Find a friend or two looking for a sitter and swap kids. You keep their kids one night, and they keep your kids the next. Then what? Find some ideas for free or cheap dates here.
Romance in the Kitchen
I cook dinner five to six nights a week, so making dinner for a date night isn’t very appealing to me. Spice it up by wearing a little something-something, and invite your hubby to help. Turn on music from your dating era (a little Boyz II Men, anyone?). Make a meal you love but your kids won’t eat. Serve it on the good dishes, and save the clean up for tomorrow.
Maybe you are like me and fall asleep as soon as you sit still each night. Nothing kills the mood during a date like a drooling, comatose spouse. Consider an early morning date. Set your alarm a little early. Brush your teeth, and enjoy some snuggles in your already warm bed. Put some juice and cinnamon rolls on a tray and have breakfast in bed together. (Prepare food the night before because once the kids hear noise in the kitchen, the date is over!)
Party All Night
Fight the tendency to pass out with caffeine. Instead of sharing that romantic glass of wine, brew coffee after you put the kids to bed. Add some flavored syrup or your favorite creamer to make it decadent. Split a bar of dark chocolate while you watch that movie all snuggled up on the sofa. Plan this on a night when the preceding day is a little more relaxed in case you are tired from your late-night rendezvous.
Take it Outside
The outdoors are romantic and totally free. The serenity and slow pace bring us back to us. We remove electronics and obstacles and remember we are on the same team. Try picnic lunches while the kids are at school, a walk around the lake, stargazing after the kids are tucked in. Remember the past and dream about the future—this makes the present so precious.Low on funds this #valentinesday? #dateyourmate for free with these tips!Click To Tweet
#FridayFive Link Up
I’ve shared my dating advice; now it’s your turn to share! Share your ideas, stories, and advice in the comments. Or link up a date night post using the blue button below. Let’s make this week of love special!
This link up will stay open through February 23. We switch gears in a few weeks as we prepare for Lent. Begin to think about the heart of the Lenten season—repentance, fasting, preparing for Holy Week.Find inspiration for your #datenight with the #FridayFive #linkup. #stayinginloveClick To Tweet
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