As a mom, my focus is almost always on my children. If I’m not careful, I may go through a day without meaningful, intentional dialogue with my husband (beyond the usual day-to-day updates and kid talks). Yet, the strength of the family depends on its foundation – the core of a family unit is between husband and wife. If we are not careful in nourishing our relationship with our spouse, we are raising children on a shaky foundation. During these COVID days, it is even more important to make sure we take the time to strengthen this relationship. Date nights are tough when you have nowhere to go. I supposed Thanh and I have a little bit of an advantage here because we’re hermits even during pre-COVID days. haha. We both work full time and send our kids to daycare full time. Hence, we never felt it was right to hire a babysitter on our days off. We want our kids to feel our presence on days we don’t work. Now, our kids are home 24/7 and I work remotely. It’s harder to fit in time with Thanh because I work when the kids go to bed. However, I recently implemented a no-work Saturday rule and it is such a breath of fresh air. So on Saturdays, it’s all about self-care (facial mask!), reading a good book, and having quality time with Thanh. I think movies have their place (and are certainly entertaining), but I avoid movies as a date night activity because it doesn’t lend itself to good conversation. When you think about it – watching a movie is basically two people staring at a screen for two hours and then falling asleep because it’s way past their parental bedtime. 😛 So what are some good alternatives? I’m sharing my 7 favorites below:
1. Paint Nite (alcoholic beverage optional)
Did you know it’s actually quite easy to set up a paint nite at home? And you might be pleasantly surprised to discover your hidden artistic talents! It turns out Thanh is better at painting than me. That’s okay; I win in the photography department. 😛 What you need for paint nite:
- Acrylic paint
- Set of paint brushes
- Palette paper
- A good tutorial – I recommend browsing The Art Sherpa and/or Angela Anderson for an easy follow along tutorial. Be sure to choose a painting that both you and your spouse are interested in.
2. Learn to Dance via YouTube
When we were preparing for our wedding, Thanh and I signed up for dance lessons as not to embarrass ourselves during the first dance. We had a blast learning from our dance instructor Heidi. Without fail, we laughed at every session. I’ve always wanted to learn more but it’s definitely tough to find the time for private dance lessons when you’re juggling work and kids. Fortunately, there are YouTube tutorials! We like the lessons from Passion4dancing
3. Listen to a Podcast Together
I love a good book. But I like to read by myself. That’s my me-time. Audiobooks and podcasts, on the other hand, I enjoy listening with Thanh. Most recently, we tuned into Michelle Obama’s brand new podcast. Other podcasts we both enjoy include: TED Radio Hour, The Moth Radio Hour, and Personal Best.
4. Trivia Night via Zoom
I am borrowing this idea from my friend Nancy, who recently hosted a trivia night. It was so creative, clever, and FUN! She gathered friends from across the globe and got us puzzling over some obscure facts. However, she was very thoughtful to have included a few questions within our areas of expertise so everyone can feel smart at least once throughout the night. 😛 I totally nailed those Canon and Piaget questions. To keep the game fun, she included a lot of varieties, like a visual round, Price is Right round, music mashups, and a 50/50 round. Nancy went above and beyond to include prizes for the top 2 winners! Thanks to the final jeopardy round, I went from fourth place to first. Now I’m eagerly anticipating my homemade baked goods in the mail. 🙂
5. Game Night for Two
Don’t really care to host a trivia night? There are plenty of games that can be played by two! We love Heads Up (there’s a kid-friendly version, too, so you can play with the whole family). And some beloved classics include Uno, Skipbo, Scattergories, Spoons, Speed, Jenga, and of course, Scrabble.
6. Learn to Cook a New Recipe Together
I think you’re starting to see a trend – I keep recommending something *new* to try out together. Research has shown that one key characteristic in long-lasting relationships is how often the couple participate in new activities together. When we engage in a new activity, we get excited and there’s an added adrenaline rush, which we tend to misattribute as re-igniting the spark with our partner. 🙂 Sometimes, you can try something new within a realm that you’re comfortable with, like trying a new recipe because you enjoy cooking. And the bonus to this is that you get to enjoy a delicious meal together (hopefully)! And if you’ve ever been curious about the Vietnamese cuisine, we think Andrea Nguyen has the best, most authentic recipes. If you’re new to the Asian cuisine, we recommend starting with The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook’s simple and practically fail-proof recipes. Even I can handle these! If you haven’t figured out by now, Thanh is the chef in our house. 🙂 I’m mostly responsible for photographing his dishes. 😛
7. Murder Mystery Subscription Box
Okay, this is one I’m suggesting from pure curiosity. I actually haven’t tried it! But my interest is piqued! The Deadbolt Mystery Society is a monthly subscription to make you feel like Sherlock Holmes. Catch a killer. Solve a crime. Stop a madman. Sign me up! If you’ve tried this subscription or another similar service, please let me know what you think! I need a little nudge to the dark side. 😛
And there you have it! Whether you’re stuck at home or choosing to stay in, I hope these ideas generate wonderful conversations and moments of connection between you and your spouse. Love, after kids, is different. It’s more effortful, more intentional, more meaningful, and I believe more rewarding. 🙂 Despite the pandemic we’re facing, I wake up each day with immense gratitude for getting to do life with Thanh.