Up until my daughter was five years old, she’d never spent a night away from us. Just the thought of leaving her, the idea that she might call out to me during the night and I wouldn’t be there, sent me into an anxiety meltdown. Even though the only people that we would have allowed her to stay with – and still do – would be our parents and siblings, it still made me uneasy. But when she was five, after much convincing from my husband, we took the plunge. Armed with a bag of about a hundred items, we dropped her off at my in-laws and headed out for a night on the town with our mates. It was going to be grouse. We’d have no time limits, no baby curfew and even better, a FULL night’s sleep with zero call-outs. As it turned out, my night was shit. I spent the entire time concocting a million different terrible scenarios in my head. What if she choked? What if there was a fire? What if she rolled out of the bed and hit her head? Ridiculous, I know, but that’s how my mind rolls.
Three years down the track, things have changed. A lot. While we don’t go out very regularly without the kids, when the opportunity presents itself, I have their bags packed and sitting at the front door, ready for shipping. The thing that I’ve learnt over the years is that it’s really important for our marriage to occasionally have a night out without our children, better known as a ‘date night’. We need time to talk, without interruption. We need time to sit back, relax and just enjoy each other like we used to back in the ‘olden days’ as my kids would say. We need to have a (hot) meal together where neither of us is responsible for cooking it or cleaning up afterwards. We need to connect with each other again as individuals, not solely as parents. And we bloody well deserve it, because when your entire life revolves around your children, losing each other in the daily grind of parenting isn’t hard to do.
The thing that has surprised me the most about the times when we’ve left our kids with our parents overnight is how much they love it, so much so that sometimes, they don’t even want to come home. They are spoilt with their favourite grandparent-made foods, with love and treats and staying up late; things that are a welcome break from their routines as well. They’re given the opportunity to do the stuff that we often don’t have time for – to make cupcakes, roll out pizza dough and have mini movie marathons in bed. With ice cream.
That’s what I’ve come to learn about date nights. They’re not just about you and your partner having some much-needed time away to relax and re-group for a second; they’re about your kids doing the same. Because while we all talk about how our kids drive us crazy from time to time, we do the same to them and quite frankly, they deserve a break from US. That’s why when the opportunity for a night out comes up, we’re ALL excited to head in different directions and know that when we come back together, we’re all better for it.
How often do you have date nights?
Here, Monty and Nat Bass talk about the ups and downs of relationships and the importance of date nights: