Having a baby can make it feel like your social life evaporates. You and your significant other might feel trapped in your house, no longer able to go to the bar with your friends. And going on a date? Perish the thought. You could find a babysitter, but finding one you trust, that is reliable, and reasonably priced can feel like hitting the lottery. Not to mention that you might just not want to leave your baby! Your strong desire to be close to them at all times is only natural.
That leaves you with two options: Staying at home like you always do, or taking your baby on your date with you. It’s surprisingly easy, so long as you plan it out, bring more burp cloths than you think will be necessary, and know what you are doing.
Ground Rules for the Date
First, you need to set ground rules. Try not to talk shop about the baby while on the date. You already talk about your baby and his or her needs when you are at home: Talk about you two as a couple. Talk about the shows you want to watch, and plan when you are going to watch them. Ask each other fun questions or make up stories about the people around you. Obviously don’t ignore your baby, but spend some time focusing on your relationship as a couple.
Next, do not forget the diaper bag. It will likely be your lifeline if things suddenly take a turn for the worse. Make sure you have toys, snacks, and anything else you need to occupy or calm your baby. Don’t forget a baby carrier or stroller if your baby is too old to stay in the car seat. Have spare burp cloths already in the diaper bag, as you never know what kind of mess you will have to deal with. If your baby is still getting the majority of their nutrition from breast milk or formula, bring more than you think is necessary. Powdered formula can help here, as can a mini cooler/carrier for breast milk. Make sure the bottles are ready to go before they are needed.
Finally, if there is a meltdown that you just can’t seem to soothe, go home. Yes, it will ruin the date, but you can always go out again later. It may sound like a big deal, but it’s best to know when to throw in the towel.
Eating Out with Baby
Especially your first time around, don’t bother trying to go out to fine dining. Choose something family friendly. Grab a baby bib and get ready for a mess. You’ll need to get a high chair, and if your baby isn’t eating solid food yet, bring a bottle. Otherwise, strap your baby into the high chair and snap on a bib. Consider a placemat that sticks to the table: the waitstaff will thank you. Hopefully, you have checked the menu beforehand and know what your baby will like to eat. If needed, take them for a walk outside or around the restaurant if they get fussy. When you are done, clean up their mess: again, the waitstaff will thank you. Bring plenty of burp cloths as your baby will either need to be burped, or make a mess.
A Walk in the Park
Grab the stroller or carrier and go for a walk or hike. You can wander the neighborhood, go to a local park, or walk down trails. You’ll get exercise, get out of the house, and you might even get your baby to sleep in the stroller. You can also bring a picnic basket and a few toys and have a meal. You can bring a receiving blanket for your baby to play on if you need more room. Another idea if you have an older baby is to walk around, find a park with a play structure, and let your baby have fun. If they are mobile and steady enough, this can give you both a few minutes to catch your breath. As a couple with a young child, that might just be enough of a date for you two.
Baby at the Movies
Check your local movie theater, as they may have showings specifically for parents of young children. For example, both Regal and AMC offer sensory-friendly film showings, with the second and fourth Saturday of the month reserved for family-friendly showings. The lights are turned up, the sound is turned down, and both chains welcome dancing, singing, walking around, or shouting. Just don’t take your baby during their normal nap time. If you have an older baby or toddler, they might enjoy popcorn, but be wary of kernels. If you take your baby to a normal movie showing, such as the latest kid’s movie, they may enjoy the movie but could be scared of the big, dark room. Remember, if you have to walk away or go home to avoid a meltdown, don’t be afraid to cut your losses.
Toes in the Sand
Take a trip to the beach and enjoy the sand beneath your toes. Bring shade for your baby, whether it’s a tent or a large beach umbrella. Your baby might enjoy getting their feet wet at the edge of the waves and will definitely love throwing sand around. There are mesh baby carriers made for taking your little one into the water and are perfect for using at the beach. Bring a small speaker, and you can listen to music while enjoying the crashing of the waves, too. Don’t forget a baby swimsuit!
Strap your baby into a carrier and get ready to putt-putt. No carrier, no problem—just take turns holding the baby while the other swings the club. Since these dates are supposed to be fun and romantic, make a few wagers on the game. Someone might have to do dishes or clean the house more in the next month, but that’s what makes the game fun! Let the competitive spirit in, and don’t be afraid to cheat with a bit of adorable interference from the baby.
Go to the Zoo
Try and find a local zoo and enjoy seeing all the animals. Depending on your child’s age, they might also enjoy the animals, too, but remember this is about enjoying time out with your partner. Have fun with it and try to do animal impressions with your partner. Laughter will help you have a fun time at the zoo even if you’re both a bit tired.
Go for a Sunday Drive
Sunday drives aren’t just a thing from the 1950s. The motion of the car has a good chance of putting your baby to sleep, allowing you and your partner to enjoy driving around town or along scenic routes. You can put on soft music, or just enjoy the conversation. No matter where you go, you can find something pretty to see and enjoy.
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