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How “Date Night” Changed After Kids

The thing about having four kids, three of whom have ADHD, is that they take up a huge chunk of our lives. And when we have the night to ourselves? We aren’t sure what to do with all that free time.

It’s 7pm, and the kids have been at their grandparents’ house about two hours. So that’s about an hour and half that Laurie and I haven’t known what to do with ourselves. We dropped off the kids, went to dinner, and were driving around town trying to decide what to do next.

“We could just head home and enjoy a quiet house,” Laurie said.

I agreed, but I still couldn’t help feeling this would be a waste of a perfectly good (and free) babysitter. “We could go get dessert,” I said.

“Where?”

“Don’t know.”

[Free Guide: Find the Right Sitter for Your Child]

We discussed a few options, but they all involved either fast food, which wasn’t our ideal date night option, or going to another restaurant, which involved dealing with another wait-list and tipping another waiter.

“Well, we can go to a restaurant and get a dessert to-go,” Laurie said. She considered her own suggestion for a moment, and then got excited. “Ooh! We can go home and watch a show and eat our dessert in our pajamas!”

She made it sound both practical and fun at the same time. “Ok!” I said.

So we picked up a couple orders of Neapolitan cannoli and headed home. Once we got our pajamas on, I found us a show to watch and Laurie prepped our dessert. And as I sat on our couch, in my cozy pajamas, eating the vanilla cannoli, I couldn’t help thinking about the dates Laurie and I used to take before we had kids.

[Tips for Couples]

Of course, it was easy to go on spontaneous dates when there was no need for a babysitter. But also, if we had a rotten date night, it was no problem because we were probably going out the next night, and the night after that. Now, we don’t want to waste the money on an unfamiliar restaurant or on a lousy movie.

The thing about having four kids, three of which have attention deficit disorder (ADHD or ADD), is that they take up a huge chunk of our lives. Our days are full with doctor’s appointments and meetings at school with teachers and counselors. And our evenings are packed with sports, church, and so on. Even on nights when our calendar is clear, each room in the house buzzes with activity. So now when the kids are gone, Laurie and I aren’t sure what to do with all that free time.

“What do you think the kids are doing?” I asked Laurie.

“Hopefully getting their pajamas on and settling down for the night.”

“I wonder what they had for dinner.”

“Don’t know.”

I paused for a moment. “Should we call?”

Laurie chuckled. “Go ahead if you want to,” she said.

I played the conversation in my head: one of them would answer, then the other three would bicker over who got to talk to us next. One would tell us another had two sodas at dinner, the two-soda kid would get angry for squealing, and on and on…

So, looking at the glass as half full, I settled back in on the couch and started on my strawberry cannoli. I considered that no one would ask me for a bite. I’m in a quiet house without any griping about going to bed. And I’m sitting next to Laurie, who’s equally content with a quiet evening at home and the chocolate cannoli all to herself, and enjoying a break from four spirited but fantastic kids. The romance isn’t gone or even faded. It’s just changed considerably.

“I’m not gonna call,” I told Laurie. “I’ll see them tomorrow.”

“Good choice!” she said.

[Five Ways for Parents to Grab Some Me-Time]

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