I’ve mentioned our in-home date nights in passing several times but thought they deserved a post of their own.
This weekly tradition originated back when we were financially strapped entrepreneurs. Living in a small space without much access to childcare – and without any real means or desire to spend exorbitant sums of money on eating out – we got into the routine of celebrating in-home date nights.
The name is important. Date nights. They are planned and they are structured and they are just for us and they span most of an evening. The kids know to respect this time each week. Date nights are treated as sacred and, within reason, non-negotiable. We screen calls and don’t make plans with friends. When company visits or we’re away on family vacations, we roll with it, but as soon as we’re settled into our regular routine, date nights come right back.
When John started traveling extensively for work this was an important time for us to reconnect and recharge. After being gone for a week (or weeks) at a time (and eating most meals in restaurants) he just wanted to stay put and enjoy home cooking. With COVID eliminating many of the options for babysitting and restaurants, the last 18 months have further cemented our love for – and commitment to – this weekly habit.
It started out as one night per week, but now we generally do “date night” both Saturday AND Sunday.
What do your kids do?
This has evolved over time. Now that they’re older, we feed them supper relatively early (between 5-6 pm). They LOVE these suppers as I usually read to them while they eat and we make something quick and kid-friendly like Mac n’ Cheese, egg burritos, or toast.
One night we will usually let them watch a pre-approved video together on a laptop in one of their bedrooms starting around 6:30. The other night we’ll send them to their rooms by 6:30/7:00ish to read and play independently. Yes, this is early. Yes, it is good for them to read and have quiet time (these date nights often follow full days of family adventuring). Most importantly it’s good for our marriage, and that is ultimately what is best for the kids!
What do you eat?
I love routine and really enjoy eating the same meals over and over. For date nights John is almost always in charge of food. He is an amazing cook; creative and a flavour genius. He would gladly spend lots of time and energy shopping and prepping, but we’ve settled into a routine of having:
- Our version of Eggs Benedict (we used to make Eggs Benny from scratch, making authentic Hollandaise over a waterbath and poaching eggs. Now we take a few shortcuts that are arguably even more delicious). We serve soft pan-fried eggs over my all-time favourite waffles with smoked salmon/bacon/ham + John’s custom mayo-based sauce (mayo + a tiny bit of maple syrup, nutritional yeast, cayenne pepper, and mustard – sounds a bit suspicious, but is amazing).
- Take-out sushi. Always a crowd pleaser.
- Hand-rolled sushi. We used to make regular sushi from scratch. It was delicious but a big time commitment. Now we buy the individual packets of nori and cook up sticky rice + julienne some raw veg + select a protein. We’ll top a sheet of nori with a spoonful of rice, add a few slices of veggie, a bit of protein (John will often make a spicy crab filling), and then just fold it up and dip in soy sauce (with wasabi mixed in).
- Corn tortillas filled with fish or another protein and some grilled veggies with roasted potatoes on the side.
- Stuffed pasta (purchased, not homemade) coated in either a simple mix of butter and herbs or a specific jarred rosée sauce we like.
We do branch out beyond this, but the above represents pretty typical date-night fare.
What do you do?
We almost always watch a movie.
John is a big movie buff and audiophile, so the entertainment experience is a tested-and-true experience. With offerings from Disney+ and Netflix, it’s generally very affordable as well.
While some people might scoff at date nights involving a screen (we even eat our supper while watching the movie), it works for us. One friend of mine from university days – who happens to be a huge foodie – does a similar in-home date night with her husband but they’re the type that makes a 3-course meal complete with fine china, linen napkins and candles.
You do you.
The specifics of date night don’t matter much – it’s the principal of setting time aside to prioritize being together and recognizing it doesn’t have to involve complicated logistics or stretched budgets.
We love to adventure together and appreciate a range of culinary experiences…but between COVID and work schedules and the challenges (and expense) of childcare, getting away for a long trip – or even a night out – can be tricky. Enter in-home date nights: one of our favourite marital traditions and something I would recommend to every couple – newly married or seasoned veterans.