You can plan your kid’s social calendar like a pro. But when it comes to planning a date with your spouse … eh, not so much. Try this list of inspired date night ideas that’ll get you back in the game. Some of them don’t even require a babysitter!  

Score a skilled sitter. Having a successful date night is all about the sitter. Find one who can handle your kids’ nighttime routine, so you don’t have to wait till they’re down (and you’re totally exhausted) before you hit the town. Simply hand them off and head out, knowing they’re in safe and competent hands.

Schedule a parallel movie night. If your kids are old enough, head to the movies with them, but then ditch them … when you split up to see different movies. Drop them outside the theater showing the latest kids blockbuster before wandering down the hall to see your movie pick. Plan to meet up in the theater lobby when the movies are finished.

Schedule the year in advance. Your calendar is full of commitments, but is a much-needed date night on there? Approach date night the way you would any other scheduling commitment, and we bet you’ll get a lot more of them! Pick a consistent date—like the 2nd Saturday of every month, for example—then book your favorite sitter for that date every month for the whole year.

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Hit the gym. Take advantage of your gym’s childcare center, and schedule a workout date with your mate. Go the distance with a machine workout or take a class together while you’re there. Don’t forget a boosted smoothie post calorie burn, pre-kid pickup, to add an air of romance to the whole affair.

Trade sitting duties. Barter babysitting duties with your neighbors or besties and everybody wins! Plan a date, make the kid trade and enjoy your night on the town. Next month, it’s their turn for date night. The best part? Sure, your kid-load has doubled, but they entertain each other!

Try a birthday party date. The next time your half-pint’s got a drop-off birthday party scheduled, take full advantage. Drop him off, then explore nearby shops, restaurants and sights with your better half.

Find a local Parents’ Night Out. Museums do it. So do kiddie gyms and play centers. Churches and synagogues too. Dial into your area’s Parents’ Night Out offerings and then sign up your crew. They’ll be infinitely entertained, and you’ll get some much-needed Q.T.

Try an upstairs/downstairs date. This one’s all about territory. Parents in one half of the house, kids in the other. Everyone gets to do their thing, in their space. Set a timer to help the kids figure out where they can be and when.

Develop a date night jar. If planning the date is what holds you up, wade into the creative mire once then reap the benefits every time you and your honey go out. Take time to plan out a ton of dates. Write down your zany ideas on small pieces of paper and keep them in a mason jar. Then when the date night itch hits, pull one out, and make it happen!

Go on a day date. You schedule lunch meetings with co-workers, so why not try it with your spouse? Put it in your work calendar; then make it happen. A breakfast date, after you’ve dropped the kids at daycare or school, works too. Let’s do lunch!

Meet up for a late date. Make a kitchen rendezvous with your S.O. once the kids are asleep. On the menu? A decadent dessert with drinks to match over candlelight. Shall we say 10 p.m., by the sink?

Challenge yourself with a purse dump. Planning isn’t your thing? No problem. Let the contents of your purse be your guide. Dump out your cash, count it up, then plan out an evening at that price. Only have 75 cents? Sounds like a scenic walk might be the perfect date at that price. Less than $5 in your wallet? Splitting a froyo it is! You’ll be surprised at how creative the two of you can be!

Use playdate time wisely. Sure, the dishes need to be washed and the laundry in the dryer is getting more wrinkled by the minute. But that can wait. It’s time for an impromptu date. Send your kiddo off to her playdate, then you do you—popcorn and a flick, cook a foodie fest—whatever you and your partner enjoy doing, now’s the time.

Meet in the mini-van. If your family vehicle has screens, then this is the date for you. Once the kids are asleep head to the backseat with your favorite movie, buttered popcorn and a blanket for snuggling. Don’t forget the baby monitor in case you’re needed. Lights, camera, action!

—Allison Sutcliffe 

All pictures from pixabay.com unless otherwise noted.

Feature photo: Simon Rae on Unsplash

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