Date night- From romantic soirees to family dates
Going out after parenthood might be better than you expect, you just have to embrace a tiny change: bringing your little chaperones along.
By Gabriella Munoz
When we booked the hospital where our son was born, one of the special features that the midwives highlighted during the introductory tour was that “on the last night of your stay, you get to go out for a couple of hours for a last date before taking the baby home”. They also mentioned that most couples went to the sushi restaurant that’s three blocks away from the maternity ward.
When we went to our parenting classes, the midwives insisted: “Don’t forget to pack a nice and comfortable dress to go on your last date before taking bub home. The baby will stay in the nursery with us”.
I splurged and bought a nice dress for the occasion, perfect for Sydney’s balmy spring; but I didn’t get to wear it.
My little man was born three weeks before his due date, had a few complications, was only 2.300 kg and couldn’t latch; to make my first days of motherhood even more challenging, he wasn’t that interested on the bottle either.
His father and I were focused on two things alone: 1) making sure bub got breast milk (and I expressed so much that I still cringe when I hear the huffing and puffing of the pumps) and 2) walking – it took me a while to recoup from the C-section and my legs were so swollen I just couldn’t get out of bed. So I didn’t get to wear my dress and we didn’t take advantage of our last night out. In fact, the midwives didn’t even remind us when they saw how stressed we were.
Seven days later we left the hospital and went home. And suddenly we were three. And we started co-parenting and learning.
Our little man became our priority and we didn’t lowered our guard until he hit the 10 kilo mark, was crawling, his flat head was sorted out and the paediatrician confirmed we didn’t need to worry about a mild heart murmur.
When he turned one we realised that us, the couple who loved going to the movies, having dinner at fancy restaurants and inviting friends over, had become the couple who never went out, who rarely entertained. We then moved to Melbourne and I became pregnant with our daughter. Given my complicated first pregnancy, any free time was taken up by medical appointments.
But we didn’t care. In fact, we embraced the change.
See, us, like many other couples, have no family in the city where we live. It’s us and our children. That’s it.
The three times the grandparents have visited we thought about leaving our children with them and go out for a coffee or movie, but the timing wasn’t right. The children were too little and didn’t want to see us leave.
It was until our son was almost 3 years old and our daughter 9 months old that their auntie visited and we were able to go out on a date. But it wasn’t the romantic dinner we had planned. We went to the movies at 10 am to watch the last instalment of the Planet of the Apes trilogy. And we loved it. It was as romantic as it gets and then we held hands and walked to a café for a quick lunch. Here’s the catch: as much as we enjoyed it, we also missed our kids.
So, our new dates include our children, and they take place every Saturday or Sunday morning.
We take great pride in planning our family dates. We cater for the children first, but we also do things that we like, like trying new restaurants or going to museums or historical sites. We also love hunting for new and cool street art. We try to brunch with them at different places where they feel at ease and share with them things that made us who we were, including a trip to the movies to watch Coco.
Some days, when we are tired or can’t stretch the budget we have a picnic, or go to the park, and enjoy being out together.
I try to wear makeup and my pretty clothes. I try to make sure my children look their best, wearing their not-spoilt-by-finger-paint clothes. We leave at about 9am, go to the park or the markets or some other adventure, have lunch and then come back home at about 1.30. Both kids usually nap for a couple of hours, which gives us time to reconnect (even if that means having a deep conversation while folding clothes or cooking for the week!).
And this is the beauty of parenthood, it gives you the chance to reinvent yourself – and your marriage.
We are now a unit of four. One day it’ll be just us two again. We will dine in fancy restaurants and go to pretentious wine tastings with other couples commiserating over an empty nest. We’ll miss our children and the family dates we had. In fact, we’ll try to organise them as often as possible. In the meantime, we just enjoy the stage we are at. It doesn’t matter that we don’t hold hands as often, or that we have to guess if that ‘I love you’ was for meant for each other or one of our kids.
My sister-in-law will visit sometime this year, and chances are she’ll stay with my children for a few hours while her brother and I go out on a date – and we’ll be super grateful, and will use those hours to watch a movie and then talk about our next family date. And if you wonder why we don’t get a nanny, well… we’re not ready yet, we think they are too little and we would stress out instead of enjoy an evening together.