Over the weekend we had our most anti-climactic date night ever, but instead enjoyed a cozy night.

My Dad was in town to pick up my mom from a trip, so we felt like we needed to take advantage of the opportunity. So, we enjoyed an early BBQ dinner, got Teagan to sleep by seven, slipped the Jungle Book on for the kiddos, and ducked out the door in time to catch a movie. We had thirty minutes to get across town to the Academy Theater, and we didn’t feel rushed. But a just a couple blocks from our house we got stuck in traffic with a malfunctioning traffic light. It took twenty minutes to get through the intersection and by the time we were through, we felt like turning around and going home. Instead we drove on continuing to discuss our back up options. Since we had just eaten, food didn’t sound appealing. We almost always game to check out a new brewery, but since we had enjoyed an early happy hour on Friday (which was in fact a great date night…just from 3:30 to 5). I suddenly realized that my lips were chapped from too much sun and I still had on my capris yoga pants. Then exhaustion hit, as it often does just after the kids go to bed, and all I wanted was to be at home.

In the end, we did turn around and head home to watch an episode of Mad Men. The only difference than a typical Saturday evening was that I had busted out a box of Reese’s Pieces from my Christmas stocking that I had been planning to sneak it into the theater. After watching Don and Peggy slow dance, we turned off the lights by 8:30.

So, I guess the moral of the story is that I’m done with putting “date night” on a pedestal. We used to only go out every six months or so. Now we take every chance we can, trading with my sister, having the neighbor come over for a few hours, meeting during the day for lunch, whatever it takes to get out together. Getting out more often takes the pressure off of making it a perfect night…so what if our night didn’t match our expectations?

Here are a few “date night” ideas that might not even require a sitter:

  • Binge watch Mad Men on Netflix (or House of Cards)
  • Build a fire in the back yard
  • Play Scrabble at breakfast
  • Do a “double date” and invite another family over something easy like take out
  • Befriend a neighbor who is happy to “watch” your kids sleep
  • Do a babysitting trade once the kids are asleep…the only trick is staying up past 8 yourself

What non-date night strategies do you use?