DATE THE SH*T OUT OF EACH OTHER.
"Date Night. Always set aside one night a week for date night." We've all heard this gem of advice, haven't we? But it goes right up there with "Sleep when the baby sleeps". As much as Will and I try to go on dates, there never seems to be enough time, or energy, or money, or know-how on what's hip and happening nowadays (as evidenced by my use of the words, "hip and happening").
When our relationship was in the youthful bloom of adolescence, we used to surprise each other with dates all the time. He'd build a little "restaurant" outside of my workplace, I would surprise him for weekends away and over time it sort of became our thing - to do the unexpected. But as we got older, with wedding planning and babies and work responsibilities and home responsibilities and school responsibilities and frankly, having lost the stamina of our early twenties, it became more of a necessity to surprise each other. Before, we plotted and packed and planned for months but recently, I literally had to kidnap Will to go out! Lately, it's... "OK, neither of our two kiddies have a cold, we don't have any freelance work to catch up on, granny is here and if we can bribe her, we can escape and have our tummies full in the next 45 minutes!"
But it shouldn't be that way. I always preach about the importance of parents not seeing themselves as two babysitters but rather two people who fell in love. It's so hard to take my own advice! This month, Will and I have had a bad case of cabin fever. Januworry spilled over into Februworry and we have been financially scr*wed. Three brand-new tyres and school registration took it out of us. Literally. So having the budget available was... there was no budget available. And It's so easy to get stuck in a rut. Don't get me wrong, on those weekends where Will and I just cuddle and watch movies are fantastic, but every now and then it's great to get the hell out!
So last Saturday booked a table for Will and I and at Pepenero's, bought him a new shirt (because honestly the ones he had I thought were a Kanye collection rip off but turned out to be just ripped.), and off we went. It was so lovely to just sit and watch the view, ice-cold beer in hand and have a conversation. We always have a rule - no baby talk, no work talk and now, no cell phones unless it's granny calling (which explains the outdated selfie!). At first, I'll admit, it was strange. What the hell did we talk about before making babies? What else did we laugh at before their adorable shenanigans? But slowly, we became the two twenty-somethings again, smiling at each other from above our large menus. Every time we go out I learn new things about Will. About his latest projects, about his new plans for the future. I think no matter how long you are together as a couple, you're always growing and learning so you're never really done getting to know each other.
That's why dating the sh*t out of each other is so important! And I don't mean grabbing dinner when you're both hungry, I mean actual romance. Getting dressed up, putting on make up, shaving, splashing on a little cologne, gifts for the other person, long chats, activities you both love, games that help you get to know each other better, and an uber driver for those nights where you get sh*tfaced on one bottle of wine because you're "not young anymore". Every time we go out, holding hands is such a novel idea. Most days you're pushing one kid in a pram, another in a trolley that you skip out on one of life's simple pleasures - holding the hand of the person you love. By the end of our date, we felt more relaxed. The rush of getting nappies and baby milk and food for the school picnic was on pause for a while.
When we got home, we made a pact: to date more and keep it exciting. I found this amazing site; www.datenightsa.co.za with ideas from A to Z. You can book on the site, choose your ideal date, check availability, and bippety boppety boop (man, I need some new slang!) you're on your way to a perfect date.
I've also discovered an amazing company called DateFactory that delivers a little date box with a surprise event or activity and practically everything you need inside. How friggin cute is that?! The contents of their boxes are so much more than just a bunch of (awesome) goodies – it’s a way for couples to stay together in this busy world of ours. Everybody wants to feel special, and by letting them plan your date both of you will have time to kick back, relax and enjoy each other’s company! What I love most is that many of the products are dedicated to spoiling each other or bringing you closer. You can order once-off boxes, mini boxes, monthly boxes, or purchase date boxes for a special couple you know (hint hint). The contents are a secret which keeps some of the mystery and excitement in romance alive. Where have they been all our lives?
I love this idea because if you're anything like us, on the day you're so taken aback by an actual free moment that you're flushed and can't think of a single thing to do! Our go-to is always stuffing our faces at a nearby restaurant. But there are so many things our beautiful country has to offer: picnicking in the winelands, getaways in the Drakensberg, adventures with elephants (well looked after I hear!) or a pampering break that, let's face it, is much needed.
I'm so excited because I'm about to order my DateFactory box and also a little nervous because Will is a planner and needs a bit of a heads up. But I have a plan B - a DIY adventure box - a little box filled with fun ideas and outings you can do as a couple (we made a list of things we've always wanted to do!) I stole this image from Pinterest because the one I created was a little unrefined.
Keep it simple, your adventure box doesn't have to be Pinterest-worthy. Grab a pen and paper, write down what you enjoy most, new things you'd like to try and one completely insane idea that pushes your limits a little. On Date Night (or Day), draw one slip/activity. The only rule is that you have to stick to the activity, no matter what it is.
I've scribbled down a few ideas:
- Hot air ballooning
- Cave exploring
- Shark cage diving
- Thrift store shopping (for little keepsakes)
- Elephant encounters
- Helicopter trips
- Train rides (no one need drive!)
- Spa breaks
- Wine making
- Wine tasting
- Motor shows
- Comedy shows
- Art gallery, museum, theatre
- Mini golfing in the dark (yip, that's a thing!) See www.glowingrooms.co.za
- Cooking class - perhaps cuisine you haven't tried
- Sunset champagne cruise
- Sunset bus cruise
- Rooftop cinema
- Or learn something new - surfing, pottery, dancing, shoe making, whatever!
Make it fun and unique. Write a love letter, sneak in your partner's favorite snack, go there a day before and hide a special gift somewhere... do something a little different.
I hope I've offered a few good ideas so you're ready to date the sh*t out of each other.
I have to say that I am in no way affiliated with DateFactory. They haven't asked me to write this or paid me; I simply like sharing awesome ideas.