Our Frugal Date Nights {plus a short rant}

Our Frugal Date Nights | RaisingArrows.net

All the marriage books and seminars will tell you how important it is to have a Date Night with your spouse, but I have to admit I’m a little skeptical of “great marriage advice” that only seems to be relevant to the last 30 years.  Ma & Pa Ingalls weren’t scheduling a weekly Date Night.  They were too busy and too poor.  So, before I go any further with this post, I want to say loud and clear that having or not having a Date Night with your spouse is not going to make or break your marriage.  Quit thinking that Date Nights are going to fix everything.  It’s going to take a whole lot more work than that.

Now that we have that clarified, let’s move on, shall we?

Ty and I do go on Date Nights here and there.  Most of the time it involves eating out and a trip to the store.  But sometimes we just need some couple time that doesn’t involve leaving the house or money.  It’s those “Date Nights” I’m going to share with you here.
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1.  Amazon Prime Streaming Movies – Nearly a year ago, we took the plunge and got Amazon Prime.  After Creed was born, we began to use the streaming videos feature (we had actually purchased it to save on shipping costs).  It was only $79 for the entire year and we got a free month.  So, on nights like tonight, Ty and I may snuggle up on the couch and watch a little Duck Dynasty Season 1 for a few giggles.  I actually have some very fond memories of those newborn days, watching Amazon Prime with baby and Daddy late at night as we got accustomed to our new little bundle.

2. Driveway Dates – Oh, how I love these! Ty will call me up when he’s on his way home from work and say, “Meet me in the driveway.”  Now most of the time when Daddy shows up after work, I yell, “Daddy’s home!” and they all come runnin’, but not on these nights.  These nights are just for him and I.  I slip on my shoes and sneak out the door, leaving the baby in the care of an older child (or bringing him along if need be).  Most of the time I’ll jump in the passenger seat of the car and we’ll sit there and listen to music, talk over the day, and talk about things to come.  It’s a time we can have all to ourselves.  Eventually, the little boys look out the window and see Mommy and Daddy just sitting out there and figure we must be lonely without them, but until that moment, it’s a Date Night…in the driveway!

3.  Coffee or Tea on the Front Porch – Another favorite!  This is usually a morning thing and it usually starts with a, “Hey, you wanna have coffee on the front porch before you go to work?”  We have to stress to the little guys the fact that Mommy and Daddy are having some alone time (we usually tell them it is a “meeting” because that sounds super boring and something they would not want to be a part of).  They are slowly learning that they need to refrain from opening the door nine million times to ask us when we are coming in.

If it’s coffee we are having, it is often Starbucks Coffee Blonde Roast, Willow Blend and I have some sort of creamer in mine.  If it is tea, it is a Sweet Cinnamon Orange.  It may not be night time, but it sure is special!

4.  Cook Something – Sometimes a Date Night is one spent in the kitchen together.  I don’t often get Ty’s help in the kitchen, so when I do it is a real treat!  Nothin’ says lovin’ like Ty cookin’!  It could be a recipe of my choosing or something like Elvis Biscuits (one of Ty’s favorites), but no matter what, we have a blast!

5.  A Walk Around the Outside of the House – This has become my new form of exercise.  Taking Ty along makes it twice as fun!

6.  Put the Kids to Bed Early – Don’t laugh, but sometimes Date Night simply means Without Kids Night.  Putting the kids down for some Rest Time and just relaxing in our own company is quite wonderful.  We need a strong marriage so we can be strong parents.  Putting the kids to bed early is a good way to take this time to reconnect.

These are some of our favorites, but I want to hear from you!  What are your favorite frugal Date Nights that are easy to pull off?

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62 thoughts on “Our Frugal Date Nights {plus a short rant}

  1. We do a lot of the same things. We love walking around our yard, holding hands and just talking in peace. ;) It really is more about stealing away a few minutes here and there, than having formal date nights. Those are great, but they’re few and far between.

  2. My hubby and I have recently started walking around the block a couple of times after dinner while the kiddos clean up the kitchen as part of their normal chores. We use this time to catch up on how our day went, without interruption. It also allows us some time to breathe and enjoy God’s creation.

    • My parents did this almost every night once my five siblings and I were old enough to look after ourselves. I’m planning to do the same.

  3. Last year for my husband’s birthday I gave him a year worth of pre-planned, prepaid dates. Sometimes we went out, sometimes we stayed in. Some of the dates were-
    $10 starbuck card for coffee and an hour alone (grandma was enlisted to watch kids)
    Mexican theme night- I rented Three Amigos from the library for us to watch, we made some of our favorite Mexican food and we taught ourselves how to make fried icecream
    We also had Italian night, Hawaiian night (made use of our sound machine for ocean sound in backround) and youtube night were we had help from friends finding funny and clean videos to watch and spend a night laughing. All of the at home dates the kids were fed earlier and put to bed earlier than usual with something fun like a book on cd from the library that they would all listen to so we could be alone

  4. Sometimes I prepare a meal for the children and they eat before daddy gets home. We may rent a special movie for the kids and ‘send’ them downstairs to watch it. Then daddy grills steak for us and maybe a fancier vegetable than we normally have- ie asparagus and mushrooms, then we eat alone at one end of the table.
    Sometimes we go to Menards to get an item needed for home maintenance— there just happens to be an Orange Leaf (frozen yogurt) on the way!! ;)
    Walks around the neighborhood…Saturday morning bike rides, sometimes we even go for a drive and take our little schnauzer along…

    But one of our special but frugal dates…my husband travels some for work…and he earns points for hotels. He has reserved a hotel in town and paid for it with points. We’ve placed a friend ‘on call’ for our children, but teen in charge, and we’ve snuck away in town for an over nighter. We sometimes will have a small meal out, but not always. We bring a laptop to the hotel and rent a movie or netflix/amazon prime. Sometimes there’s a hot tub to relax in, we’ve even been given free upgrades to jacuzzi suites! :) We sleep in a little in the morning and then enjoy the hotel’s free breakfast before heading home! Love those times!

  5. We have a new tradition. The kids and I spend all day Friday cleaning up and getting ready for the weekend. Daddy stops at Little Caesar’s and a Redbox machine on his way home from work. That way dinner doesn’t mess up all we did all day! While the kids enjoy pizza (in the living room no less which is a huge treat( and a movie, hubby and I escape to the playroom with the baby and our food and enjoy over an HOUR of adult conversation! W

  6. I love your rant! You are so so right. :) We used to get dressed and drive thirty minutes to town and eat out. The cost for gas and food averaged around $45. Ouch. Now we always did errands and such but it was a chunk. We live on the edge of a very small village and there is a restaurant that does a double fish fry which is double the fish but not the french fries for $10. We grab a bottle of coke and put the kids to bed early and are good to go. It is cheaper and so nice not to traipse to town. And we have a netflix subscription so that gets used a lot too. :)

  7. Thank you so much for beginning that saying Date Nights are not a must. We’ve only once in 13 years of marriage done something that could be called a date night, which was taking someone up on a babysitting for anniversary article so that we could do Goodwill shopping just us grown-ups, and we did go to Olive Garden beforeheand. That’s it. And we are very happily married. We’re just content with time at home with our children and quiet times talking (and other things :-)) while they are in bed or busy elsewhere. And I’m also suspicious of it on the grounds that Date Nights were not even an option for most of history.

    • I think it does more harm than good to suggest you have to have Date Nights to have a great marriage. You go from appreciating them to expecting them and then to resenting your kids, finances and spouse if you don’t get them. :(

      • Agreed. I’ve known some couples that had real struggles when things didn’t work out for them to get the expected date nights or when their extended family weren’t willing to babysit for free, etc.

        Of course, there is certainly nothing wrong with them if whatever you do is within your finances, children are well provided for, and there’s a right attitude about it. Just not a necessity. :-)

  8. We love at-home date nights. Even before we had kids, we rarely went out on dates. We’re both more homebodies. So when Hubby gets a free Redbox rental coupon, he calls, asks what I want to see and we have a date after the kids go to bed.

    I, too, get tired of the necessary date night marriage advice. More important than doing stuff together, is connecting, communicating. And not blowing our finances. Hubby and I do well communicating and we take time to spend together at home, just the two of us. When our favorite shows come on, that time is sacred. All kids are in bed so we can have a date.

  9. I appreciate you saying that date nights are not going to fix everything…I know so many couples that think this way, which makes me really sad. It’s not about a fancy date night that brings you together, it’s the quiet moments when you just enjoy being together. Thanks for all your great ideas…I love the driveway date!! Just a few minutes to discuss the day before the kids demand his attention…genius! :)

  10. Amy you are so wise! I love the driveway idea. A really great memory we have is watching the Winter Olympics snuggling on our loveseat. We also made grocery shopping dates. Dating has always been vitally important to us. We have been married 31 1/2 years and still crazy in love. It only gets better!

  11. One of my husband and my favorite things to do for alone time is to take a drive right before bed time. We normally stop and get a tea, or bring a drink from the house, and just ride. Soon, our daughter will be asleep and then it’s just us. We’ll be silly, or maybe there’s an issue we’ve had to wait for the right time to talk about. A lot of times we dream. We love making big plans! It’s more fun when the dreams become reality and then you get to fill in the details to the plans. The drive can last as long as 30 minutes, or 2 hours, depending on our gas and energy level. Sometimes, just holding hands and listening to music is the romance we need for that evening.

    • We call that “windshield time” and usually only do that on the way to or from somewhere specific, but I like the idea of just going for the fun of it!

  12. We do a lot of these things as well. AS a mom of 6 boys going to Walmart by ourselves or even the grocery store is a great date. Just the simple things that matter. After knowing someone for 20 years we are not very creative people at all. We DVR a lot of programs and watched after the boys are in bed. if hubby has not fallen asleep by then. Great post and thanks for sharing.

  13. Loved this post! I’ll have to admit, I had started to feel condemed because my husband and I rarely (maybe once or twice a year) have a “Date Night”. But everyday we have sometime that we sit together and just talk. On his mornings off, we always sit and have a mug of coffee together. It is the little things that help keep the home fires burning. Thank you for the reminder!

  14. Amen. Special time is wonderfully nice but when your oldest of three children is three years old, the constant advice to ‘go on a date nite’ is less than worthless. We live in the middle of no where, so its not just a matter of the next door baby sitter either. Thank you Amy for the reminder to this ‘date nite’ culture that this is actually a new thing, not by any stretch of the imagination a biblical command. The closest thing we get to regular dates are dismissing the children from dinner and eating second helpings in peace…for a grand total of three minutes. I will have to keep driveway dates in mind for when the littles are a little less little.

    • I actually think it does harm to suggest you HAVE to have a Date Night to couples like yourselves. I can only imagine the strife it would cause in your household if you were constantly feeling resentful for NOT having that.

      • One thing we did when ours were that little, which was a version of the driveway date, was to either watch a movie on my husband’s laptop or on the DVD player in the car in the driveway of our house with the baby monitor on. We knew exactly what was going on, and had the feel of a drive in movie with popcorn and drinks, but without the expense! We still do that on occasion.

  15. Sometimes I’ll pick up cheese and crackers at the store, or I’ll bake a little something and we’ll crawl in bed with our laptop and watch a show or movie on Prime or Netflix.
    I’ll make iced tea for balmy summer nights or café con leche on cool nights and we’ll sit outside on the picnic table together.
    We’ve gotten a babysitter (Grandma is free ;) ), I’ll make dinner pack dinner for is and leave the rest on the stove for the sitter to serve. We go to the park and have a picnic.
    A Starbucks trip and grocery shopping, child free, often counts as a date.

  16. I love the different ideas for date night!!! My husband and I do some of them too!!! some times on date night we play bowling or golf on the wii!! its so much fun!! and whille we do that our children are in our oldests room watching a movie and then falling asleep!!!

  17. I had to laugh at the freaky similarity of our lives. Freakiest of all is the fact that as I was reading your first sentence, I was thinking, “The Ingalls never….”

  18. This was actually perfectly timed and seriously needed–and I didn’t even realize how much. These ideas seems so simple, but they are so good. Thanks!

  19. I love this! We are blessed to have TWO grandma’s nearby–who we love and trust! Our favorite date night is taking the kids to grandma’s and coming home to nachos and ice cream and Netflix. And if we get some “snuggle time” in too–bonus!

    We had this epiphany this year. Instead of going to a fancy hotel and spending lots of money on our anniversary, I took the girls to Grandma and went home to make the bedroom someplace special. Twinkly lights, moving out the baby furniture (haha!), some drapey tulle hanging from the ceiling, a creative game from Dating Divas. :) I was even able to splurge on a few special cheeses and sparkling cider and out-of-season strawberries because we weren’t spending an arm-and-a-leg on dinner out and a fancy hotel. It was my favorite anniversary ever!

      • I think the spirit of what you are saying and that this taught in marriage seminars and books is one in the same – FIND TIME ALONE WITH YOUR SPOUSE!!!! That is what is important. Whether you schedule a weekly babysitter or put the kids to bed early once a week, you are doing so to spend time with your spouse and you will reap the same rewards. We often have an indoor date night and play games, watch movies, order in, read a book together (but separate) in silence as well as our get aways to the mountains, out to dinner, to the movies, to the park etc….It doesn’t matter what you do-It just matters that you do it!

  20. My husband and I have been married for 27 years. While our kids were little we didn’t get very many date nights. I do think that spending time alone is very important. We homeschooled four kids so just going to the store with my husband and no kids felt like a date to me. My husband now accuses me of calling anything we do by ourselves a date. :-) I appreciate the way that you have encouraged couples to look for those times together to spend alone, even if it’s just drinking coffee on the porch together. (I love doing that!) Our kids will grow up and leave one day so we want to nurture our marriage and continue to grow together, never apart. I loved reading all the date ideas!

  21. This iis a great list. I needed it. My husband likes to go to the city whenever we can. He’s a shopper. So that is most of our dates. I like all the other ideas. Themed nights really appeals to me. I love that. Thank you ladies. :)

  22. I SO hear you! Date nights not only have to be frugal around here, but they have to be… at home. :) The kids are too young to leave with sitters at present. Here’s some things we have done, and a few others we have yet to do! http://homemakingwithheart.com/2013/06/22/date-nights-at-home/
    Today is our anniversary, and ‘date night’ is going to involve an English period drama (free on YouTube – we like the BBC series such as those adapted from Jane Austen and Charles Dickens classics), and probably something chocolate that I’ve yet to bake.
    Great ideas Amy. :) bless you

  23. I have two to add that we enjoy. One is a game night. Before having children, we loved to play board and card games. So, we will pull out a game after the kids go to bed and let the competition begin! The other is a summertime date only for us. (We live in the northeast.) I run out when the kids go to bed and get ice cream from the local shop and bring it back and we sit outside watching the stars come out.

  24. Thank you sooo much for saying something I’ve thought a hundred times when I’ve heard marriage “experts” talk about date nights being ESSENTIAL to a healthy marriage! We love to slip away when we can, but it’s been rare for us to have both the extra cash and a baby sitter for regular nights out.

    On free Saturdays, which don’t seem to come often enough, we usually go somewhere together, though almost always with the kids in tow. Sometimes we go to yard sales or maybe just be the local Lowe’s store or Walmart or Best Buy. But I promise I love those Saturdays! We enjoy so much just walking and talking and looking at things together, even with the kids along!

  25. Our favorite “date night” is a road trip. The kids are so busy playing & watching movies in the back of our minivan that we finally get a chance to catch up and talk with NO interruptions. It’s quite lovely.

  26. Thank you so much for sharing this. I LOVE my date nights with my hubby, but he works late many nights. Every night I have dinner waiting for him, on his spot, with his magazine. So when he comes home it is waiting. I believe love is something that can be shown in so many ways. Even when you are busy and poor. Thank you for this reminder.

  27. I totally agree with you about Date Nights not being Essential, and not being a part of pioneer marriages! And yet, we live in such a busy, fast-paced world and it is good to squeeze out some alone time. i absolutely love your creative Driveway Dates! :) Where there’s a Will there’s a way! :)

    Our ability to take date nights has changed through the years. When the children were young and we had to hire a babysitter, they were few and far between. But that’s OK. When the kids got older and we had built in babysitters, we tried to go out to dinner every couple weeks or so. We discovered that when we couldn’t afford the time/money away for dinner, that we could atleast sneak out for coffee! We had a Starbucks less than ten minutes away for the last several years, making it a good place to sneak awaay for a little catching up.

    Recently, we have enjoyed taking walks on the beach on occasion! (But not everyone lives 20 minutes from the beach, do they??) ;)

    Another recent favorite is the Costco date! We have to drive an hour to the closest Sams/Costco, where we go once a month to stock up on all the large family essentials! While we are out, we not only shop, but also get to catch up and we usually go out to lunch or dinner while were are gone. It is practical and fun too!

    BTW, I also love Starbucks Blonde blend! :)

    As always, thanks for sharing ideas and encouraging us to think outside the box.

    Elizabeth

  28. Personal habits and traditions are some of the best memories! A real and every dayrelationship is what builds a marriage. Going out with someone you never spend time with at home, isn’t very fun. The advice to have a date night probably comes from people in a city or in a place that HAS things to do. The idea that a married couple has to go to town every week to the one restraunt there for a date or they will not have a strong marriage SOUNDS crazy because it doesn’t sound very fun or healthy. BUT the idea of a couple who are in a city and never go out, never take part of the life and place God has put them. Never experience the city around them just because you can’t do it with kids or it’s too expensive for everybody to go, sounds crazy too. The general statement “you need a date night” is just too general. Some people LIKE being home, some people need to get out of the house, some people live out where there is not place to go. You need to take your situation, consider your needs and desire as a couple and make couple time. I enjoy experiencing my city with my children but there is a whole lot to do that would be hard with little kids. My husband and I like to discover different places to eat and pretend we are foodie experts but we live in a place we will not run out of option to try new places. We also like to learn things together and DREAM together. Your dates should reflect who you are as a couple. I feel like people don’t quite understand where the “date night” suggestion comes from, which is real one on one time. By now it’s a regurgitated piece of info that has lost a lot of where it came from. Also remember there are people SO busy that DO NEED a date night, this business came with the modern era, so a date night came with it.

  29. I love the idea of sneaking out to chat in the driveway before the kids notice us. I may have to wait til the kids are a bit older, but I will remember this idea.

  30. Before we were married, my husband’s and my hangout place after Wednesday night youth group was the Dairy Queen in our small town. Now with our two year old daughter in tow, it’s still our favorite place for a “date night” :)

  31. We have couch dates. We’ll tell the kids that mommy and daddy need 15 mins and we’ll lay on the couch with our heads close and just talk. The kids can last about 15 mins before they interrupt, but it’s wonderful to connect with each other and to have the kids see a “date”. We also will put the kids down early sometimes and eat dinner together on the couch while watching our favorite tv show or just sit and talk. When we have extra money or my parents are free we like to go to the local sports bar, order and appetizer and watch a game of whatever (this one is new since we recently gave up cable, but I think it will become a favorite)! :-)

  32. date night is so important for us. It is our priority. I heard someone say you cant afford not to. So we go out the first weekend of the month, after payday! We have to budget it in! There are so many couples I hear of that never go out! I love the alone time. I have 5 kids! It is always loud at our house. Here is one idea for date night in! It saves money on tip and babysitter. Order take out from a restaurant and have hubby pick it up while you feed kids easy kid food and send them downstairs for a movie, or to bed early while you have a late night dinner just the two of you. You can go the extra mile even and put out a tablecloth and candles! That’s what I am talking!!

  33. Eeek, thank you for saying date nights won’t make or break a marriage! I have always felt so much pressure to have dates nights but … you know the story, hubby is working weird hours as an undertaker, is always on call and is available to his funeral home 24/7, plus we have lots of little ones, etc. So thank you. I need to breathe and realize that we don’t need to have Friday night date nights like our friends and that we can just take whatever moments we can have – together! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  34. Now that my oldest is old enough to babysit my younger son, my husband and I use grocery shopping as a date. It’s a 15 mile trip to the nearest big town. So we spend that time listening to the radio and chatting. Then we may stop and grab a bite to eat as well while we are out.

  35. Found this on your 2013 wrap up post…love it. We don’t get away much together, alone, either–and when we do we usually try to cram so much into an hour or two it’s not really fun. Instead, I try to focus on getting the kids evening chores done and give them an evening snack before Daddy walks in the door, then send them up to play. I’m sure it’s nice to be greeted enthusiastically, but after a long, hard day, my husband has come to prefer walking into a peaceful house and have a few minutes to unwind and talk to me in the kitchen while I’m starting dinner before the kiddos come charging at him. It’s not quite daily, but we try to make this our routine 3 days or more a week. And it’s not a “date night” but is our regular reconnect time and I think that’s the important part, and it works for us. I love the idea of driveway dates too–I might have to try that one.

  36. Great ideas! We pretty much do all of those…and I didn’t really even think of them as ‘dates’..just normal quality time together, kwim? :) We’ve been married 18 yrs this January. Sometime Gabe and I will go for walks *alone*..it’s nice having children old enough to watch the littles for a while! Sometimes it’s grocery shopping together. Last week it was all day dr. appointments (for each of us, sans kids). But it was actually nice..we even went out to eat.
    In the summer, we’ll stay up late and build a campfire in the backyard and sit alone together after the kids go to bed (and our olders stay up and watch a video). On a rare occasion we’ll share some wine while sitting out there (when I’m not pregnant or nursing, that is!) That’s one of my favorites <3

  37. These are great ideas! We are lucky to have a balcony off our bedroom, so we can have tea there after the kids are asleep (and the neighbors have a water feature- it sounds so nice at night!)- another idea- when we take a family walk, we walk together and the kids walk/run/wander as they will- as much as I love them, my husband is my priority (that sounds bad- but I bet you understand)