Top 10 Cheap Date Night Ideas for Parents of Small Kids

Top Ten TuesdayToday’s Top 10 Tuesday Guest post is from Leigh Ann from Intentional by Grace, sharing about cheap date night ideas for parents of small kids!

Raise your hand if you have a regular date night with your spouse. If you’re like me, you want to raise your hand, but you’ve found yourself in a dating rut since children started coming onto the scene.

Last year, I surveyed several married women with a combined 200 years of marriage under their belts. Do you want to know their number one piece of advice?

Keep date nights a priority in your marriage … no matter what.

I’m a mom of two little boys (ages 3 and 3 months). Connecting with my husband through regular date nights takes work during this exhausting season of spit up, potty training, and toddler tantrums.

There are two (main) date night challenges parents of small children face.

Challenge #1: Exhaustion

Let’s face it bearing children is exhausting. First you try to keep your marriage fresh while pregnant, which seems almost impossible. Then you move into the stage of nursing and caring for a small child, which means your hormones are all over the place. You’re more often than not covered in bananas, flour, and boogers all at the same time, and it’s a vacation to go to the grocery store alone. Small children and all that goes into caring for them is exhausting, but worth it – totally worth it! Yet when you’re exhausted, date nights are too often the last thing on your mind.

Challenge #2: Finding a Babysitter

I would rather go to the dentist and get a root canal than go through the process of finding a babysitter. Dramatic and ridiculous, I know. Yet it’s the truth! Nailing down a babysitter can sometimes be challenging. Then, once you have a babysitter lined up, you have to get everything prepared for the babysitter to take over while you’re gone!

These two challenges can completely deter me from making date nights a priority. Sometimes it feels like date nights are more work than they’re worth, but I have a secret.

Making date nights a priority is worth it!

  • You get a break from caring for your children for just a little while, which in the end actually makes you a better parent.
  • You get to connect with your man and recharge with your best friend.

Since parents of small children face enough challenges to make date night happen, I want to share 10 date night ideas in hopes of making it a little easier on you.

10 Cheap and Easy Date Night Ideas

5 At Home Date Night Ideas

Date nights at home can sometimes be the best option for parents of small children. The key to at home date nights is turning off the phones, computers, and other distracting electronics and tuning into your spouse. My husband and I try to do this at least once a week.

Create a dining destination. Feed the babies homemade mac and cheese and put them to bed early. Then, turn your dining room into a dining destination. This is always so much fun! Light some candles, hide the matchbox cars, and do something out of the ordinary! You can go fancy, or just simply make homemade pizza together.

Read a book together. My husband and I love to read book series together. After a long day of caring for babies, reading a book curled up on the couch under the same blanket is a nice respite. We can escape into a new world or learn something new together. We’ve read books ranging from The Chronicles of Narnia to how to grow our marriage (like 31 Days to Great Sex!). For additional appeal, share a fun dessert together like chocolate covered strawberries!

Play a board game. Board games are an easy way to connect with your man. Who doesn’t enjoy a little competition? If you need some ideas for two player games, I love Sheila’s list of two player board games. Prepare a special snack or drink to share to add to the fun.

Enjoy a themed movie night. This one takes a little more foresight, but a themed movie night can be a lot of fun. You just need to pick a movie, plan a themed dinner, and a fun activity to go along with the movie you will watch. Very simple, yet takes the regular ol’ movie night to a whole new level.

Exercise together. I do not like to work out by myself. Working out with your man can be so much fun! Pop in a video or create your own workout routine to do together. This is a great way to de-stress and work together on your health goals. Afterward share a smoothie or some other protein rich snack together, or not and just eat an Oreo (or two or three) dipped in milk. Yum!

5 Date Night Out Ideas

If it’s possible, enjoying a date night out of the house is important for parents of small children. My husband and I try to get a date night out of the house without children at least once a month. This is a little more doable for us, and it’s something to really look forward to.

Visit a bookstore or library. This is a fun, free date night out activity. Love Actually has a fun Bookstore Date Night printable we’ve used a few times. The idea is to go in search of books on a set topic, and then talk about them together. If you’re book lovers, this one is a must do!

Go to a dollar or thrift store. We always have lots of laughs together after this date. Give each other $5 (or some other set amount) and go shopping for one another. It’s probably a good idea to set expectations first! Is this going to be silly, thoughtful, etc.? It’s never good when one spouse works really hard to find THE perfect gift and the other takes the silly route and comes up with a spatula for mom. Trust me. Set expectations!

Enjoy coffee and dessert. Date night doesn’t have to be a whole night out. Sometimes we’ll put the babies to bed, and then head out for the night – leaving a babysitter on duty of course. This is less stressful for me as the mom, and it gives me a little more time to get dressed. Plus it’s cheaper than a whole dinner!

Take a walk with a camera in hand. My husband and I love photography. One of our favorite activities is to head downtown with our camera. Your camera phone works great for this too! Take pictures of your time together. If you’re out for dessert, photograph the perfectly drizzled chocolate, or the steam coming from your cup of coffee. Take pictures of one another and the scenery around you. The ideas are truly endless! Be silly, have fun, and enjoy one another! For an added bonus, save the photos into a separate folder on your computer; then at the end of year, create a photo book of your date nights together!

Take a class together. This idea depends on where you live, as well as your interests. Some ideas include a dance class, painting lessons, photography workshop, cooking class, etc. We have plans to take a painting class together. Neither of us is particularly talented when it comes to art (you should see my stick man drawings…), but doing something outside our comfort zones is great for connecting. Create memories together even if it means your painting looks more like a moose than the puppy you set out to paint. Taking a class together gives you an opportunity to loosen up!

Date nights (whether they are at home or out on the town) are an important part of marriage. I know it’s an exhausting, trying, totally worth it season of parenting. I also know that means it’s an exhausting, trying, totally worth it season of marriage. Being a parent of small children has its challenges, but from a parent who is in the trenches with you, it’s worth it to keep date nights a priority. Your marriage is worth it, and your kids are depending on you.

Leigh Ann @ Intentional By Grace


Leigh Ann is passionate about inspiring others to live life intentionally by grace for the glory of God. In all she does, she seeks to make it impossible to not think about God. She is the wife to the man of her prayers, Mark, and mama to two loveable little boys, Samuel and Timothy. Follow along with her at


  1. yes, yes, and yes.
    In the seasons when we are making date night a priority, everything goes better. In the 13 years since we became parents we have had times when date night just never seemed to happen, and times (like now) where it’s at least once a week and sometimes twice. (Date night at home is cheap and easy-ish!)
    Our favourite at the moment is to put the kids to bed, then break out the “fancy” ice cream and just sit in the living room talking or watching reruns of old tv shows.
    One idea I would add – some kids, especially when they are little, find it very hard to be put to bed by a sitter. We had one like that – he’d keep himself awake until we got home, no matter how late it was. Our solution? Lunch dates. The meal out is cheaper that time of day, and the little guy wasn’t upset by us going out. The added bonus was that we were both more awake, too, and had better conversation!

    • I love the idea of lunch dates! That is such a great tip. We recently took a morning to go skiing together (we live in a ski town), and left both boys with a sitter for the morning. It was so nice! Plus, it was the BEGINNING of my day. I hadn’t yet exhausted myself chasing a toddler or bouncing a baby on my hip all day. Lunch dates are another great thought, and a great pause in the middle of the day. I love it! Thanks for sharing!
      Leigh Ann @ Intentional By Grace recently posted…10 Date Night Ideas for Parents of Small ChildrenMy Profile

  2. Great tips Leigh Ann! We don’t have a regular date night, but we are actually reading Sheila’s 31 Days to Great Sex….only it’s taking much longer than 31 Days as we have a non-sleeper in the house! :) We recently cut off our satellite service, and that has greatly increased our time together just by removing that distraction and “list” of shows waiting on the DVR!
    Mary Beth recently posted…The Ultimate Healthy Living eBook BundleMy Profile

  3. My hubby and I have never been real good about planning “dates.” Maybe it’s because, in his words, “every day is a date,” since we don’t have kids yet. haha But still, we’re not real good about intentionally doing new things together, like the things listed in this post. I LOVE the ideas of enjoying a themed movie night and reading a book together or taking an art class! One thing we do try to do frequently is play board games with our extended family and sometimes we just play Scrabble against each other. I can vouch that it is always fun!
    Jane @ Devoted Sonriser recently posted…Does Your Marriage Need Some Maintenance?My Profile

    • For us, we’ve learned that being intentional (even before kids) to make each other a priority (and really?) not take it for granted has been so helpful. I know it’s hard to not think that every day is a date day, but it’s worth it to try to set aside time each week to “date.” Maybe you can start with once a month and plan something fun. It certainly doesn’t have to be every week. We do every week because with children, it is hard to have an uninterrupted conversation, and then the evenings are a whirlwind of bath time and 101 reasons why “you must stay in your bed” lectures. So weekly date nights give us the “promise” that we WILL get to talk without distractions, even if it’s just 15 minutes before bed. :) Build the habit now! You won’t regret it!
      Leigh Ann @ Intentional By Grace recently posted…10 Date Night Ideas for Parents of Small ChildrenMy Profile

  4. I love these ideas! We just moved away from all of our family, which means we are out of babysitters. We haven’t been on a date since we moved, really. At home date nights are just what we need! Thank you!
    Kayse recently posted…Here’s To the Hard DaysMy Profile

  5. Love this! Hubby and I love having even a short coffee date while my older daughter watches the younger two. It’s not for very long, but it’s a nice time to connect. The thrift store idea sounds fun!
    Shannen recently posted…Fostering an Islamic Identity in Our KidsMy Profile

  6. I love these ideas, LeighAnn!!
    Erin@The Humbled Homemaker recently posted…Educating Your Preschooler at Home with EmbarK¹² Comprehensive {+ a giveaway!}My Profile

  7. We probably only go out on dates once a month or so, so I love the idea of at home date nights. I also love all the date ideas you shared…we are pretty boring and usually just do dinner and a movie, but taking a walk with a camera sounds like so much fun!
    Krissa recently posted…10 Quick and Easy DIY Valentine’s GiftsMy Profile

  8. So good! Thank you for including at-home date ideas. My husband and I are homebodies. We used to go out on a “real date” MAYBE twice a year – and that was before we had 4 kids! We haven’t been on a date in over a year, but our marriage is still happy and strong. We have at-home dates all the time!
    Megan at SortaCrunchy recently posted…Sunday Brunch (on a Tuesday!): a feast of links for Feb 11My Profile

  9. Love this! Even though some of our kids have become our built-in babysitter, it still isn’t easy to make our time alone together a priority. We just get busy, and it’s easier to do nothing. I love this reminder to be intentional about dating my husband. Much of the planning for our time together rests on my shoulders, so this is a great way to really bless and encourage my him. I can’t wait until it gets warmer outside because one of our favorite things is just walking around downtown. We love to go in and out of the cool shops and get inspired to make our home a little more lovely. It’s cheap and we get to spend a couple hours talking while we window shop!
    Amy Clark Scheren @ Gospel Homemaking recently posted…Daily To Do List {Weekly Plan} :: February 10-16My Profile

  10. I just started following your blog Leigh Ann and it’s great to see you contributing to one of the first blogs I ever started to follow :)
    I love that these are ideas that we can actually do, thanks for sharing. They aren’t extravagant, which is tough to do with three littles. We’ve been so blessed to have my parents live next door and, more recently, close friends live a few minutes away from us. We just need to make it more of a habit to make use of their generosity. We have been on one date since our littlest was born 3 months ago but, as he learns to accept car rides more, we hope to make and “out” date a one-a-month occurrence (it’s easy to just take the baby). We’ve officially made Thursdays our “date night” and I’m so happy to see my prayers answered. It’s much easier to do a date night when your husband is committed too!
    Tessa W recently posted…(Mostly) Free and Simple Ways to Show Love All Year RoundMy Profile

  11. My hubs and I love the bookstore for date night! It’s so relaxing to just be able to slowly browse and chat without little ones running circles and yelling around you! And I have wanted to take a dance class together for so long – hopefully we’ll get to soon! I just think that would be SO fun!
    Emily @ Live Renewed recently posted…Why You Need to Stop Judging and Put on LoveMy Profile

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