Remember about a year ago when I challenged M and me to Twelve Dates of Christmas? I don’t think I called it a “challenge” per say at the time. But considering it would be 12 more dates than the zero we’d planned the year prior, that probably can be deemed a challenge.
Clearly, we weren’t so great at making “we time” (or “me time” for that matter), but I chalk that up to two babies in just under two years.
With 2015 in the bag, we didn’t make all those dates happen. But we accomplished several and definitely generated momentum to hire babysitters and make time for ourselves, individually and together. In my book, that’s a success.
For 2016, I thought we ought to step up our game and make a little more “we time” this year. Our boys are getting older, we found a few babysitters, and we deserve an occasional adventure without our boys. I love ’em. But I know I love them more when we take some breaks and let them party it up with way cooler people (i.e. babysitters) than their parents.
So… It’s time for “Date Night Challenge: 16 in 2016.” Because I’m feeling generous, I would even love to have you join us. (Not on the actual dates… #sorrynotsorry.). But how about you plan and complete 16 dates with your spouse or partner or best friend or whatever company suits your fancy?
I’ll share some highlights on Instagram and would love to see what you’re up to as well. I will use the hashtag #16Datesin2016. Wanna play along?
To generate a few unique ideas, I opened up the Real Simple® and InStyle® magazines I grabbed from our local Jewel-Osco while standing in line at the grocery store. Those tempting impulse purchase sections always lure me in, and this time, I opted for some good reading material. (P.S. You can snag $1.00 off PEOPLE®, InStyle®, People StyleWatch®, Real Simple®, and Sunset® with this digital offer until 2/15/16 while supplies last.)
As I flipped through the pages, I put together a little mind map to generate as many ideas as I could. Each idea branched off the next. You can see the first round of my mind map here. I love how this brainstorming format keeps lots of new ideas flowing.
Here’s what I’ve got on our agenda for 2016. We’ve already laid out the highlights of our vacation allocation for the year and have a few ideas for dates we’d like to do, so I’ve included a couple on the list that are slam dunks for us. I’ve also added a few options that are a stretch, but I’m hoping the majority are realistic though not boring.
Our list of #16Datesin2016
1. Fitness class ~ We did Barre class together. I love barre classes and M doesn’t generally attend with me. But my studio offered a “Bring a man to class” event so we took them up on this. You could also try yoga, spinning, kickboxing, boxing, or a host of other fitness classes.
2. Weekend retreat ~ Visit a wellness resort for a weekend together. Maybe we could even get our parents to babysit.
3. Dinner and a movie ~ I know it’s a classic, but sometimes trends become classics because they are great. We may even try one of those movie theaters where they serve dinner. They just opened one near our place. Dinner and a movie at one place? Two birds, one stone!
4. Sports game ~ I like some sports games but it’s almost always a good choice for M. When making your list, keep in mind what both of you like, especially if you aren’t making the list together.
5. Cooking class ~ I’ve really come to appreciate a good cooking class. They can be a bit of an investment. But I always leave with some valuable skills I use in my own kitchen. I consider it an investment in myself and not just a night on the town.
6. Run and breakfast ~ M and I are both training to run a half marathon for charity in June. I am NOT a runner, so this is definitely new territory for me. We rarely can run together because someone has to watch the boys. But I’d love to take advantage of daycare one morning and go for a morning run together. Of course, we’d have to stop for breakfast after the run!
7. Open house tour and lunch ~ Even (or maybe especially) if not in the market for a new house, tour a few homes on the market in your area or an area you both like. It could be a great idea to come up with new ways to spice up your own home. More importantly, it’s a pleasant and active experience you get to spend together in peace. It could be a great date for wintertime when active dates are a little more challenging. (I recognize this isn’t exactly an exhausting, full body workout. But it will certainly help you rack up a few more steps on your fitness tracker.)
8. Boggle and crepes ~ Pair a little healthy competition with a sweet indulgence of dessert at home. These crepes I made are super easy. You can definitely master them in your own kitchen.
9. Hors d’oeuvres hopping ~ Head to an area in town that has several restaurants. This works particularly well for us living right downtown in a restaurant district. Grab a seat at a bar, no reservation needed, share an appetizer and a drink, and move on to the next place. Try three or four places and you’ll have plenty of food and drink to fill the evening.
10. Dessert date ~ It could be donuts, ice cream, chocolate, whatever suits you. It definitely doesn’t have to be fancy. Maybe you even make crepes or ice cream sundaes at home after the kids are in bed.
11. Ice skating and hot chocolate ~ This sounds straight out of a movie. And I totally want to do it. It was on our list last year but we never got around to it. Chicago has a new outdoor skating ribbon that’s really neat. We’ve been with family, but never just the two of us. And M loves hot chocolate, so that would be a great way to warm up after a cold skate.
12. Make dinner together at home ~ Send the kids to someone else’s place for the night (grandparents, friends, aunts and uncles, etc…). Maybe swap with another family who has kids. You take their kids one night and they take yours another.
13. Lunch or breakfast together ~ If you work near each other, schedule a lunch date. M and I have a recurring breakfast date on our calendar. Sometimes it gets cancelled, but it’s nice to have a placeholder and try to make it work periodically. We drop the boys at daycare, enjoy breakfast together, and head our separate ways to work. You could try a similar idea with lunch if that’s better for your schedule.
14. Be a tourist in your own town together ~ This list of activities could be endless. But pick something local that you’ve been putting off and just do it! In Chicago, we might head to the top of the Sears Tower to check out the Skydeck.
15. Visit the factory of a product you like ~ Is there a local beer, chocolate, or coffee factory in your area? How about a winery? We have all of those options within an hour or so of our apartment.
16. Attend a gala for charity ~ It’s a fun chance to dress up. You’ll enjoy a great night together. No need to do the heavy lifting to figure out where to go or what to do. And it’s all for a good cause. Kudos to you!
Those are the 16 I hope we accomplish in 2016.
More Date Night Ideas
I know you all have different tastes and preferences than me. You also live in different areas so what works for us won’t always make sense for you. To get your brainstorming engines firing, here are some more ideas to consider that might be great for your #16Datesin2016 Challenge.
Take a tour of a local sports facility ~ This might be a little like being a tourist in your own town. But either way, have you taken a tour of your local stadium, arena, or professional field? Sign up and get a behind the scenes look together. I’ve toured Soldier Field in Chicago, home of the city’s professional football team. Even though I’m neither a Bears nor a football fan, it was definitely interesting.
Experience nature ~ Go for a walk or a hike, go canoeing or biking, or visit a state or national park or preserve together.
Visit a restaurant you’ve seen highlighted in local media ~ Whether it be in a local magazine or on television, a food or travel show, the local news, or even one of those airplane magazines in the back of your seat in front of you, local media outlets are always highlighting the best of the area. Take advantage of all the leg work they’ve done to find unique spots and check one out.
Attend a seasonal festival ~ The state fair, a winter carnival, the spring strawberry fest, or whatever is in your area. Stop by together and have a little fun.
Attend an open mic night ~ May not be the highest quality, but you never really know, right? And it’s probably affordable. Give it a shot? What do you have to lose? Worst case, you supported some very nervous aspiring performers in great company.
Rooftop bar for a few drinks ~ You may have to go downtown for this one, but make a night out of it.
Arcade, pool hall or bar game date ~ M loves (and is pretty good at) bar games like darts, fuseball and bubble hockey. While it’s not something we would do every night, it would be fun to try this together once in a long while.
Concert or theater performance ~ Another staple, it’s popular for good reason. We’ve seen a few shows over the years. We try to make sure they are shows we would both like, and it’s been a great night.
Museum and brunch ~ Many museums have free days for residents. Also, credit card issuers offer free days as benefits and some employers also offer free or discounted days. Consider your local planetarium, aquarium, science museum, art museum or art gallery and grab a drink after the event.
Paint and wine ~ Head to one of the paint and wine shops. They have them in many towns.
Go to a coffe shop ~ Chat. Not about the kids. Or logistics. Parents often lose site of each other getting caught up in life around children. Enjoy each other’s company. Be together beyond the daily grind. Revisit your List of 100 Dreams. Or make a combined List of 100 Dreams of goals you share.
Enjoy a local floral show ~ We have an annual show in Chicago each spring.
Hit up your local farmer’s market without the kids ~ It’s quaint and relaxing, and you could even get a little shopping for the week done.
If you’re still in need of more ideas, grab your favorite issue of a recent magazine like I did to start a mind map. They’re loaded with great tips to get your creative juices flowing.
On your next date night, if you share a sneak peek on Instagram, be sure to share with #16Datesin2016 so we can check it out and be inspired!
This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and InStyle® and Real Simple® Magazines but all opinions are my own. #pmedia #NewYearMeTime Disclosure Information