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Friday, January 30, 2015

From Sitters to Bedtime Routines: 5 Date Night Tips for Parents


How do you keep the romance alive after kids? Do you go out or stay home? Do you hire a sitter or ask for family to help? And how do you make sure your kids don't get out of their routine when mom & dad go out? When did date nights get so complicated???

Will & I try to sneak in a date night once a month. It doesn't always happen, and what gets considered a 'date night' can sometimes be a flexible term. ;) But we make the effort and what we do ultimately depends on what we're in the mood for; it doesn't always involve getting dressed up & going out (even though I love an excuse to see my hubby dressed up!), it can be something as simple as takeout & a movie. The important thing is that we make time to spend together just the two of us and reconnect; no messes, no crayons, just us. Since having Ari it's harder to enjoy one- on- one time; even having a conversation at dinner can be challenging some nights. So while it takes more effort to organize, we know it's important to spend time just the two of us.

February 14th is a reminder about our relationship status and for parents it can be a humorous time to reflect on life before kids. Whether you & hubby make a big deal out of Valentine's Day or are just wanting to plan a much- needed date night, it's important to make time for each other. The unique challenge parents face is juggling their kid's routines while trying to grab a few precious hours to spend alone to reconnect (plus the planning it can take to organize). 

So to help parents plan a date night- from finding a sitter to dealing with nighttime routines- Marnie from Cheeky Chops Consulting has some tips to help you enjoy some precious one- on- one time. If you & hubby are in need of some alone time (when diapers & crayons aren't the only topic of conversation!), I hope these tips help you get some romance in! 



The challenges when trying to organize date nights after kids can be an opportunity to come up with new date ideas. 
First it's hard to find the time and energy! It's also difficult to find a babysitter that you and your kids both love and trust (lucky you if you have family ready to help out!). Depending on the child's sleep habits, some parents are also nervous because bedtime is very difficult, there are multiple wakings, baby only falls asleep while nursing, and so on. That all being said, use the opportunity to get creatives with ideas. Especially when you have a new baby & young family, it can be hard to step out for a whole night. Think of activities you can enjoy that you can fit into a few hours. 

Worried about disturbing your kid's routines? Dates don't have to happen after dark or require going out.
There are many ways to enjoy a nice date; You can go out for a lunch date instead of dinner so that takes the sleep worry out of the equation. At-home dates can also be lots of fun! You put the kids to bed, make some food or get take out, and enjoy some relaxing time! Mobile spa services/ massage therapy services can be a great way to relax in the comfort of your own home and these mobile services are gaining in popularity (check out this post with Ultimate Mobile Spa for ideas!). Another way is to go out after the kids are in bed; appies and a movie usually work great for a date after bedtime since lots of movie play after 8:30pm. And of course you can hire your favorite sitter for a date night and go out to do whatever you heart desires. 

Find a sitter your kids love.
A great way to find a good sitter is to ask around. This way you get real feedback from people you know and trust. About 2/3 of people lie on their resume, so put that in babysitting context and you get an idea of why it's important to ask around. You can also ask your family to take your little one for the night; either drop the kids off or have family come over to your house. Your friends can also be great help and take care of your little one while you get some time to reconnect with your hubby (take turns babysitting & make date nights a regular occasion!). It's great to have a sitter come to your house, but it can also be fun for your kids to spend time or sleep over at someone else's house (think overnight play dates & take turns watching the kiddos!).

Prepare your kids for date night so they understand what's going on.
One of the most important things before leaving your child for a date night is to make sure that they know the babysitter and feel comfortable with her/him. If you have just hired a new one, have them come over at least once or twice to meet and play with your child before your date night. Then you can explain to your child that mom & dad love them very much but that they need some time to spend together too. Make sure you tell your child that you will be back (for example, 'mom and dad are going out for a few hours and then we will be back home. We will see you in the morning and give you big snuggles!'). Then you can tell them that the babysitter will be putting him/her to bed and that it will be similar to what they know; make sure you make having a babysitter a fun and exciting thing, something that they will look forward to. The first time someone else puts your little one to bed can be a little upsetting for them (for some it doesn't bother them at all!), but they do adjust.

Leave tips with the sitter
Children like consistency and predictability so leaving the sitter with a outline of the bedtime routine is very important. Make sure that your sitter understands the routine and follows it; this will make the whole process easier on your child. It also means that you won't wake up to a grumpy child the following morning because they were kept up past their bedtime. Allow for a little flexibility since your child may not behave or settle the same for someone else (they may even go to bed easier!), but over time they'll get used to having others help put them to bed.

What are some tips you would add? How do you & hubby make time for each other since having kids? I'd love to know! :)

For more great sleep advice from Marnie, check out this post & this post.

How's the sleep & bedtime routine in your house?
If you'd like to learn more about Marnie & her sleep consulting services you can find her on the CheekyChops website and Facebook.




January posts sponsored by Little Dreamers Consulting