The average parent hasn't had a romantic night out in 3 years

Feb. 14, 2020

When was the last time you and your partner got all dolled up and went out for a special night on the town? If your answer is “so long ago I almost can’t remember,” you’re in good company. A new survey released by OnePoll and Groupon shows the average parent of school-aged kids hasn’t been on a romantic date in three years.

The study examined the romantic habits of 2,000 parents with kids ages 5-18:

Looking at the hard numbers, it may seem like moms and dads are in the midst of a romance emergency. But, it’s also not hard to understand why that is. As of 2015, 46% of two-parent households are also two-income households, meaning both parents work. How that shakes out is different for each family, but with the possibility of long hours, split shifts and everything else that goes along with having a job, work undoubtedly eats up a huge chunk of parents’ time.

When they aren’t at work, a lot of parents are also stuck in an endless cycle of dishes, laundry, carpool duty, meal planning, grocery shopping and other decidedly unsexy household tasks. The average working adult spends over 12 hours a week on housework and five hours on shopping. 

And then there’s the challenge of securing child care. While there are plenty of innovative ways to find a great babysitter, the price of a romantic night out can get pretty steep. In the U.S., the average cost of a babysitter is $16.25 per hour. The rate may be lower or higher depending on where you live, and quality child care is certainly worth the money, but it’s still a significant expense parents have to budget for.

When you add it all up, romantic nights out can quickly start to feel like a luxury parents just don’t have the time or money for. Still, most parents realize how important it is to try. Around 81% of parents surveyed by OnePoll and Groupon say they know they need to “step things up” and have more frequent date nights.

How some parents are making the time

The question is: How do you do that? We asked some real parents how they make time for those all-important nights out, and they had some good ideas for how to fit romance in even when it seems inconvenient.

Monthly dates (when weekly dates feel out of reach)

“My husband and I have a standing date night once a month,” says Christine Thompson, a mom of two from Chicago, Illinois. “Once a month works because it gives us time to budget for it, and it’s spaced out enough that we don’t feel constant pressure to plan something fun the way we would with a weekly date night.”

Breakfast dates (when evenings are packed to the gills)

Another parent says she and her husband squeeze in romantic dates by being flexible with their timing and getting help from other couples. “We do breakfast dates,” says April Salazar, a mom of one from Brooklyn, New York. “We also take advantage of parents night out at daycare, and we're getting ready to do a swap with another couple, as in we'll take their kids so they can go out and they'll take our kid another night.”

Parent play dates (when they have soccer, you have supper)

And Megan Zander, a mom of two from Danbury, Connecticut, says she and her husband have learned to find romance in whatever small moments they can steal together. “My partner and I use the kids’ evening sports practices as a chance to grab dinner together or have a long coffee and conversation like before we became parents,” she says.

As a parent, it may not be easy to find time to be together, but it’s still possible. The trick is figuring out what works best for your schedule, family and budget. And you never know, just working together to plan a special night out might be the love boost you need to get that flame burning again.

Tips and stories from parents and caregivers who’ve been there.

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