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 great date night ideas for parents who are busy with littles at home! Save money AND have fun!

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 IntentionalByGrace.com.

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