Today is our seventh wedding anniversary. Right now our kids are two and almost four and we’re discovering it isn’t always easy to find a babysitter. We don’t live close to family, we tend to run out of favors from friends quickly with all our appointments related to our son’s recently diagnosed ASD, and the two teenagers we trust with our kids are harder to book than a restaurant on Valentine’s Day. Because of this, we find we often have to get creative to have a little time to ourselves. Here are our tips for having a romantic dinner at home even if you have small children.
- Eat Dinner After Putting the Kids to Bed – This is the single most important component of having a romantic dinner at home. Kids are romance kryptonite. They’re messy, loud, and they demand attention. Our kids still go to bed fairly early so waiting to eat till they go to bed isn’t a big deal.
- Feed the Kids Something Easy – We’ll pick up a take n’ bake pizza or whip up a box of mac n’ cheese. For the kids this is a rare treat so they think it’s pretty awesome and we’re left with less clean-up and more time to focus on our dinner.
- Divide and Conquer – To make things go smoothly, we split our responsibilities for the evening with one of us being in charge of feeding and pajama-fying the children and the other being in charge of our dinner. This way there’s a stronger chance that our dinner is served within a reasonable time frame of the kids’ heads hitting their pillows.
- Choose a Fancy Menu – Whether you’re getting take-out or making something in your kitchen, choose something you wouldn’t eat when the kids are around because it’s too sophisticated or just plain expensive. We tend to gravitate towards grilled seafood because it’s delicious and feels fancy, but also isn’t terribly labor intensive.
- Don’t Forget Ambiance – It’s important to make this not feel like any regular dinner at your dining table. At the very least we wipe the table down and sweep the floors (remember how our children have already left their mark on the dinner table scene). Turn on some mood music (which also can help drown out any babblings that may be coming from your two-year-old’s crib), put out a tablecloth, light some candles, and use the fancy dishes. Sometimes we’ll even eat in a room where food is never, ever allowed when it’s in the hands of a tiny person.
- Dress the Part – Nothing makes me feel more unattractive than wearing a pair of jeans that my child so kindly snotted. After the rugrats are tucked in their beds we’ll freshen up before meeting at our reserved table.
- Eat Dessert – To me, one of the signals of how special a meal is whether or not it’s followed by dessert, so dessert is always a must when we’re having a fancy dinner at home. Sometimes we just treat ourselves to Ben & Jerry’s, but other times we’ll make something delicious like Gooey Chocolate Pudding Cakes or Crème Brûlée.
It’s still nice when the stars align and we’re able to go out on a real date, but when that just isn’t possible we find this works quite well. What tips do you have for having a romantic dinner at home?