The kitchen is a mess from the busyness of the day, coffee mugs and plates piled along with mixing bowls and way too many glasses. There’s still a pile on the entry bench from where I gathered all the loose items from around the house but didn’t get a chance to put them away. Jared comes down quietly from upstairs where he has just tucked the girls in, whispering because Kieran is almost asleep.
I’ve cleared a spot on the counter for our cutting boards and I start prepping while he mixes up an evening cocktail. It’s Thursday and it’s date night in.
It’s a simple practice that has become a weekly anchor and highlight for us. It’s not been easy or magical and there’s been a lot of interruptions in the form of little people but it has been so worth it. We’ve tried new foods, learned new techniques and had a lot of fun together.
A serendipitous late Christmas gift of the cookbook Date Night In , and the adjustment of a new baby born in January making going out more challenging has helped make this habit become a weekly priority.
We stick pretty closely to the cookbook, Ashley has done all the work of putting together menus, grocery list and prep timelines. She’s a busy mother of three and the cookbook came out of a desire to connect with her husband in these busy, exhausting years of raising littles. I read the book while feeding my very hungry newborn son and cried while reading almost every essay. This is a hard season, running on little sleep, parenting challenging children, making decisions about careers and balancing all the different relationships in our lives. Making big plans and dreams for house and property while also trying to love these little people and finding time to connect with each other.
We unwind by chopping vegetables, stirring and tasting. We light a candle and clink our glasses, quietly, to us and our marriage. Good conversation happens, we laugh together and we do a little big dreaming or just quietly eat while our food is hot and the wine is cold.
We alternate planning the date nights, one of us picks the menu and I just add the items to our grocery list. I’ll often glance through the recipe the day before and see if there is any marinating or prepping of sauces to make date night easier. We tag team on bedtime and date night prep. I’m often doing some prep while feeding the girls a very simple supper of toast or popcorn and smoothies. While I put the baby to bed, Jared is heating up the oven or mixing a cocktail. Sometimes we end the evening by cleaning the kitchen together, other nights we stack the dishes in the sink and call it a night.
Lately we’ve added a little more simplicity (and more budget-friendly) to the mix; we’ll pop a big bowl of popcorn, pour some wine and watch a movie or several episodes of a show. Some weeks we order takeout and sit on the couch, eating out of the containers while we talk over the week to come and relive good moments from the previous week.
Our favourite at-home snack is a tapas platter- we take whatever assortment of pickles and olives we have in the fridge, boil some eggs and slice up whatever cheese is in the fridge, adding some dried fruit, nuts and crackers. Sometimes we get fancy and stuff dates with goat cheese, wrap them in bacon and broil them for a few minutes.
We love cooking together; good food and drink is one of our favourite experiences to share. But the weekly connection is more then just good food, it’s time to talk and reconnect, to let the candles burn down low and to remember the person we married.
Now that Kieran is a little older and can be left with our awesome babysitter, we have gone out a few times especially if there’s a movie we want to catch on the big screen (I’m looking at you, Jason Bourne) or a patio we want to experience on a Halifax summer night. But we still come back to our weekly anchor of sitting together at the kitchen table, sharing good food and good conversation.
I’d love to know what your favourite date night in ideas are!