Before I quit drinking alcohol back in 2010, a typical date night for my husband and I meant dinner (plus drinks) and drinks. Oh, and then drinks after dinner. Then, if we still had anything left in us after the date, more drinks at home after the kids were in bed.
Especially after we had our first baby, when we got a rare date night, we didn’t want to waste our time doing anything but drinking our new-parent frustrations away and trying to find the “old” us that was hidden under layer upon layer of sleep deprivation and Elmo-induced brain atrophy. In fact, back in those days, a date night activity that didn’t involve alcohol felt like punishment. Why even bother?
Then, I quit drinking, and I remember feeling very lost when we got our first, long-overdue date night. What on earth were we supposed to do on a date night now if I couldn’t drink? I’d be lying if I said that I remember what we did on those first few sober date nights, but now that I’ve been doing sober date nights for awhile, I feel like I have a better-stocked arsenal of date night ideas that don’t involve drinking.
So, here are 8 date night ideas that don’t completely revolve around alcohol, in case you’re a teetotaler (like me), maybe you’re pregnant and miss being able to drink on date night or maybe you’re just looking for ways to have fun without the hooch every now and then.
1: Go to the movies: Of course, there’s a new wave of movie theater “experience” that incorporates drinking into enjoying a movie. We have Alamo Drafthouse where we live and fancier versions in the larger cities nearby, but I enjoy a good movie on a date night. I think it’s a real treat to go and watch a movie that I choose, that doesn’t involve a Pixar character, nor an animated version of Justin Timberlake singing top-40 hits. Plus, I’m all about getting candy or another sweet treat that I don’t have to share.
2: Play mini-golf: Going to play mini-golf WITHOUT your kids might seem cruel, but nobody said that you have to tell your kids where you went on date night, right? I think that mini-golf is all kinds of fun. You want to know what makes it even more fun? When you can get fiercely competitive with your partner and play your heart out without having to give up a shot for your kid or wait as your 1st grader takes 52 shots on a par 4.
3: Costco run: Lame, right? But, imagine this: Costco After Dark. Way less crowded than your usual Saturday, at 11am Costco run. Plus, you and your partner can carefully critique the differences between the latest and greatest televisions that Costco has to offer. You can wander around, gathering samples without having to bite your Kirkland-brand peanut butter cup into 4 equal portions so that your toddler and 4 year old don’t lose their minds in the middle of the store. Better yet? Pick up the toilet paper and kitty litter that you’ve been putting off purchasing and have your spouse load it in the back of your minivan for you. Now, that’s what I call foreplay! Meeeeow!
4: Go to the museum: Many museums offer an after-hours happy hour every month or so. Yes, booze is usually the primary focus of these events but you can take the opportunity to see the museum without the large crowds who are typically there during normal business hours. A museum membership is sometimes required to attend these events, but museum memberships are awesome for families to take advantage of anyway. They always pay for themselves in just a couple of visits and they afford you the luxury of going to the museum on a rainy day to see the one thing that you kid cares about seeing and then leaving directly after. No need to try and get your money’s worth out of a single day ticket.
5: Linger at a coffee shop: Since I quit drinking, coffee shops have become a favorite place of mine. I never cared to have coffee after the hours of about 10am before, but now, an after dinner coffee is a special treat (and sometimes necessary to stay awake past 9pm). Coffee shops are also good places to go and have a nice, uninterrupted conversation with your spouse. I love to people watch there also. All good things…
6: Take in some community theater: Most communities–no matter how small or large–have community theater. Some of the productions are really, really good and some of them….aren’t. But, on date night, it doesn’t matter. You’re out of the house, sans kids. There’s often beer and wine available in the lobby of these productions, but it’s not pushed on you like it is in, say, comedy clubs. Go check out a local production and remark at how talented (or not!) your neighbors are.
7: Church activities: Most churches have opportunities to be social with other couples every now and then (if not more often). I’ve heard great things about “small groups,” that give you the opportunity to meet other people from the church outside of services. Our church has classes and seminars as well that would be good to do on a date night.
8: Shopping: There’s something rather appealing about going shopping with your spouse without the kids in tow. To leisurely browse on your own time and look at what YOU want to look at, without having to divide your time with your spouse, watching the kids play in the indoor mall playscape while the other runs quickly into Sears to grab a refrigerator filter and a new shirt. Use date night shopping as an opportunity to pick out new dress clothes or new granny panties–whatever makes you feel good. Or, shop at a furniture store for your (perhaps fictitious) dream house. No purchase necessary.
I used to see date night as more of a “treat yo self” night–a night that I could escape my day job and drink to alleviate the stress of parenthood. Every time though, I’d end up feeling like a worse parent–especially when I was hungover the next morning and unable to properly perform even the simplest of parenting duties for my kids. Now that I’m sober, date night is truly a recharge night for me. I get to enjoy my husband’s company and then wake up refreshed the next morning, ready to do this crazy job called “parenting” to the best of my abilities.
What about you? Any sober date night ideas to share?