Keeping Date Night Fresh

Date Night
As a parent, I’ve become fascinated with time. Really. Someone please explain to me how one day can be THE. Longest. Day. EVER. Then all of a sudden, weeks and months go by almost unnoticed. It just doesn’t compute. I have deemed this phenomenon responsible for several things in my life: sticky floors, the endless laundry basket, recurring loss of car keys, my inability to stick with a solid exercise regime, and finally – not making time for date night.

Even though Father Time is a trickster, making time for your spouse or partner is essential to both nurturing your relationship and being a great parenting team. If you’re like my husband and me, you may find yourself wondering what to do with all that free time once you have child care arranged. Here are a few date ideas to keep things fresh.

1.  Date during the day. Don’t underestimate the power of spending a full day together. Enjoy breakfast at home, then take in a matinee. Point Cinema on the west side now has a full bar, if you’re up for a midday libation. And you can’t beat the discounted price of a matinee ticket! Daytime options are endless, so be creative.

2.  Break the routine. Date night doesn’t have to mean dinner and a movie. Go rock climbing together at Boulders Gym, or bundle up and go ice skating at one of the many parks in Madison. If you haven’t been before, head out to Tyrol for a snowboarding or skiing lesson. It’s not too far away, and $12 Tuesdays make it affordably adventurous!

3. Write it down. Without question, you’re not getting out as much as you used to. It’s impossible to keep up with new hot spots, and easy to instead keep returning to your “old faithfuls.” Try keeping a running list of places you hear about or haven’t tried before. Every time you catch yourselves saying you would like to visit a museum, see a show or try something new, make a note of it. When a date night presents itself, you can choose from the list or get really crazy and pick one at random.

4. Try a stay-date. These work any night of the week, just after the little ones tucker out for the night. To make it feel less like a regular night at home, you can work around a cheesy theme or even outlaw certain activities (suggestions: no Words with Friends or social media, no TV, etc.). Margaritas, tacos and guacamole can go a long way during the doldrums of winter in Wisconsin. Dust off those old board games and find some new ways to connect.

5. Get dedicated. Our friends took date night dedication to a whole new level last year. Starting in January, they separated a predetermined amount of cash into 12 envelopes. Some envelopes had $50, others had $100, $20 or even $10. Each month, they chose an envelope and had to plan a date with the amount inside. The fun was in the planning; the less cash, the more creative the idea.

You can check out our list of Date Night Ideas in the Madison area!

Above all, remember to pause and enjoy one another’s company. Talk. Laugh. Ask each other creative questions. Hold hands.

Happy dating!


  1. Wonderful ideas! At the beginning of the year we made a list of 20 restaurants we wanted to try or revisit. We cut them into pieces and put them in an envelope. when it is date night we pick one. The rule is – you have to go to the restaurant – no “I don’t feel like Indian food tonight.” It makes us go out of our comfort zone, discover new places and foods, and prevents us from hitting our usual spots.

  2. Love these ideas! There is so much to explore in Madison and we almost always go with old standbys. Love the idea of keeping a list and of keeping money in envelopes.

    Thanks for rekindling the date night inspiration.

  3. Great list!! I love the idea of writing down places to try. My husband is delivery driver in Madison and constantly sees places he wants to try. But by the time date night comes around, we have forgotten most of them. And we need to set aside money so we have no excuses!!


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