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11 Simple Date Night Ideas for Parents That Don’t Suck, According to Parents

A bunch of parents filled us in on their favorite date-night rituals with their spouses. Here's what they said.

Free time is the first casualty of fatherhood. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, it is still something that requires a lot of life re-calibration, particularly when it comes to spending quality time with your spouse. One thing that’s less frequent: date nights. But that doesn’t meant they’re any less important. In fact, time alone with your partner becomes even more necessary during parenthood, as it provides you with a one-on-one moment to connect and remind yourselves why you agreed to bring life into the picture in the first place. In short, they earn capital for your marriage

Date nights, however, take on a lot more weight when you have kids because, well, they’re more or less your one escape from family routines. So, whatever you do better be worth it. That’s why we spoke to a variety of busy parents about their favorite date nights and why they found them so entertaining. We hope they give you some inspiration for your next night out.

Dinner and a Nerf War

My absolute favorite dates are when we stay in. The children spend the night at my parents home a few times a month and if it so happens that my husband has a day off that falls on a day the kids are elsewhere, we claim the night as ours and get completely childish. We pull out the boys’ Nerf guns, set up obstacles around the house, and we have all out Nerf wars. Riley, Missouri

A Good Scare

My wife and I love scary stuff. A couple years ago a client gave me tickets to a really elaborate Baltimore haunted house called the Nevermore Haunt. It wasn’t what you’d call romantic but it was intense and fun to experience something like that on a date together. —Owen, Maryland

Fatherly IQ
  1. How much personal time per week do you set aside to just take care of yourself? (not think about work or your children)
    Over 10 hours
    Between 5 and 10 hours
    Between 1-5 hours
    Less than an hour
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Korean Karaoke

In Koreatown in Manhattan, they have places where you can rent private karaoke rooms for a couple hours. Drinking’s encouraged and a bunch of Korean barbecue restaurants will deliver food. My wife and I aren’t great singers but that actually made it more fun. My wife sang Katy Perry and I stumbled through a bunch of rap songs after a couple of drinks. —Bob, Brooklyn

A Class Act

I can’t cook. I just have no affinity or patience for preparing food. My wife tried to remedy the problem by enrolling us in a one-off cooking class one afternoon. My cooking didn’t improve that much but taking the class with my wife was really fun. —Terry, Massachusetts

A Drive off into the Sunset

We live in rural Oklahoma so every date night is practically an adventure. It gets tired doing the same ol’ movie and dinner thing, which is pretty much all there is to do here. Some of my favorites are the ones that are unplanned. We know we’re going to do something but we aren’t sure what it is. We hop in the car, start driving and eventually end up somewhere. One night we were driving on the interstate through the Arbuckle Mountains, the sun was starting to set and I wanted to pull off somewhere to watch it. (Oklahoma has some gorgeous settings for sunsets if you know where to look.) We exited the interstate, took a couple turns and found ourselves on a back road that ended just below the top of one of the mountains. We got out, walked the rest of the way to a flat area and watched the sunset over the interstate. It was awesome watching the cars come and go, watching the sun go down. Life just kinda stood still in that moment. —Stephanie, Oklahoma

A Walk Around Town

My husband and I love our town. It’s this small, beautiful community that we moved to a few years ago. The people are nice, it’s diverse, and there are lots of things to see and do. Having kids makes us unable to do a lot of them, so on our dates — or honestly or errands that we transform into dates — we pick an area of town and just walk around exploring. It’s really nice and confirms why we moved out here.  — Jerry, Saisun City CA

Movie and a High

Yeah I know that technically, going to the movies is a boring date. But I can say for a fact that if you and your wife take some edibles right before you get into the Uber taking you to the theatre, it can be super fun. The movie feels real extra and while it was weird keeping it together to pay the babysitter, I really enjoyed the sex I had with my wife after the babysitter was gone. —Bryan, Pennsylvania

Trivial Pursuit and a Bottle of Wine

The date night that sticks out in my mind was kind of a disaster, at least at first. Our babysitter canceled at the very last minute. We were ready to go and the kids were looking forward to seeing the sitter so everybody was upset. But we all settled down and the kids went to bed early, so we opened the bottle of wine we wanted to take to dinner and drank it while we played Trivial Pursuit. —Mike, California

A Puzzling Room

We tried an escape room when they were kind of unknown. Now, they’re well known enough to be on shows like Bob’s Burgers and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia but this was when newspapers were writing about them as brand new things. I think I did a bad job explaining what would and my wife seems a little annoyed with it at first.  But as we worked together to solve the room she brightened up. We did some clever thinking and it was nice to remind her that I’m a pretty smart guy even though I might put the kid’s clothes on backwards sometimes. —Dave, New Jersey

A Joint Stretch

I’ve always loved yoga but my husband was skeptical about the practice for a long time. He was a college athlete and has old school views on exercise and keeping in shape. He didn’t think that what he called “fancy stretching” could be a real workout. I signed us up for a couples’ class and twisted his arm until he agreed. The skepticism melted away and sharing mindfulness gave us a new sense of intimacy. —Michelle, Florida

A Whole Lotta Nothing

[My husband] works 14-16 hour days most days and I know he’d rather be able to stay home and do absolutely nothing. I’m completely okay with that. After you’ve been in a relationship with someone for awhile your priorities kind of shift from “where can they take me?” to “I’m just glad we’re in this moment together,” no matter where that moment happens to be. As I’m writing this we’re having one of our movie nights in. He’s sitting next to me on the couch with his hand in mine and I don’t have a care in the world. I don’t care where we go or don’t go as long as we do it together. —Laurie, Kansas