How to Get the Valentine’s Day Feeling All Year-Round
Flowers, candy, jewelry, champagne…isn’t Valentine’s Day grand? If you’re like me, a parent to two small children, chances are your Valentine’s Day doesn’t look anything like that anymore, does it? Since our second son was born in 2009, my husband and I have been out to dinner, to a nice restaurant without the kids, exactly twice. For a while, it didn’t bother me but if I’m being honest, it’s starting to. It’s nice to be out with just him and have a decent conversation without a little person interrupting us.
When you only go out to an adult dinner once every two years, that sort of sets the bar pretty high as far as what you expect, doesn’t it? It has, and I now realize that waiting for those perfect (and expensive) adult outings is what is prohibiting us from getting more date nights. So during our last dinner out, which was just in December, I made it a resolution that I was going to try to do a “Valentine’s Day” outing every month of the year, and each month on the 14th I have marked in my planner to check and see if we’ve had an outing or at least have one planned. After all, the spirit of Valentine’s Day is to celebrate your sweetheart and your love for each other. Why only do that once a year?
For starters, when you’re spending $20-$60 for a babysitter on top of whatever your outing will cost, that’s a big factor. So here are over a dozen budget friendly activities you can do with your sweetheart to celebrate your love all year ‘round. I’ve separated the ideas by season so that they are more interchangeable. Think creatively when it comes to babysitters. Do a trade-off with another family or check if your local church, school or YMCA has a Parents Night Out where they will watch children for a smaller fee.
- Many cities have “restaurant weeks” during which you can sample nice restaurants with a special prix fixe menu. These are typically held during the winter months when restaurants are slow in hopes that you will visit them.
- During slower winter months, many museums offer cheap or free days to entice you to go. Find one near you.
- Take a winter walk or hike.
- Holiday lights are not just for kids anymore. If a sitter just really isn’t feasible, go for a late evening drive with the kids, when you know they’ll probably fall asleep in the car. Before you know it, it will be just the two of you chatting and enjoying the lights.
- Go to a local garden or landscaping center together, or a museum or other attraction that has great landscaping and gardens. Grab your camera/phone and your best thinking skills. As you admire what they’ve done, together think of ways you can incorporate their ideas at your home.
- Spring means the beginning of fishing season. If you don’t have a rod and reel, many counties and parks and rec departments have loaner programs. Go sit on the dock or by the water with your lines in the water, enjoy the silence and conversation.
- Late winter and early spring is also a big time for home shows, garden shows, home improvement and decorating shows and the like. See if your city is hosting one, as they are usually inexpensive to enter. Grab each other and walk around, gathering ideas so that you can DIY when you get home.
- Find a local lake or swimming hole, grab a cool drink and a book and go. Have a lazy afternoon by the water, just the two of you. No “Hey mom, watch this!” all afternoon.
- Grab a bottle of wine or champagne, some cheese and crackers and have an adult picnic.
- Go to a nice brunch together. Brunches can be a less expensive way to enjoy great restaurants.
- What is better than a quiet, cool, crisp autumn walk while you enjoy the fall leaves? Take the kids to a friend’s house to play for a bit, and go!
- Take a one-day workshop or series of classes together, even if it’s a freebie at your local home improvement store. When was the last time you learned something new together?
- Do you have small children that are too young for a haunted house or haunted hay ride, but you are longing to go? That describes me! Go on a Sunday night when it’s usually cheaper and not inhabited by teens.
Hopefully you find a few usable date ideas on this list so that you can celebrate your sweetheart every season of the year. Of course, don’t forget to check what’s in your Valpak each time it comes, as those Valpak coupons can be a great way to save money on restaurants and entertainment. Have fun!