Put away the Accelerator Mass Spectrometer. I’m talking about actually leaving the couch behind and going out-of-doors to hang with your significant other.

I know, you’ve been together for a while and now, maybe you’ve chosen to spend what little free time you have relaxing in sweatpants on couch. But back when you first got together and children were someone else’s horrible life choice, it was a given that you’d regularly polish up a shoe, comb your hair and go out to DO ANY DAMN THING YOUR HEART DESIRED. YOU DIDN’T HAVE TO MAKE SURE IT WAS A KID APPROPRIATE BAR! YOU DIDN’T NEED TO PLAN A MONTH IN ADVANCE TO MAKE SURE YOU FOUND SOMEONE TO SIT! YOU COULD LEAVE WHEREVER YOU WERE WHEN YOU FELT LIKE IT, NOT WHEN YOU FELT FORCED TO LEAVE BECAUSE SOMEONE WOULDN’T STOP SCREAMING!

Sorry.

I feel you. It’s hard to go out on a date now. Don’t hate me for stating this, but my kids are finally at an age where we can leave them at home for a few hours and probably, the house won’t burn down. At worst, my kids will stare at screens for too long. That being said, my wife and I still rarely go out, just the two of us. There’s always something else to do or we’re tired or we don’t want to spend the money.

Well, that’s all changing this year, baby.
We’re going out.
YOU’RE going out.
Here’s my untested, unproven tips for making this year, date year. I know, I’m just some downtown elite in the big city who has kombucha festivals and noisecore concerts at the end of my street every night of the week. But my tips may offer something to spark an idea closer to your environment and situation. Here’s my short list of ideas for quick dates where you can spend some time together and hopefully not just talk about the kids, for a few minutes.

  1. IKEA. Not only will they take care of your kids (as long as they’re between 37” and 54” tall, toilet trained and wearing socks), they serve food! What it lacks in ambience, it makes up in funny named products.
  2. Grocery shopping. I know, it sounds like a terrible idea and doing it with your kids is like being awake during surgery if the surgeon kept asking you to buy things for them they’ll rarely use and never eat. But it does give you a valuable opportunity to talk to your partner about the important things. Not just about which yogurt to buy. You can apply this to any outing. I guess I’m saying, use your limited time wisely.
  3. Take a class together. Finding an interest that you share is a great way not just spend time, but to bond over something new. SPOUSE™ and I go to a weekly yoga class on Saturday mornings. I drag my ass outta bed for it and grumble for the first 15 minutes, but afterwards, I not only feel pretty damn good (sometimes just about myself), I also get a sense of accomplishing something good with my partner. I guess you could apply the same logic to eating onion rings.
  4. Walks. I know you walk all the time, but there’s something different about saying “Let’s go for a walk“. You can be focused or you can meander. It can be 10 minutes or 110. But again, if you put some intent into it, it changes the outcome. 

I know I’m not handing anyone hidden treasure with these. But if you see where I’m going with this, you’ll find that I think that spending time with each other and talking is more important than is given credit. The brief time we spend together during the long week isn’t enough to cover everything. And dedicating some time and pledging to not stare at devices or Netflix or whatever trivial distraction is easiest is something that we all take for granted. SPOUSE™ and I have been doing numbers 2-4 for the last few months with some regularity. We have not been going to IKEA enough, I will add. We still need to rely on texting or email during the week, but just by often doing some of these things, the lines of communication seem more open than ever because we’re creating opportunities to spend time with each other.

So, what about you? What do you and yours do to make sure you get quality time together? What are some quick date locations that work for you?

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