Date nights can be a super helpful way to prioritize your romantic relationship after you've had kids, but let's be honest, it's not always easy to schedule alone time. As parents to two young boys, 19 Kids and Counting's Jill and Derick Dillard seem to know the struggle well, and in an Instagram Live video Thursday, the couple offered up their alternative: date nights eating take out in their minivan while their kids watch a DVD in the backseat. Jill Duggar's babysitter-free date night solution is actually pretty brilliant — provided, of course, that your kids are willing and able to hang out quietly instead of insisting you share your food with them and then fighting with each other for the remainder of the date itself. But as much as the idea seemed to go over well with Duggar fans, some thought the video may have also been Derick's way of taking a subtle swipe at his critics.
It's been quite a while since Derick's last appearance on the Duggar spin-off, Counting On — in November, TLC announced they'd cut ties with him in response to his anti-transgender tweets, according to People — and while Jill hasn't formally announced her own departure from the show, the couple was notably absent from the latest promotional image. But they definitely don't seem to be stepping away from social media: in addition to relaunching their website, Jill and Derick have continued to post about their lives on Instagram — including about their approach to date night.
In the video, taken from the front seat of their van, Jill explained that Derick "had a great idea for date night tonight," which was that, instead of hiring a babysitter and going out to a restaurant, they just grab a blooming onion from Outback Steakhouse and a couple of Greek salads from Panera Bread, and have their dinner date in the car while their boys sat in the back watching Curious George. As a mom of 5-year-old twins, I'm going to assume this plan works best when you've got really little ones, but I definitely have to give Jill and Derick points for thinking outside the box. Who needs to go to all the trouble and expense of having someone watch your kids while you go out, when you could just as easily squeeze in some quality time over salads in the car?
To be fair though, Jill and Derek do seem to be pretty skilled at making regular date night a reality, even while raising two young boys. Although part of that may be that having 18 brothers and sisters means you already have plenty of potential babysitters, they're also big fans of at-home dates. On Valentine Day, for example, Jill shared that Derek had "turned [their] house into a steakhouse" and cooked his wife a homemade meal:
And it's also definitely not the first time they've had date night in the car, either. In July, Jill shared that they decided to spend time enjoying each other's company over pizza in a parking lot (whatever works, right?).
But despite the the fact that their idea is a pretty great one for busy parents who just want to spend a little quality time together, there were some who were totally unimpressed with the video. And that isn't exactly unusual these days, actually: although Jill was long a Duggar family fan favorite, she and Derick have faced a fair bit of backlash from their controversial decisions that have left some fans pretty happy they aren't returning to the show.
In addition to Derick's judgmental tweets about Jennings, the couple came under fire for soliciting donations on GoFundMe to support their missionary work, and recently, Jill was criticized for using her Instagram popularity to attempt to win a contest that would net her a $350 prize.
For others though, the video itself was a sticking point — specifically because of Derick's commentary. In the clip, he referred to their date night as "a progressive date night," later adding, "the idea of the progressive date, is the children are contained. As you can see, the 2-year-old is contained. The baby is contained."
It's not entirely clear what he even meant by that, but according to In Touch Weekly, some fans thought he was taking a political jab — Derick is outspoken about his conservative and religious views, and in addition to his stated viewpoint that "transgender is a myth" and that gender is "ordained by God," he also regularly tweets about his anti-abortion stance.
If Derick was indeed trying to make some kind of point by calling their date a "progressive date," it didn't exactly seem to work. For the most part, they just appeared to be a normal family finding a workaround for a babysitter-free Thursday night, and that's something that virtually all parents can relate to. So while the couple may not exactly be feeling the love from Duggar fans right now, their video at least gives parents a helpful, sanity-saving tip. And really, who couldn't use a few of those every once in a while?