If you cringe when you hear the words, ‘Date Night,’ don’t worry. So do I. What do you mean, ‘Date Night?’ We’re married. We have several million children between us. And we scream things at each other like, ‘WHY HAVEN’T YOU REPLACED THE TOILET ROLL?’ or, if we’re feeling particularly romantic, ‘I DON’T CARE WHAT THEY HAVE FOR LUNCH. JUST MAKE SOMETHING. I’M TRYING TO HAVE A POO.’ Yes. I think it’s safe to say we’re a little beyond ‘dating.’ Aren’t we?
Once upon a time.
I think Daddy Pig and I last had a date circa 2003.
Actually, scrap that. I’m not sure we ever had a date. More like a series of drunken nights ‘down’ O’Neills, followed by a trip down the aisle. Magical, eh?
(And we all lived happily ever after.)
Since ALL the babies have come along, we’ve been pretty dreadful at making time for one another.
Mainly because a lot of the time we, erm, don’t like one another much. Sorry for the lack of sugar coating, but I’m pretty sure anyone who’s birthed a watermelon and then had to listen to their other half say, ‘God, I’m soooooo knackered,‘ knows EXACTLY where I’m coming from here.
The period of discontent, shall we call it, lasts about two years PER BABY, in my opinion. We have three of them with a two and a half year gap in between each. Which means that Daddy Pig and I have ‘liked’ each other for, er, approximately 18 months in seven years.
Just long enough to think having another baby was a genius idea.
‘Let’s have a Date Night!’
The fallout from baby number three has been particularly challenging.
That third child, whilst so brilliant in so many ways (I’m actually not being sarcastic) is the one that shows up any remaining cracks in your relationship. Forget cracks. He brings the whole blooming ceiling down.
But our ‘baby’ is almost two and there are signs that we are emerging, ever so slowly from the fog, towards the light. (There are also moments where we hurtle towards the light so fast that one of us inevitably fries themselves. It’s never going to be perfect.)
So when it was my birthday last week, I was feeling particularly optimistic. A combination of having my first birthday in seven years where I wasn’t pregnant, breastfeeding or planning another baby and the fact that I wasn’t turning 40. Yet. It felt like such a milestone that I found myself coming over all wistful and romantic.
‘Let’s have a Date Night!‘ I said to Daddy Pig before I could stop the words tumbling out of my mouth.
And so, we did.
6 tips for ‘Date Night.’
When you haven’t been out together for a LONG time, you need to take it SLOW.
Here’s how to have a foolproof first ‘Date Night.’
1 Make a plan. Because if you’re wandering the streets aimlessly without one, one (or both) of you is going to get the hump and it’s all going to implode. Plus you’re probably paying good money in babysitting fees so time is most definitely money. DO NOT GO SOMEWHERE THAT YOU TAKE THE KIDS.
2 Don’t let the pressure get to you. It’s worth noting that there can be quite a lot of pressure on the first ‘Date Night.’ But remember. It doesn’t have to be perfect. You’re out TOGETHER. You don’t have a child hanging off your leg. There will be booze. What more do you want?
3 Think about the stuff you enjoyed together pre-kids. Daddy Pig and I have always enjoyed drinking and eating together. OK, drinking. And it just so happened that the lovely people at MASH had invited us for dinner and welcomed us with their (potent) signature ‘His and Hers’ pre-dinner cocktails. Followed by THE MOST AMAZING steak I’ve ever tasted (they have steaks from Denmark, Japan and Uruguay and, of course, the US), served with side orders of Mac & Cheese, chilli fries and creamy spinach (YES. Mac & Cheese! With steak! It’s absolutely DIVINE and I’m not eating steak any other way from now on). The pre-theatre menu is amazing quality and value at £22 for two courses or £25 for three courses. Date Night doesn’t have to be mega-expensive. There are always offers to be had, so shop around.
4 Don’t worry if you end up talking about the kids. That pressure I mentioned? So what if you end up talking about the kids? They’re your kids. You made them together. And you’re proud of them. Now’s the perfect time (two cocktails in) to romanticise how wonderful parenting is and what a great job you’re both doing. (Before you sober up and go back to poohey nappies and the s***fest that parenthood really is).
5 Follow dinner with cinema or a show. Just in case the conversation dries up, it’s always good to have a back-up. Plus going to the cinema or theatre is probably something you haven’t done in FOREVER. (It also stops you getting too drunk and crying over the pure excitement and raw emotion of being out together. Unless the cinema/theatre serves booze. Then you’re screwed.) Daddy Pig and I are BIG Michael Jackson fans (who isn’t?) and although Daddy Pig is not a fan of musicals, I didn’t have to try very hard to convince him to go and see Thriller Live in the West End (also check out tour dates to see if it’s coming to a theatre near you). If you love MJ, you’ll LOVE this. And probably dance, weep and dance some more. Amazing choreography. THE MOONWALK. And the cutest little boy performing the early Jackson Five songs leading to, erm, more tears. Because you’re a mother. You’re emotional. And you’ve had too many gins.
6 Book your next ‘Date Night’ in. You’re back on the horse, so to speak. And you don’t want to leave it another two years before you manage another night out, do you? So, before you forget how much you needed this or how good it felt, as soon as you get home, put another date on the calendar. So you can sort childcare. And look forward to it. Amidst all the screaming about loo roll, of course.