Guest article provided by: laurenslaw.blog
Thanks to two toddler daughters — a four year old and 19 month old — my husband and I aren’t getting out for many date nights. Plus, it’s not helping anyone that according to The Wall Street Journal, teen babysitters are charging $30 an hour now, because they can. Woof. That’s expensive. Let’s not even get started on the labor shortage that might make your dinner out less than pleasant or inflation that has made everything exorbitantly more expensive.
So while traditional date nights are rare encounters for us these days, my husband and I have learned to embrace and love our own date nights at home. Once our daughters go to bed of course. Below are our favorite at-home date night activities that help us reconnect.
Make Your Own Pizza
Stay with me here; you don’t have to be a famous chef to pull this off. Trader Joe’s (TJ’s) is the secret ingredient to this recipe. They sell everything you need in the same aisle: pizza dough (I personally love both kinds they have, Garlic & Herb Pizza Dough and Plain), pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese, and pepperonis. Sometimes we swap the pepperonis for veggies and do chopped bell pepper, avocado, and cherry tomatoes. Yes, veggies on pizza should make you feel HEALTHY.
The sky is really the limit here on all your options, if you want to try some of our other beloved recipes:
- Barbeque Chicken Pizza: TJs also has the best chopped onions that make the best topping for any pizza. You can use rotisserie chicken and barbeque sauce on top of your usual pizza sauce and mozzarella cheese.
- Pesto Pizza: Everything is better with Pesto and maybe a little bit of olive oil.
- Pear and Goat Cheese Pizza: The title is self-explanatory.
Follow the directions on the pizza dough. Our pizza usually takes about 18 minutes and makes eight decently sized pizza slices. The toughest decision is deciding if you’ll share leftovers with the kiddos… Confession: my husband and I do sometimes make this as a family dinner because it’s super popular.
Bonus ideas for this date and the others that follow: there’s something about a candle lit, music playing, and an open bottle of wine that makes all of these dates extra special for me.
Break Out a Puzzle
I know what you’re thinking. Nerd alert! If you haven’t done a puzzle recently, you’re missing out. I got back into them during vacation with friends a few years ago. Someone brought a puzzle along, and everyone would take turns jumping in and working on the puzzle as a group or individually. It was such a joy to do after dinner over great conversation and wine. A rainy day was less frustrating too because there was an engaging, indoor activity for everyone.
If you haven’t puzzled in a while, my biggest advice is to start small. Like literally small. Three hundred pieces is what I’d recommend because you can do a puzzle in one or two sittings. Once you move up to 500 pieces, the pieces get a lot smaller. Avoid pictures of all sky or water. Puzzles with mostly sky and water take forever because their colors are so similar. In my opinion, pictures with different colors are a lot more fun and easier to do.
Where does one buy great puzzles? Home Goods offers some of the best fan favorites featuring popular shows like The Office, Friends, and others. Barnes & Noble has an extensive puzzle collection as does Amazon. I’ve started doing puzzle swaps with my sister and plan to cast a wider net soon with friends and neighbors as my puzzle obsession continues to grow.
Let’s talk puzzle accessories next. A puzzle mat that allows you to roll up your likely unfinished puzzle is key. I recommend Amazon for that too. Before you cough and say “double nerd alert” a magnifying glass can be helpful for those with tired eyes, which all of us with young kids have.
Quiz Your Partner
So many “nerd alerts” in such a short blog. However, you have to trust me on completing “The 36 Questions That Lead to Love” from the New York Times. I was slightly hesitant before starting but soon my husband and I realized we couldn’t even get through all 36 questions in one sitting. It took us two different nights. The questions were emotional, stimulating, and required a vulnerability that we normally didn’t delve into.
Out of the gate, question number one sets the stage for just how compelling the questionnaire is:
“Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?”
A few of my other favorites:
“What would constitute a perfect day for you?”
“What is your most treasured memory?”
There are too many thought-provoking questions to note but this one stands out most to me:
“If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are living now? Why?”
It’s been two years since my husband and I did this questionnaire, and I want to do it again to see if/how our answers have changed. I promise, you won’t regret sitting down with your partner to go through some or all of these questions.
Thankfully, these three activities are not only cheap and easy, but if you give them a try, you’ll likely forget you’re stuck at home for date night. Plus, think of all the puzzles, wine, and pizza ingredients you can buy with all that saved babysitting money!
About the Author
A self-proclaimed grammar geek and lover of language, Lauren Burke Meyer is a columnist and reporter for The Severna Park Voice, children’s book author of Charlie STEPs UP to LACROSSE, and a Buzzfeed Community contributor, whose first article garnered 19.7K views. She is the founder of the Lauren’s Law blog, a humorous play on the well-known Murphy’s Law adage: “anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.”