You and your partner are always on the run — working, caring for the kids, cleaning — so free time is limited and valuable. Date night is often the first thing jettisoned when you’re crunched for time, so you barely get a chance for dinner and a movie, let alone trying any creative date ideas.
That being said, certified life coach Laurie Jacobsen says it’s vital that you make time for dates for the good of your relationship: “Removing yourself from your day-to-day environment, where bills rule and dogs bark, is important because it allows you to relax with your partner in a way that can’t typically be done at home.” Carrie Cole, a licensed counselor at the Center for Relationship Wellness in Texas, says that regular dates create a ritual of connection and give couples a sense of shared meaning. “Time spent together unifies you as a couple and creates a sense that you’re in it together.”
Simply spending time together as a couple and doing new things often has a dramatic effect on a relationship, Jacobsen says. “It really sets a priority as to what and who is important in the relationship,” she says. “You’re saying to your partner, ‘You are important enough to me to make a plan to spend time together.'”
30 Minutes Is All It Takes
So you know the value of date night, but how do you find the time? The great news is that you don’t have to squeeze another few hours into your day. Just 30 minutes together regularly will yield the benefits Cole and Jacobsen describe.
Here are nine creative date ideas you can fit into just 30 minutes. If necessary, you can post a date night job to find a babysitter to help you out, or get a friend or family member to watch the kids for a little while. You could even try swapping “date time babysitting” with a friend!
1) Play Around
Go to a playground near your house and hit the swings. Have a competition to see who can swing the highest.
2) Dance Party
Buy a tiny disco ball and have a two-person dance party. Create a playlist with songs that are meaningful to you and your partner, and then dance your heart out.
3) Ice Cream Sundae Bar
Bring home deluxe ice cream fixings. After the kids go to bed, set up your own ice cream sundae bar.
4) Photo Scavenger Hunt
Go on a photo scavenger hunt around the house. Each of you can create a short list of scavenger items that connect to your relationship — say, wedding photos or meaningful mementos — and send your partner on the hunt. Have a prize for the person who finishes first or the person who takes the most creative shots.
5) Picnic Time!
Have a picnic in your own backyard. Pack a basket of yummy eats and a blanket, and head out to the coziest space in your backyard.
6) Book Club for Two
Buy a book to read together. During your 30-minute date, take turns reading to each other.
7) Take a Walk
Take a walk in your neighborhood. Make sure you hold hands, talk and connect.
8) Board Game Night
Turn off the TV and play cards. Get out of your Netflix rut for a more interactive evening. Don’t like cards? Try a favorite (or new!) board game instead.
9) Wine & Cheese Night
Buy a bottle of wine and small appetizers from a country you dream of visiting or visited together. Spend your date reminiscing or sharing stories about your adventures.
Kimberly DeMucha Kalil is a freelance journalist and software consultant living in southern Arizona with her husband and two children. She and her husband try to fit in regular date nights but are also happy for a quiet walk around their neighborhood without their kids.