Do you go on dates with your significant other? One evening a week, get a babysitter and enjoy a romantic evening out with your sweetie.
So say the relationship gurus, whose target audience must be richer than me.
Your relationship is worth the investment.
Nope, I’m pretty sure my marriage would suffer if we invested in date nights once a week. Why? Because we’d be broke and unhappy. But I do agree with the gurus that spending time with one’s S. O., intentionally, is important.
We do hire evening sitters from time to time, or take advantage of Parent’s Night Out so we can cut loose. But I’m writing today about some cheaper date alternatives I’ve enjoyed with my spouse and that you might like to try, if you are into saving cash and getting creative.
All of the following “date night” ideas are actually things we’ve done on the lunch hour. Aside from their low cost, I find that lunchtime dates are ideal for several reasons. One, I’m often tired by 8 or 9pm, when a post-dinner film or play would start, but I’m not tired yet at noon. Two, going out while the kids are in school helps me avoid worrying about whether the babysitter is following house protocol for hamster-play safety and (kid) tooth brushing. And three, spending time doing things other than the traditional date night things inspires a greater variety of conversations than we might otherwise have. Talking is good for relationships and much better than going broke.
So here are a few mid-day date options to consider:
1. Take lunch outside.
This could be a picnic in your own backyard, with sandwiches made from peanut butter from your own cupboard. Or you could get fancy and take some subs to a local park.
2. Go for a bike ride.
In Sacramento we are spoiled rotten, with our American River Bike Trail. But maybe there’s a place near you where you could ride, or just have a walk.
3. Get in the hot tub.
I love the outdoor hot tub on a chilly or rainy day. The only hot tub we have access to is at our gym, where during the noon hour we’re likely to share the bubbles with one or more elderly tennis players or aqua aerobics participants. But that is OK. Conversation is good, remember?
4. Go shopping for something you otherwise wouldn’t enjoy shopping for.
I don’t like to go shopping for anything much. Not toilet paper, not clothes. I don’t even like shopping for office supplies.
I know. Weird.
But one time my husband took me to Office Depot on our lunch date, because I’d been whining about how my office chair didn’t fit me right and was giving me a sore back. How do you like this mesh one? Ooh, let’s try out the swivel action. He’d try out one chair and I’d test another. Mine leans back, does yours? Why yes, it does, he said, with a fake Guy Noir accent, miming a pull on his stogie.
5. Get flu shots together.
I feel the same about shots as I do about shopping. But if you get the shots at Rite Aid you can get their dollar ice cream cone right after for a reward. So.
6. Take a trip down nostalgia lane at the thrift shop.
Again, I’m not much of a shopper, but the thrift store has lots of conversation starters. Hey, my grandma used to have one of these, did yours? And so on.
7. Try a new food, or just enjoy a good gawk, at an ethnic grocery.
I don’t consider the ethnic grocery to be “shopping” but rather, like the thrift shop, a conversation generator. Gawking at food you don’t normally buy is a little like going to a museum, but cheaper than museum admission. Unless, like me, you do end up going a little crazy and buying moong dal and curry pastes and cardamom candy and chocolate Hobnobs. The pictures below are from India Fiji Food & Fashion in Arden Arcade and Touch of Britain in North Highlands, Sacramento.