My husband and I are not super great about formal date nights. It is unfortunate, but neither of us is conditioned to regularly schedule “alone time” on a consistent weekly (or monthly) basis. We are opportunists when we even get a wiff of freedom.
A rated-R movie on the big screen, a nice meal at a high top table, or drinks in the bar area of a fun establishment are typically my routine for planning a true date night. However, since they do not happen all of the time, I work hard to still have a little independent fun from our parenting obligations even if it means our kids will be tagging along with us. I love my daughters and son, but I also crave time with my friends and my spouse. Therefore on occasion, when no sitters are available, I have to get creative for the greater good of my sanity and my marriage. Here are three modified dates that let my husband and me enjoy ourselves and make believe that we are somewhat alone, even if the kids are actually on-hand the entire time.
Going on Walks
My husband and I love to walk. We are probably going to be the type of people that go hiking once we retire. Golfing and fishing may be fun, but in my opinion they do not compare to a scenic foot tour through a nature preserve or stroll in a national park. Since retirement is still a few decades away, we have found a formula that allows for us to take a leisurely family walk with some quiet adult time included.
This past summer my crew went for neighborhood strolls a few times a week. What made these walks a sort-of date, was that my husband and I coerced all three kiddos into strollers on multiple occasions. We have a heavy duty double-stroller (with jogging capability), and one reliable Chicco travel system. How do we get an eight-year-old, plus her two younger siblings to sit contently in strollers? Magic, or to be more exact: screen time. I squirrel away screen time for my kids, so much so that whenever it is offered up they get giddy with excitement and are willing to sit in a stroller and strap on headphones just to stare endlessly at the tablet or LeapPad. This system allows for about three miles of walking and uninterrupted adult conversation between my husband and me. Plus the pushing of the strollers kicks the walking exercise up a notch and makes for a pretty decent work-out.
Okay, this may sound strange and irresponsible, but a lot of breweries are actually family friendly. My spouse and I love craft beer and have found many tap rooms to be enjoyable for all ages. Good food and fun games are typically available.
Since breweries specialize in great tasting beer, they do not cater as much to binge drinkers, drunkenness, and rowdy crowds. I have been to a lot of Midwest breweries that have board games in the corners, decks of cards on the tables, and delicious dessert treats.
Taking the kids to a good brewery feels like a bit of an escape for me, because my husband and I get to enjoy a good beer while my kids are entertained by the fun atmosphere.
Here is a short list of some Midwest brew stops that have been fun for my family:
4 Hands Brewing Company in St. Louis (1220 S. 8th Street): We hit this brewery for lunch while on family vacation. It came after an intense morning spent at the City Museum (which is every kid’s dream place), so my husband and I were ready for an adult beverage. This place had yummy Mexican food and I would strongly recommend their Contact High Wheat Ale. The best part of this brewery was the free video game machines on the second floor. It turned our lunch into a date because our daughters played on video games and left us alone, while our toddler took a nap in the stroller.
Confluence Brewing Company in Des Moines, IA (1235 Thomas Beck Road): This taproom is nice and big, while also having a large assortment of board games. Kids are welcome until 9pm and the brewery keeps root beer on tap and a stock of Gatorade and soda. I would recommend the Irish Twin Belgian Amber.
Jackson Street Brewing in Sioux City, IA (607 5th Street): My favorite brews at this place are the: Woodbury County Stout and Broken Toe IPA. My kids appreciate it because this brewery has board games and also lets you bring in food. This means we can keep the kids elated and content with Happy Meals, cookies, or any other junk food obsession in the hopes of some adult discussion.
Upstream Brewing Company in Omaha, NE (515 S. 11th St and 17070 Wright Plaza) This is a great brewery, with two locations, that offer sit-down, restaurant eating. They have kids’ menus that come with “wikki stix”, which are these bendable wax sticks that can be formed into different shapes and sizes. They are mess-free, and keep children entertained while grown-ups enjoy a craft beer. Upstream has a lot of great seasonal brews, but for their staple beers, I prefer the Firehouse Red Lager and my husband is a fan of the Flagship IPA.
I have never minded hosting an event or two at my house, and even though it takes some prep work food-wise and cleaning-wise, the payoff is usually huge. By hosting a BBQ or dinner in the evening, I can get other families to our house and they bring kids that will actually entertain my children for me. Therefore the grown-ups are able to visit and have some fun, while all of the kiddos run around and get tired. If anyone’s child begins to act naughty, threats of leaving or sending people home usually gets the little ones back in line pretty quickly. My oldest has also learned that if she and her friends can play quietly and help out with the younger children, it means the adults may be willing to stay later into the night. Win-win for all involved.
It is nice to have something to look forward to in the evenings, and a lot of times a BBQ can turn into a bonfire or a night of playing cards with adults, while all of the kids watch a late movie with some even falling asleep on the couches or basement floor space.
None of these date nights are super glamorous, but I can vouch that they are all a lot of fun. Sure, sometimes they are epic failures because my kids are just in no mood to be content. However, I can honestly say that the majority of the time they are worth it and my children behave long enough for me and my husband to laugh and enjoy each other’s company.