Date Night: Tips for having a great 'kid free' night out

Catherine of Tactile Tots gives us some honest advice on the prospect of 'date night' when you have small children.

Before we became parents, I have to admit that I had no concept of a “date night”. We just went to the pub, a restaurant or the cinema and I have to admit I found the whole idea of organising an evening solely to be romantic a bit naff. Plus, we never really dated even when we were “dating” as 1) we aren’t American and 2) we were poor students when we first met, so eating chips from the same tray was our idea of a romantic night out.

But becoming a parent changes all of that!!

Catherine Tactile Tots

You can no longer pop out on a whim and if you don’t make really firm plans you just end up staying in and falling asleep. Added to this is that the thought process involved in coordinating a babysitter, a restaurant booking, having clean clothes to wear and shaving your much-neglected legs, makes organising a simple date night a challenge akin to Brexit negotiations! 

But no matter how much you cherish your precious bundle, I guarantee that you will one day, reach a point where sharing the sofa in a semi-conscious, snot stained state, is no longer good for you or your relationship.

And so about 14 months into parenthood Mr Tots and I finally accepted we needed a date night! Roll on another four months and finally (FINALLY) we have achieved the fabled level of organisation required and have our first parent date night booked for next week!! 

Not just any date night mind, oh no we are going to the launch party of Winchester’s newest venue Turtle Bay! To drink rum, eat Caribbean food and maybe even talk to each other.

Excitement does not even come close and happy in the knowledge that our mini Tot will be in the loving care of the grandparents, we have started planning our outfits like excited, teenagers attending our first school disco. 

Although, I was disappointed that Mr Tots was decidedly unenthusiastic about my proposal for conversation suggestion cards! “Don’t be ridiculous we will have plenty to talk about!” he scoffed! Ha-ha I think, little does he know my brain no longer contains interesting adult conversations or the power to hold the in-depth political debates we once did! 

Now my only contribution to conversation is making what I consider to be a very convincing giraffe noise and boasting that I can build all of the suggested combinations in the Duplo set with ease! Hardly the recipe for romance!

So, in order to make our date night (eurgh) a resounding success I did what all sensible grown-ups do and turned to Google for inspiration and advice. Fun date night fact; in 2013 the Norwegian government actually encouraged their citizens to go on date nights in order to help reduce the country’s rising divorce rates… (hmm actually that hasn’t helped its just upped the pressure!)

And so, with the looming threat of divorce if the date night isn’t a success(!) here are the tips most suggested by the internet for date night:

1) Stick to the plan, even when you’re tired.

2) Laugh, this isn’t the time to have tough conversations.

3) Keep it simple and fun.

4) Don’t put too much pressure on it being the perfect evening.

5) Try not to talk about the children ALL night

and with all that in mind off we go for our date night… 

After date night!

First off and I know I probably shouldn’t say this, but one of the parts of the night I enjoyed most was being able to indulge in getting ready really slowly! The process of applying make-up, drying and straightening my hair and having a shower alone was an absolute treat compared to my usual 10 second frantic rubbing of moisturiser into my porridge smeared face!

And were the internet tips a resounding success??

Well actually (surprisingly) Yes! 

  1. We stuck to our plan, despite feeling permanently tired and managed to stay up to 11pm (a rare feat)! 

Top tip 1: Get the babysitter over early, then you can get ready in peace instead of trying to juggle bath and bed time. This meant we weren’t frazzled before the night had even begun.

  1. The great atmosphere created in the new Turtle Bay made us feel like we were on holiday. It was vibrant, busy and relaxed, mixed in a few rum punches and we did indeed laugh. Although admittedly it was largely at Mr Tots expense as he attempted to dance to the intoxicating, live reggae music.
  2. As a recipe for a good date night Turtle Bay makes it as simple as it could be. Good food + great atmosphere + rum – snot = a fab night! 
  3. The perfect night it was not but it didn’t need to be as we just enjoyed being together as a couple. Both of us suffered a shoe related drama during the evening (him losing his before we even left the house, me twisting my ankle in ridiculous high heels and landing gracefully on my bottom whilst at the bar) but we still managed to have a great time.

Top tip 2: I can definitely see how the pressure of the “date night” could easily end up ruining your precious night out, so in the immortal words of Frozen just “let it go”. If you have a row about putting shoes in the shoe rack (ahem) before even leaving the house the rest of the night can only go downhill.

  1. Even though my conversation topic cards were rejected, we had no problem avoiding baby talk! In fact, the music, people and surroundings allowed us to just a couple, like we used to be. We chatted, we reminisced and most importantly we listened whole heartedly to each other, with the only interruption being the next tasty item on the menu arriving.

So in conclusion and despite my cynicism date night wasn’t such a naff thing to do. As ever the Scandinavians seem have the right idea, a bit of investment in your relationship makes you both feel renewed and a little goes a long way. 

Date night doesn’t have to a big, expensive deal it just needs to be about you and you’re partner remembering you’re more than just parents! 

And finally, …

Top tip 3: Don’t wear massive heels, when your no longer used to them…my bruised bottom is still punishing my vanity (crying face emoji).

To find out more about Catherine and her business Tactile Tots, visit her website or drop her an email.  Alternatively, follow her on FacebookInstagram or Twitter.