You spent the morning debating the finer points of Barney with a 2-year-old, and the afternoon scrubbing orange crayon off the wall behind the toilet. And you’ve just woken up at the kitchen table with a Cheerio stuck to your chin.
As a parent, it’s easy to be so focused on the needs of your children that you forget all about your own needs – for example, that need for adult conversation, or the need to have a legitimate reason to take a shower. And when was the last time you and your partner talked – really talked – about anything that didn’t somehow relate to your children?
To maintain your identity and your sanity, and honestly, to continue being a good, happy parent, you need a night out.
But the challenge of planning a Parents’ Night Out (scheduling, planning, finding somewhere to go, financing the whole operation) is sometimes so insurmountable, it’s easier just to pick the Cheerio off your face and carry on. You haven’t been out without the kids in what, six months? A year?
You need a night out.
Here are some ideas to make planning a Parents’ Night Out less work and more fun:
- First, break out your smartphones and compare calendars with your partner or friends. Remember, your night out doesn’t have take place on a weekend. Heck, it doesn’t even have to be at night. Just find some time in the near future to put a little distance between yourself and those little people who look like you.
- Speaking of the cherubs, the first rule of Parents’ Night Out is no kids! So you’ll need to make arrangements for childcare. If you can enlist the help of a friend or family member, great! If you can plan a sleepover at your kids’ friends’ houses, fabulous! If not, see if there are any Parents’ Night Out programs coming up at your local library or YMCA. For a small fee, these organizations will usually give your little one something fun to do while you recharge yourself with some grown-up time.
- If all else fails, hire a sitter, but expect to pay upwards of $10 an hour for the service these days. Better yet, plan a night out with some friends who are also parents, and share the cost of the sitter. SitterCity lets you search for qualified, experienced sitters in your area, in various rate ranges.
- Next, where to go? What to do? Can you find a dinner or entertainment deal on Groupon, Living Social or Google Deals? How about a movie? Check with your municipality to see if they sell reduced-price passes to your local theater, or purchase a discount pack of tickets at Costco or BJs. Or, if the weather is nice, take a picnic to the park. You could find a tasting event at a local winery, or spend an afternoon at the farmer’s market.
- Or, instead, maybe you want to plan a Parents’ Night In. Drop the kids off at Grandma’s and rent a few flicks you didn’t have time to see in theaters. Or invite some friends over for a dinner party or game night.
- Try to refrain from calling and checking in more than once or twice. Remember that you’ve left your children in the competent hands of a friend, family member or qualified babysitter, and everything will be fine. If there’s a problem, they’ll call you. If you’re calling home every 20 minutes to talk to your kids, you need to go back and re-read the first rule of Parents’ Night Out. No kids! Enjoy every moment of this time spent with your husband, your wife, your friends, other adults, because who knows how long it will be until you’ll get another chance?