I love my kids. I gotta be honest, hiring a babysitter to go out on a date with my husband is expensive! You end up paying $40-50 for the sitter + the cost of your activity + the cost of dinner for the babysitter/kids + an Uber ride to and from. It adds up!
With two little kids I felt like I was never going on a date with my husband again. Besides the cost, when did we have time? That’s when I heard of a genius idea. It’s called a date night swap. Find another set of parents and have them watch your kids for free, then do the same for them in return. It’s an easy way to go on a date without paying a babysitter a fortune.
Here’s how to plan for it!
- Talk to local parents you know and trust to see who’s interested. It’s best to find a couple who has the same number of kids as you do. This makes the swap fair. I casually brought it up to a few of my friends and while everyone said it sounded good, not everyone followed through when I reached out to actually schedule the first dates. You have to find a couple who wants it as much as you do.
- Pick both calendar dates at the same time. This is key because our calendars fill up quickly and things like date nights get pushed to the bottom of the priority list. It’s best to get on the phone and both select dates and times for the swap ahead of time. For us, this usually means a month ahead.
- Determine where your kids will be watched. You have two options. Your kids either stay at your home or go to theirs. Both have their pros and cons as described by both viewpoints below. My tip is to decide what activity you’ll do during date night. Will you be drinking? Are you going to stay in?
For the parents who are babysitting
- Watching their kids at your house: In my opinion,this makes things easier on you. It means you can watch all the kids together and even spend some quality time with your spouse after all the kids go down to sleep. It is exhausting for sure and your house will look like a tornado afterwards, but your kids will be worn out from the playdate, making for an enjoyable morning after. You also don’t feel like you must rigorously clean your house. It’s nice to hang in your PJs and relax in your own home and have access to your own things.
- Watching their kids at their house: Although I miss my kids, it’s refreshing watching someone else’s. You get to know their kids and learn their routines. You also get some quality alone time with yourself once the kids are in bed. It’s been great opportunity for me to catch up on good books, surf the web or catch up on a TV or movie on my laptop. It’s like a private date with yourself!
For the date night parents
- Leaving your kids your house: For me, it’s stressful. I feel like I have to clean my entire house from top to bottom (including my messy closets). I also feel obligated to cook an amazing meal for my kids and friend. On the plus side, it’s nice that it doesn’t disrupt my kid’s daily bedtime routines. And it’s great that you don’t have to worry about having a designated driver. You and your spouse can enjoy a cocktail and not worry about picking up your kids.
- Dropping your kids off at their house: It’s nice to not have to clean your own house. You just have to pack a bag for your kids (including PJs, toothbrushes, and a pack-n-play for infants). You also will wake the kids up when you put them into the car and take them home. Depending on how easily your kids will go back to sleep, this can be a huge negative. You also have to make sure someone is a designated driver to take the kids home.
- Keep it going. This is the most difficult part. Right now, I have two friends who are willing to date night swap. On average, we do a swap with each couple every other month. It’s really hard with extracurricular activities, family, and work travel to plan ahead AND align it with fun things to do in our town. I try to reach out within 2 weeks of the date night to schedule the next one.
This might seem like a lot of work, but you deserve it and so does your relationship. Good luck and happy date night!