To begin this series, this week I'd like to address the issue of the B-word- BABYSITTING! Because you can't go on a real date with the kids in tow! Date night is all about the one-on-one bonding between you and your spouse, and bringing the kids just really defeats the whole purpose.
Here are our most common babysitting solutions:
1. Family- we are lucky enough to have family close by, and so we use them and abuse them! We try not to use them too often (maybe a couple times a year) but it's a great option because it's a real treat for the kids to spend quality time with a grandma or a favorite aunt and uncle. When we do use family, we usually try to have some good food or other "bonus" that we give them to show our appreciation. Whenever we leave the kids with my mother-in-law when we go on weekend trips we try to bring back a little gift that is unique to the place we visited.
2. Trading with Friends- I have heard of this being done a few different ways, but what works best for us is having one other family who has kids around the same age as ours that we trade with. We take their kids once during the month, they take our kids another time during the month, then we usually keep two weeks free (inevitably things come up and we don't want to be overscheduled). Because our kids are young, we usually do from around 3:30-7:30pm on a Saturday- it's in between naptime and bedtime so there are fewer tantrums!
Another option for trading with friends is the "Babysitting Co-op" in which 4 (or more?) families rotate turns babysitting- Family A takes all the kids on the first Saturday of the month while Family B, C, and D all have their dates. Then the next week Family B watches all the kids while Family A, C, and D have dates, and so on. I think this would be fine if you don't have too many kids and you don't mind the commitment of every week. We're just afraid of that many kids and being tied to once a week!
3. Trading services- I think that bartering is a great option, especially if you have trusted friends (adult or teenager) that don't have children. You can always find services to offer in return for babysitting, like tutoring or music lessons for a teenager, or cooking, sewing, or grocery shopping for a friend. Don't be afraid to ask!
4. Staying in- Okay, I know this sounds lame, but you might be surprised at the fun things you can do at home with your spouse once the kids are in bed (no, not THAT! That's for after the date! ;-)) Come back next Friday for ideas on Dates at Home!!
It's Date Night- Do you have any unique babysitting solutions or fun and frugal date ideas? Leave a comment!