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I start looking forward to this day the moment it goes on the calendar every month. The night before I am glowing with anticipation.
What is it? It is date day! A full day for just my hubby and me.
Why Date Day Rules & Date Night–Not So Much
I know this isn’t going to work for every couple. I know it is extremely hard to carve out 3 hours one night a month, let alone a whole day–but here is why date day rocks for my husband and I.
I am a morning bird–my husband a night owl. That pretty much makes evening dates a flop. Picture one mate trying to keep their eyes open while the other is talking a mile a minute about their ideas for a new backyard project—not good relationship building time.
Other reasons why date days are awesome
- More choice of activities: Unless it is summer, night hikes or walks can be a bummer. Not many museums are open after 5. A lot of free community activities take place during the daylight hours only.
- Less expensive: Even though the time span is longer, if your babysitting is free (some ideas on how to make that happen in a moment), then there is less expense involved in a date day due to more free activities being available during the day. Get those bikes out of the garage and take a day bike ride. Borrow a friend’s Kayaks, pack a lunch, and paddle around the lake. Window shop that small and quaint town you always zoom by on your way to something more pressing.
- More time to let conversations go deeper: When you only have 2 or 3 hours you often don’t bring up things that are bugging you because you just don’t want to spoil the short time you have. When you have 12 hours you have time to mention it, discuss it, and move on to enjoying one another.
- It strengthens the marriage relationship greater than a date night: These last few years I have lost more loved ones than I wish to count and it has made me realize something–every moment I spend building relationships is never wasted. I will never say, “Man, I wish I chose that day to blog instead of investing it in my marriage.” Yes, we have to earn an income. Yes, we do have to keep our homes to at least minimal hygiene levels. But taking a day off once a month to invest in your marriage will pay back in huge dividends and give you plenty of time for secondary priorities.
How long are our date days?
On average we enjoy 12 hours of uninterrupted couple time during one of our date days. What do we do with it?
Here is what we did on our last date day
- We took a day trip to a larger center 3 hours away and filled the time spent traveling with talking about our current life & dreaming about our life to come.
- We stopped at a locally owned coffee shop for amazing coffee & a cowboy cookie that was out of this world. The cookie caused us to talk about our childhoods–what his mom baked, and what mine did.
- We hit IKEA. While there, we tried out chairs (still hunting for the perfect blogging chair for our room) and looked through kitchen displays discussing how we want to change ours one day. Before leaving we enjoyed a lunch of Swedish meatballs and got chocolate to bring home to the kiddos.
- We stopped at Bass Pro Shop and walked through the camping aisle picking out products that might come in handy for the camping across the USA trip we want to take when the last child flies from the nest. We bought nothing, just dreamed.
- We looked at a lot of Lego. Yep, Lego. We went to The Art Of Brick exhibit. It was awesome!
- We walked for miles along the banks of the Ohio river. During the walk we discussed would we ever move to chase warmer temperatures when the children are gone.
- We ate an awesome dinner.
- We drove home with the sun setting in front of us. Along with sharing thoughts of awe about this amazing treat God put on display for our ride home, we talked about my Tiny House obsession (grab the FYI app if you share my obession). That talked led to a crazy plan to build a smallish cabin in the woods someday–but not authentically Tiny–too scary for my hubby. He just can’t wrap his mind around a composting toilet.
3 Guidelines For A Great Date Day
Hopefully I have you convinced to now try a date day. When you do, here are some guidelines we now follow for ours after learning the hard way what works and what doesn’t.
Set A Budget
It might seem like having a budget will ruin the mode but getting home and realizing what you just spent will ruin your week–bring on the Ramen Noodles, baby. We are broke until pay day.
Date days can involve 2 meals, snacks, and admission prices. I will talk more on how to save money on them in a bit, but for now think about what you can truly spend, take it out in cash, and don’t reach for the credit card when the cash runs out.
Plan Ahead–Just A Little
My husband has a love for being spontaneous, but I would rather have a set plan. After doing both and having both styles of date days flop we now meet in the middle. We pick the town we are heading for and then we create a list of 4 to 6 things we could do in that area. Rarely do we do everything and often we do things that are not even on the list, but having the list keeps us from driving around in circles trying to figure out what we want to see.
Set A ‘No Errands’ Until After A Set Time Rule
Our family lives in a small city that has very little in terms of shopping. Since date day generally involves us driving to a bigger city, we tend to have this mental list of all the places we should hit so as to make thrifty use of the gas. There are groceries we could grab at Sam’s Club, supplies to get at the Big Box Hardware store for our current renovation home, and on and on the list goes.
After one date day that ended up consisting of 80% errands my husband and I set a rule: no errands can be run until after dinner.
3 Ways To Save Money On A Date Day Activities
Pack A Cooler
If the day is nice, a picnic in the park made up of food from home could be romantic and inexpensive.
Although my husband and I haven’t done this yet, we have packed a cooler filled with water, pop, and snacks. Just packing drinks and snacks can save a significant amount of cash.
Look For Free Activities
The Lego exhibit is the first time we have paid for an activity we have done on date day–we generally stick to free activities. Walking the local trails. Window shopping the local shops. Peaking into RV’s at the RV lot while we dream of the day we take off cross country in one.
Check out the town’s tourist website or local newspaper website for more ideas. Another great source for finding out about free activities in the area is by putting out a shout out to friends at work or on your Facebook page.
Look For Discounts
- Check daily deal sites like Groupon or Living Social for deals on restaurants & activities for the area you are going to.
- Check Cardpool for discounted giftcards for the restaurants you like to frequent of for the movie theater where you plan to see a movie at (this will take some advance planning as it takes up to 2 weeks to get the physical gift cards, however the paper ones are delivered within 24 hours to your email inbox).
- Check the restaurant section at Fat Wallet for restaurant coupons and deals.
- Don’t forget about your Swagbucks account. It is an excellent way to earn gift cards for Restaurants doing things you already do online.
3 Inexpensive Childcare Ideas
If your children are still at the age where they cannot be left at home alone, date days can be expensive and out of the reach of many budgets due to the cost of having to pay for childcare. Our children are now all old enough to stay home alone but we have been there and these are a few ways we have cut costs but still gotten great care for our children.
Find Another Couple Willing To Do A Childcare Swap
Perhaps one month friends of yours with children your age could watch your kids for a day while you enjoy a date day and you watch theirs next month so they can do the same.
Grandparents Or Other Family
Usually (although sadly not always) Grandparents can’t wait to get a whole day with grandkids to themselves. If your parents don’t live in the same town, chances are when they visit they won’t mind you leaving the grandkids to them while you take a day off just the 2 of you–after all, once you made them grandparents it is all about the kids.
Aunts and Uncles also might be great candidates for free babysitting.
If The Stars Should Aline & All The Children Are At An Event Without You–Grab It!
I never forget the year we looked at the calendar and realized all three of our children would be at the same church camp at the same time. My husband ran off to his place of employment with the dates in hand and asked for those days off quicker than I could get out the sentence, “We should really do something together while they are gone.”
For great free and inexpensive date ideas check out the book $10 Great Dates: Connecting Love, Marriage, and Fun on a Budget
Have you ever had a date day with your spouse? Got tips to share? Share them in the comments below.
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