The last time my husband and I went out to dinner alone was… actually, I can’t remember. But I can count on one hand how many times I’ve seen a movie in a theater in the last year. Before we had children we used to go out all the time. But even with careful preparation there's always something that goes wrong when planning a kid-free night. So, at a certain point, we just stopped seeing the point in putting in the energy, especially if we were paying a bunch of money for a babysitter.
I never felt deprived about not going out as much with my partner once we became parents. We made the most of our pre-kid days. We traveled, saw bands, checked out new restaurants. We took advantage of living in New York City, and once we became beholden to a tiny person’s nap and feeding schedules, we didn’t feel like we were missing anything.
But when we started to realize we were losing sight of our former selves, and tried to get out of the house for the occasional adult dinner or event, it took Herculean effort to pull it off. Having kids means life is always unpredictable. Even a Type A person like myself can’t control everything. So here are a few things that can, and will, go wrong every time you plan a kid-free night:
They Will Get An Intense Case Of The Sniffles 20 Minutes Before The Sitter Comes
It never fails. Kids have a knack for getting sick at the most inconvenient times. It took me a while to accept is that I am not the world’s worst parent if I let someone else care for them when they have a little cold. Anything more serious than that, though, and I would cancel all plans.
They Will Not Be Able To Find Their Blanket
Whatever their most prized possession is, it will go missing moments before I need to leave the house. It’s the same object I manage to trip over a million times a day, and yet, on the rare occasion I have plans, that’s when it magically disappears and the child dissolves into an inconsolable puddle of tears.
Diaper Blowouts (Yes, Plural)
One diaper blowout before you step out for date night is to be accepted. But more than one and you start panicking that you have a sick kid on your hands (and now, all over the rest of you). This is the same child who was able to eat six oranges in one sitting the other day with no stomach issues. These tummy troubles are a desperate, and effective, attempt to get the parents to cancel their night out.
The Babysitter Will Cancel
When I find a good babysitter, I covet them. I don’t give out their information, because I want them all to myself. Good caregivers are hard to find, I think. But they are not immune from getting sick… or making more desirable plans other than sitting on our couch and getting paid while our child sleeps.
The Weather Is Miserable
When I make kid-free plans, I never think that on the actual day of those plans I won’t feel like going out. Then it will rain or the temperatures will drop way below freezing and the last thing I want do is put on uncomfortably nice shoes and go out. I should really only make plans in the spring. You know, during periods of low humidity.
They Have Suddenly Developed A Debilitating Fear Of Some Random Thing In Your House
My daughter was never afraid of the dark… until she turned 10. Then, all of a sudden, all the lights outside her room had to be on in order for her to go to sleep. I know we are lucky, though, because a friend of mine told me her first grader developed a fear of their bathroom out of the blue, and demanded to be accompanied by a parent whenever she had to pee, thus making it tough for the couple to get out alone.
They Will Suffer A Minor Injury From Some Playground Escapade Earlier That Day
It won’t be more than a scraped knee or a bumped head, so nothing an ice pack and a lollipop can’t fix. But it will trigger an enormous swell of guilt that will second guess your “need” to go out and have grown-up time. Because what kind of monster would go out to dinner when their poor child is home covered in… a single Band-Aid?
You & You Partner Just Had A Huge Fight
The problem with putting in effort to have a kid-free night is that, if you are not in the mood to hang out with your partner that night, too bad. For this reason, I have never wanted to schedule sex, even though it’s been recommended to do so in order to keep a relationship thriving.
But scheduling a date night, and not being in the mood for one, feels less dire. Especially because we can both mellow out over a pre-date cocktail. That always helps to smooth things over.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.