One of the challenges of being parents is getting out of the house without the kids for a date. It just doesn’t happen as often as many parents would like. Even once a month can be a challenge.
And of course, it gets worse when you don’t want to spend a lot of money. Babysitters cost a lot of money, and it can seem like it’s just flat out too expensive to go out without the kids.
Getting out without the kids doesn’t have to break the bank. You have options.
Get Someone To Watch The Kids
The first challenge is finding someone to watch the kids for you. As I said above, babysitters are expensive. But they are not the only option.
Can Family Help?
If you have family in the area, they may be an obvious choice for watching the kids. That’s how my husband and I got out much of the time when our kids were little. We lived close enough that his parents or my mother could watch them.
Other family members can help as well. My sisters and I have been known to do kid trades. Sometimes it’s to balance out the age spread and let the kids have a weekend with cousins in the same age range. Other times it’s to give one set of parents some time off.
One of the things I love about sending the kids off for time with other family members has nothing to do with getting out with my husband. It’s that they get different experiences with different people.
Who Else Can Help?
But if you don’t have local family willing to help, it’s time to start asking friends.
Talk to your friends and see if any of them want to watch your kids. This is easiest if the friends have kids as well and you can return the favor. This way everyone gets the chance to get out without the kids. You may even be able to make it a semi-regular thing.
This can be as simple as setting up a playdate for the kids. Make sure the other parents know you won’t be at home, and to call your cell phone if there’s an emergency. So long as you reciprocate, you should be able to find a parent willing to have your kids over.
Someday Your Kids Can Help
All of this gets easier, of course, as your oldest kid becomes old enough to watch the younger. What age this is depends on state law in your area and your own comfort level. One child may be ready for responsibility by age 12, while another needs another year or two.
The first time or two that you have the oldest watch the younger kids, you may want to only be gone for a short time or be within easy phone reach. This allows both you and your kids to become comfortable with them being on their own.
What If No One Can Watch The Kids?
You say you don’t have anyone who can help watch the kids? That’s more difficult, but you aren’t completely out of luck.
You can have something of a date at home if you have no other options. It’s not quite as much fun as going out, but you can make it work.
The best is when you’re sure the kids are asleep so that they don’t interrupt you. This may be difficult if you’re dealing with a baby – those little ones can be unpredictable! But when you think baby will stay asleep long enough, make some time for each other.
Figure Out What To Do
Dates don’t have to cost a lot of money to be memorable or romantic. It’s less what you spend than what you do. Have fun together. Consider these ideas to get out without the kids for cheap.
Some of these dates are easily done at home, as you may not always be able to get out when the kids are little. Don’t feel bad if you can’t get out. It’s not always that simple to get time away from home.
Relive An Old Date
When you’ve been married a while it can be fun to go back to do something you haven’t done since you were dating. Many couples have all kinds of fun memories from when they were dating that didn’t cost all that much to do.
Go On A Picnic
There are plenty of wonderful places in most cities for a picnic. It could be a beach, a particularly lovely park, or even somewhere you have to hike a while to reach. Pack some favorite foods from home that you can eat cold.
Hiking is a wonderfully cheap way to get out and do something together during the day. You can find a fairly local hike or even drive an hour or two to get to someplace a little more special.
Go To A Street Fair
Check your local newspaper for local street or craft fairs and wander around. This one can add up pretty fast if you get too much into shopping or trying the food, but it’s a lot of fun and some are free to enter.
Just head out away from city lights (mountains are ideal if they’re in your area), and enjoy the view. This is particularly fun if there’s a meteor shower going on. The fewer lights in the area, the better, and unless you’re wanting to focus on the moon, stargazing when the moon is in a crescent phase or won’t have risen yet will give you the best view.
There are some great apps out there that can help you figure out which constellations you can see. You may also be able to see some interesting things in the night sky with some binoculars if you don’t have access to a telescope.
Don’t forget to keep an eye out for meteor showers. These can be impressive sometimes, and make a great excuse to lie out on a blanket outdoors together for hours.
Wander The Farmer’s Market
The Farmer’s Market is a whole lot more fun for adults than for kids, as a general rule. Not only can it make a pleasant date, but you get to explore the whole thing without the kids complaining of boredom.
Visit A Museum
Most museums don’t cost too much and can be very interesting to visit. Pick one that will interest you both.
Attend A Free Concert
Pay attention to when there are free concerts in your area and make plans to attend when possible. Summer is the best time for these in most areas.
Cook A Special Dinner Or Dessert At Home Together
Once the kids are out of the way you can make something special just for the two of you. This idea has the advantage of being something you can do after the kids are in bed if you just can’t find any other way to spend quiet time together without them. Plan a special dinner or even a particularly decadent dessert and make it together.
Plan A Game Night
Game nights can be fun if it’s just the two of you, but they also work if you’re with friends. Play games that you grownups enjoy – it can be a nice break from playing children’s games.
Just make sure the kids really are asleep before you pull out something like Cards Against Humanity.
Watch A Movie At Home
If you don’t want to pay movie theater prices, pick out a movie and watch it at home. You can stream from Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, or any other service you subscribe to, or buy or rent something. It’s nice taking the time to watch something without worrying about whether the kids will enjoy it.
Binge Watch Together
Do you have a mutual favorite show? Time to binge watch as much as you can together. This is especially fun if you’re waiting for the next season to start.
And yes, Netflix, we really are still watching that!
Go On A Winery Tour
Many wineries offer free tours. Many will offer free samples as well.
Drive Somewhere Beautiful
Hop in the car together and go on one of the most scenic drives in your area. Mountains, beach, or farm, it doesn’t really matter – you just have to enjoy the view and the time together.
Check Out Local Garage Sales
So long as the weather is nice, you can probably find a lot of garage sales in your area on weekend mornings. If you don’t need to bring the kids along, this can be a lot of fun. You might even find something you need for an incredible price – just don’t go overboard. Too much garage sale fun can lead to having to hold your own garage sale.