4 Ways to Forget Guilt When You're Out On a Date Night
You finally secure a babysitter. There’s a new restaurant you’re excited to try and even a couple movies out that look interesting.
But let’s be honest. Just having a night to eat dinner at your own pace without wiping up spills or cutting food, and having an adult conversation with a drink is enough for you. It doesn’t have to be fancy.
It’s been far too long since your last date night, even though after the last one you vowed to make it a regular occurrence, life just got busy and babysitters seem hard to come by. You both NEED this night away if you’re going to keep up with the pace of your life.
So why is it, as the day arrives, as you get things together to make life easier on the babysitter, and wait for her arrival, do you start to have second thoughts? Why do your kids always behave and look so cute right when you’re about to leave them?
Why are you feeling guilty?
Your kids are fine. Your babysitter is great. This is good for them and it’s exactly what you need. But as you wave goodbye (or sneak out as I sometimes have to do to avoid a meltdown), a small cloud hangs over you. It’s not the image you had of you skipping hand in hand with your husband out to the car to enjoy your adult evening.
It’s a crazy feeling and we’ve all been there. That internal conflict between two very strong thoughts - one logical (date nights are important to the strength of your partnership), and one not-so-logical (I spend so much time with my kids already that that should be reason enough to not spend ANY time away from them).
What do you do when that small cloud of guilt still hangs over you threatening to ruin a great date?
1. Allow Yourself To Be Distracted
This is why I love date night plans that involve being with or around other people, some sort of entertainment like a movie or a concert, or something that’s new to you both whether it be a new restaurant, a new activity, or a new neighborhood. Allow yourself to immediately be distracted from thinking about or worrying about the kids.
2. Learn Something New
A great way to be distracted is to try a new activity. There have been lots of articles written about the strength of relationships where couples are active and trying new things together - a shared experience. Whether that’s something active like bowling, batting cages, or top golf or something instructional like a cooking class or wine tasting, or something challenging like an escape room, not only will you have fun with your date, you’ll have great stories to tell the kids and create something special with your husband.
3. Express Gratitude
You’re out on a date night. Your kids are well-taken care of. There’s a lot to be grateful for. Nothing turns negative or uncomfortable feelings around (like guilt) like a quick run through of what you’re grateful for in that moment. You shift your thoughts from,
‘I should be spending time with my kids’,
‘I should be the one putting them to bed’,
‘they’re going to miss me and be sad’
‘I’m so lucky to be able to do something fun with just my husband - to show my kids that I love and enjoy my marriage’,
‘we have a great babysitter and they’re going to have so much fun with her’, and
‘I’m grateful that they get to experience other adults caring for them but always know that I’ll be back home for them soon as mom’.
Those latter thoughts feel so much better. And the thing is, THEY’RE TRUE. You just have to choose to think those over the thoughts that make you feel guilty.
4. Think About the Future
When you’re raising young kids, it’s easy to get caught in the here and now of this stage of life. But as any seasoned parent will be happy to remind you, it does go by quickly. Before you know it, those kids will be adults, out in the world, living their own lives. But you won’t be alone then. You’ll be with your spouse. And I don’t know about you, but I sure hope we still have things to talk about and still enjoy spending time with each other. And the best way that you can ensure that, is by investing in that relationship now. Continue to talk to each other, to challenge each other, to dream together, to learn together, to be adventurous together. Those are the things that will keep your relationship strong to help you get through the challenging, crazy, messy, and exhausting days of parenting.
Teaching a Lesson
Feeling guilty when you go out on a date night, especially if it’s not a regular occurrence, is totally normal. But you shouldn’t let the guilt overshadow your time or take over your date. Remember why you’re doing this. And remember that your kids are cared for, they know they’re loved, and they’re probably having a blast. What’s there to feel guilty about?
You’ll be back in no time and you’ll be a better mom for having taken some time for you, for your marriage, and for your own future. Your kids may not see that in the moment, especially if they’re young, but they will look back with respect at the time you took to invest in your marriage. You are teaching a lesson, to them, and to yourself.
Get out there and have fun. And be sure to end that date night with a plan for when and what you’re going to do for the next one.