Being a parent is one of the most challenging jobs of all time. You’re never off-duty, there are no days off, and no one's ever heard of overtime. And sure, at your real job you have nights and weekends to yourself, but juggling the demands of both work and parenthood can feel… overwhelming. Free time? Ha! Self-care? Yeah right. Date nights? When would we have the time?
Sure, it takes monumental effort, a babysitter, and a string of small miracles to free a night up for date night, but it’s imperative to the health of your adult relationship. Parenting guilt be damned!
According to a recent poll, 88% of women in committed relationships say they don’t go on regular date nights. And 30% report they never go out alone with their partner.
Some parents feel guilty or hesitant to leave their kids with a sitter, worrying that they’ll feel abandoned or sad. (And it doesn’t help when they grab you by the leg and try to drag you back indoors). But research shows children whose parents prioritize their relationship experience a greater sense of well-being and stability.
30% report they never go out alone with their partner.
Researchers W. Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project, and Jeffrey Dew of Utah State University enumerate five main benefits of regular date nights:
- Communication: By removing distractions like children, work, and technology (hide your phones!) date nights provide opportunities for you and your partner to talk. Wilcox says “people change over time,” so the more you check in with each other, the more you know and understand one another and the more supportive, encouraging, and empathetic you can be.
- Novelty: When you and your partner engage in novel activities (anything from rock climbing to playing cards) you experience higher levels of relationship quality.
- Romance: Studies find that most relationships start as passionate and settle into secure companionships. Regular dates have been found to help rekindle feelings of intimacy and attraction between couples in long term relationships.
- Commitment: Couples who date each other are less likely to be unfaithful to one another, so get another date night on the books pronto!
- Well-being: Date nights have been found to reduce stress and strengthen feelings of support and commitment within the relationship.
Parenting guilt isn’t just reserved for the moms either. Although, yes, 9 in 10 women are victims of mom guilt, dads are getting the guilt too. According to a recent survey of over 1000 fathers, 1 in 4 experiences guilt: about not being able to provide, not being home enough, or missing important milestones with their kids. So don’t worry - you’re in this together.