There’s a defining moment dating someone with kids when you realize: This is nothing like dating a single guy.
Years before my blended family was “officially” formed, the revelation hit me on our first date. Mr. Right had invited me over for dinner, which I didn’t fully appreciate being a single girl at the time. Adding the responsibility of making a fancy meal to his already full plate as a single dad took a lot of energy. Our meal consisted of trying to get Little Boy to stay seated (he was 3 years old and full of energy) and trying to get to know each other in between. An hour later, Mr. Right’s mom stopped by to drop off Little Girl after a shared activity. Talk about a shock! How many people get to meet the whole family on the first date? I decided that must be a good sign.
Eight years later, getting time alone is still hard. Anyone with kids can relate to that.
As the season shifts and schedules fill up, don’t forget to enjoy some couple time, too. Fancy dinners not required – Just be together! Cozy up to these easy, frugal ideas:
End of the year project. Does the shed door need a coat of paint? Are weeds taking over your landscaping? While home projects might not sound like your idea of “date night,” working together can be a lot of fun with the right attitude. Use this time to talk, listen to your favorite music and flirt.
Make soup. Cooking together is a great bonding experience. Rely on each other’s strengths in the kitchen. For instance, Mr. Right handles the vegetable chopping while I keep the work area organized and clean. Try potato, pumpkin or squash soup and serve with a slice of wheat bread.
Walk through area nature trails. Take advantage of the trails while they’re still open. Hold hands. Take in the scents and sounds of fall.
Sip spiked hot cocoa. Use premixed packets or make hot cocoa from scratch (with enough leftover for the kids, too). For adults, add a little dark rum or butterscotch schnapps to taste. Serve with conversation.
Cuddle up in a blanket on the porch. Bonus! Chilly nights make the bugs disappear, so get out and enjoy nature with your sweetie.
Break in the flannel sheets. The first freezing night of the year is just around the corner. 😉
Share a bestselling book. Here’s a familiar scenario: When parents get a break from the kids, that’s what fills the evening discussion. Give each other something to talk about. Read a bestselling book at the same time or take turns reading aloud. For the latest bestsellers, click here.
Plan a vacation close to home. Try out a local bed and breakfast or that new modern hotel. Bonus if they have a hot tub or sauna to heat up the night.
Make apple pie. Then share a slice by candlelight when the kids go to bed.
Exchange a snuggly gift. Are your lover’s slippers threadbare? Does he need a robe or some new comfy pants? Give the gift of warmth and warm the heart at the same time.
Snuggle beside a bonfire. This is an intimate way to unplug and just be together. Crisp fall nights make a crackling fire so inviting. Bring your favorite snack to share.
Attend a high school sporting event. This is a great way to feel like young lovers again. The games are inexpensive, close to home and support the community. Walk to and from the game, hold hands, sit close on the bleachers.
Blended family or not, making time to be alone is always a challenge. But I know first hand that when parents make dating a priority, the kids take notice. Show them: This is what a good marriage looks like.
This is the fairytale that every little girl dreams of.

(Photo by Tela Chhe)

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