Date Nights on a Dime

I don’t know about you, but, for my husband and me, date nights, especially Valentine’s Day, was one of those things that changed once we had kids.

Not only did we have less time to go out and celebrate, but we also had fewer resources.

Before kids, we could have dinner, go see a movie, and stroll through the bookstore before heading home. After our daughter was born, we realized we needed a babysitter and needed to work in a dinner date around her nursing schedule . . . and I would probably cry through dinner about leaving my one month old for the first time.

We got takeout.

Since then, we’ve become well-versed in ways to date at home, or on the cheap by working around the kids’ schedules. Here are five ideas to help you if you’re struggling to find time or other resources this V-Day or any other date night.


Think outside the “dinner date” box. You don’t necessarily need a babysitter. If your kids are in school, you already have childcare. Take advantage of it, and have lunch with your significant other! Meals are usually cheaper at lunch, and restaurants are less crowded. This has been our celebration of choice for the last couple of Valentines, and it has been such a lovely, low-stress date.

Pick a different day. My husband and I got engaged on February 12, so we usually end up celebrating that day anyway. It’s still in the Valentine season, but you don’t have to deal with the crowds. If you already have a regular monthly date night or standing childcare arrangements, make that your unofficial Valentine’s Day.

Stay close to home. While it can be fun, you don’t need to hit the most pricey downtown restaurants to have a great Valentine’s Day. Explore the local neighborhood restaurants and stores in your corner of Tarrant County. Pick up cupcakes and coffee from your favorite bakery. (I’ve included a couple of my family’s picks.) Or, go for a bike ride, walk, or drive together in your favorite neighborhoods.

Stay even closer to home. In fact, you don’t even have to go out at all. Pick up a movie and takeout, and be sure to use the good china. Bust out that Scrabble game you haven’t played since the kids came along. Put on Spotify, do a little slow dancing, and enjoy some uninterrupted time together.

Steal the time. Of course, all of the above ideas are fine and good if you have childcare, but what if you can’t be separated from your little ones this year? It’s still worth it to find some time where it’s just the two of you, and have a few special moments.


Get up half an hour before the kids to have a coffee date, or stay up a little later to squeeze in that slow dance. Watch your favorite movie during naptime instead of doing the laundry. Emerson was right that the greatest gift is a portion of yourself. Giving someone the gift of time is a pretty big deal during these busy parenting days — no matter how much money you spend along with it.

How have your Valentine’s Day celebrations changed since kids came along? What are your plans this year?

Tiffany is an Alabama expat who has been married to Jason since 2005 and has called Fort Worth home since 2007. They welcomed Catherine in 2012 and Nina in 2013. Tiffany recently retired after 10 years of librarian life to focus full-time on doctoral work at the University of North Texas and part-time on health and fitness coaching. In her spare (ha!) time, she enjoys blogging at, tweeting (@mrsmcbookworm), podcasting (, watching sports (Roll Tide!), and walking with Fred, their Bichon Frise. You will rarely find her without a cup of coffee, and she is a big believer in the one-minute dance party.


  1. Such great advice! Since we have a toddler who is at that age where eating at a restaurant is just a disaster, we are big on take-out + the good china. I like to light candles, put on classical music, and enjoy a special dinner, even with out toddler playing on the floor a few feet away. We also like to make a pallet on the living room floor and snuggle while watching a movie after she goes to bed. It’s our way of making the ordinary special.


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