I’ve finally determined that a babysitter is an undervalued resource in marriage. It should be a necessity. And babysitting should be a required budget line item in every marriage.
The Importance of Regular Date Nights
No matter how many kids you have it is so important to go on regular dates. Mr. B and I haven’t quite mastered a regular weekly date night but we have determined to go on dates as regularly as possible. It’s so necessary to move our marriage from happily ever after to healthy ever after.
Related Post: 5 Reasons I Stopped Trying for Happily Ever After
We have two teenagers and three littles (five years old and under). We have a blended family and have to work so hard to co-parent. And co-parenting teenagers is no easy feat. The new sparkling silver hairs at the top of my forehead can account for that.
Add in the regular duties of living with people who are vastly different from you (and have a different idea of what “wash the dishes” and “put your things away” means) and it can be trying for any marriage. And I’m not even talking about the kids here.
Just kidding. But seriously.
Mr. B and I decided early on that we have a No Options Marriage. And part of that must be regular dates, no matter how big or small.
And we have realized that even during difficult seasons where we are super busy or have high-conflict, we need to be even more intentional. Our date nights tend to turn into fight nights during high-conflict seasons so we set clear boundaries about when and what is allowable during our conversations. I found a tangible reminder helps. I’ve created a business-card-sized foldable printable with 12 Date Night Conversation Starters to specifically keep the conversation away from high-conflict conversations and even typical household management conversations.
I don’t want to always feel like we are talking about the house or bills or the kids. Sometimes we just need to be Ana and Mr. B, you know?
Related Post: 15 Cheap Date Night Ideas ($10 or Less)
Changing Your Mindset About Babysitting
So the question is: How do we pay for a babysitter?
We had to change our mindset about that. I always figured we couldn’t go on dates because we didn’t have the extra cash to hire a babysitter. But then we weren’t going on dates and we were starting to notice how disconnected we felt from each other.
In some seasons of our marriage, we didn’t even want to be in the same room much less on a date. But we made the commitment to do it because our marriage is worth it.
The times where we least want to be on a date are the times where we need the make the most effort to go on one.
In a No Options Marriage, a disconnect is not acceptable.
The Only Choices When Considering Whether To Pay For Babysitting
In the babysitting discussion, you only have two choices:
(1) Pay for a babysitter and a date
(2) Pay for a babysitter and a marriage counselor
I know we could include “pay for a babysitter and an attorney” but in a No Options Marriage, that’s obviously not an option. But for the sake of inclusivity, one could argue that you could pay for a babysitter and an attorney, which would also include another mortgage or rent payment, all new furniture, kitchen stuff, and everything else that would come along with splitting everything you own. Needless to say, this “option” is definitely the least desirable.
And if you have the added bonus of having to co-parent with an ex, like we do, you want to make sure you add in date nights to keep you connected.
If that’s not reason enough to include babysitting in your budget.
Five Reasons You Need Babysitting Included In Your Budget
(1) The Money Will Be Spent One Way or Another
You can either hire a babysitter and go on a date or you can hire a babysitter and pay for a marriage counselor. Trust me. Paying for a babysitter to go on a date will be a lot more fun and not as exhausting (depending on what you do for your date, that is).
(2) Preparation For Your Future
Let’s face it. One day, the kids will be gone. You don’t want to spend your first days or months as empty nesters wondering who the heck is sleeping next to you. Going on regular dates allows you and your husband to stay connected. Discovering things you enjoy doing together now will make that transition easier.
It is easy to get sucked into the kids’ activities. We want so badly to love them and give them everything they need. I can tell you two things they need for sure – to see their parents model a healthy marriage and to realize they are not the center of the universe. The world has enough narcissistic jerks. We don’t need anymore.
(3) Sets an Example of a Healthy Marriage
Relationship hierarchy in my life goes God>husband>kids.
I remember when I was getting remarried. The advice I got from a well-intending woman was “Just remember to put those kids first and you’ll be fine.” I wanted to say “Are you kidding! That’s the worst advice ever!”
I smiled and nodded (always my go-to response when I’m trying to bite my tongue).
Listen to me, sister. Your kids are important and when they are tiny little people, they require so much. I get it. But for the love of all things good in this world, please do not ever put them ahead of your marriage. Their little developing brains can’t handle that kind of responsibility. Even the most compliant child will learn to manipulate well-intending parents.
And just to reiterate reason #2 for why putting your kids ahead of your husband is a bad idea.
One day your kids will leave.
That’s not a bad thing. As a mom, you are trying to work yourself out of a job. Yes, you will always be their mom but you want to train them to be independent of you (and dependent on God).
(4) Remember Who You Are (Other than Being a Mom)
As Shania Twain sang, “Man, I feel like a woman.” Going on dates with your man gives you time to feel like a woman, not a milk cow or a maid. No sweats or messy buns. It’s not just time for your marriage. Consider it time for yourself. A time to re-energize, especially for stay-at-home moms.
I’ll be honest here. I can barely get myself to actually do my hair, so messy buns are still part of my date night attire. And then there was the one time we saw Thor: Ragnarok and Mr. B actually asked me to put on sweats. (Best date night ever!) Despite the messy bun, I do get to throw on some make-up and not look like Tammy Faye and I don’t have little people clawing at my pant legs or hanging from my boobs for a few hours. It’s glorious!
(5) Discuss Your Hopes and Dreams
What I love the most about getting a babysitter and heading out on the town is setting boundaries on what we are allowed to discuss. Sounds weird, I know. Mr. B and I noticed after awhile that our date nights were turning into fight nights. Anyone else?
It was a time that we could really hash out our grievances but then it would set a terrible tone for the one night we had together.
We decided to put the kibosh on that nonsense.
It has taken some practice but we have placed strict boundaries on what we are allowed to discuss on date night. Basically, nothing that causes dissension.
It’s a time to put aside our household management conversations, co-parenting-with-the-ex conversations, and how-in-the-world-did-protein-smoothie-get-on-the-ceiling conversations. We spend time together, just Ana and Mr. B, and remember what we love so much about being together and how we fell in love. It’s time to talk about our hopes and dreams.
Restore Heart Connection
We make room in the budget for all our necessities (medical expenses, clothing, mortgage, school lunch, and the list goes on). Babysitting and a regularly scheduled date night need to be included in that as well. I know there are times where the thought of a date is just unbearable. But having a disconnection with your husband is so much worse.
We noticed the change in our hearts toward each other when we made a commitment to our date nights. And you will, too.