Make Time for Parents’ Night Out

We all love our kids, but every parent needs a break now and then. If you’re married or in a relationship, it’s important to spend one-on-one time with your significant other to reconnect as a couple — or even just finish a conversation! Psychologists say that a strong relationship with your partner is one of the best things you can do for your children. And for single parents, spending time with other adults is key to combatting burnout and isolation.

But making that grownups’ night out happen can be tough. You’re busy, babysitters are expensive, and you may feel guilty about leaving the kids at home. Here’s why you should do it anyway, along with some fun — and even free — ways for you to carve out some time just for you.

What’s in it for you?
When you spend time away from the kids, whether it’s going out to a movie or going on a weekend getaway, you get a break from the constant responsibility of taking care of other people. Parenting small children is especially demanding, and just being able to sit down and enjoy a leisurely meal with your partner may feel like a vacation.

Not only will you relax and have fun, but taking a mental and physical break from your daily life can recharge your batteries and help you tackle things better when you get back. And guess what else happens when you spend time away from your kids? You actually miss them! You’ve heard the expression, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder,” haven’t you?

What’s in it for your kids?
Date night or a girls’ night out is beneficial not only for you, but also for your kids. When you leave your children with a babysitter, grandparents, or other trusted adult who loves them, you give them the opportunity to form stronger bonds and to feel safe when they are away from you.

This also exposes kids to new things, perhaps even new foods, new activities, or a new way of reading their favorite bedtime story. Many a parent has been pleasantly surprised to return home and have their sitter report that their veggie-averse child tried cauliflower for the first time or put up no fuss at bedtime!

Beyond dinner and a movie
While nothing’s wrong with dinner and a movie with your spouse or happy hour with pals, there are plenty of other options for fun grown-up time away from the kids, and some are even free. Here are some ideas.

  • Instead of a dinner date, why not arrange to meet your spouse or a friend for lunch? If the kids are at school or daycare, you won’t even need to pay a sitter.
  • Swap kids with a friend or neighbor for a few hours on a weekend afternoon so the child-free couple can catch a matinee or go for a hike.
  • Take up a hobby — research shows that couples who share new experiences together, especially active pursuits, are happier. Anyone for tennis?
  • Does your gym or health club offer childcare? Many do, and the cost may be minimal or even included in your membership. Working up a sweat with your spouse is healthy and fun.
  • What did you enjoy doing before you had kids? Sometimes revisiting that part of your life — say, by going to a rock concert or having a picnic in the park — may reignite the spark of those first dates with your partner.
  • Thanks to Netflix and Redbox, renting a movie to watch after the kids are in bed is easy and cheap — and you can choose something that is not animated and doesn’t have talking animals for a change.
  • Another option for parents with older children is to pay a tween or teen sibling to watch the little ones while Mom and Dad sneak off to another part of the house to watch a movie or have a conversation in peace.
  • Why not do something out of the ordinary on your next night out? The Musselman’s Family Skating Tribute, held at the Pegula Ice Arena, is certainly fun for families. But it’s also a great idea for date night. Or grab your girlfriends and make it a moms’ night out!

What do you enjoy doing during your time away from your kids? Let us know on Facebook.