“Don’t worry, Mom, I’m an expert.” I think this must be one of my elementary kids’ favorite phrases to say. Said with their toothless grins and boyish gusto, I often laugh at their daring scooter tricks or air defying ninja moves.

And I, my friends, while not an expert, have some fun tips for date nights at home. You see, long before talk of quarantine or a virus or social distancing, my husband and I committed to dating each other inside the four walls of our own home.  

As with most major life decisions, a story lies behind it.

For 10 of our first 11 years of marriage, we lived states away from family, were on a single income, and had eash of our four children two years apart. (Crazy, I know. But we knew we were on the path God called us to, and we wouldn’t trade it, or them, for the world.) And although we would occasionally depend on the gracious generosity of responsible high school girls from our youth group or trusted moms from our church, dropping the kids off at grandmas for the evening was never really an option. So we invented our own options. As a couple, we discovered new, fun and exciting ways to keep each other first in our marriage and date each other no matter the circumstances.

Those simple, home-bound nights when I pushed aside the pile of unfolded laundry or walked away from a sink full of dirty dishes to date my husband, I wouldn’t trade for the world of movie screens or fancy restaurants. Even now, my favorite date nights continue to be the ones we invent together in our kitchen and living room after our kids are in bed for the night. 

For such a time as this, all hope is not lost in the world of romancing your love.

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You can still date your spouse in your living room. 

And you can still create memories together that rival being at the most scenic dating spots.  

Try out one of these tips, or create your own, and watch your love life with your spouse continue to grow and flourish. You can still love each other well. 

1. Be intentional. 

Like any great date, this takes planning and effort. But there are no rules. Your creative ideas are the only limit. Sometimes our date night in we’ll plan together the week or even the day before. Sometimes it’s a surprise for one of us. But intentionality takes it from a great thought to a great date. Whatever you decide to do or space you create for the night, make it intentional. Intentionality creates a great dating atmosphere. 

2. Wait until the kids are in bed for the night (and make it easy on yourself to get them there). 

Can I just say, I’m a huge fan of chicken nuggets, boxed mac and cheese, and paper plates? Every date night in, my kids get to eat this for dinner, and they love it. And I love it because it’s easy preparation and cleanup. Easy equals on-time bedtimes. Easy equals calm bedtimes. Easy equals intentional, loving time to tuck the kids in without making them feel pushed aside for something better. Make it easy. It will set the mood for the rest of your date night.

3. Learn something new together.  

In our house, this looks a lot like cooking new meals. I love to cook. My husband loves to eat. It really is a match made in heaven. For many of our date nights in, we have taught ourselves how to make homemade pesto for shrimp fettuccine, tikka masala to go with our favorite naan bread or mushroom risotto to pair with steaks. Cooking a new recipe is fun, relaxing and something we discovered we love learning together.  And we would have never known we loved this about each other unless we started date nights at home.

4. Don’t set expectations. 

Sometimes we eat by candlelight all dressed up with grandma’s fine china. Sometimes we sack out on the couch and watch a movie in our PJs. Sometimes we have deep and meaningful conversations. Sometimes we just have fun laughing while playing cards or a game. Sometimes we collapse in bed after tucking in the kids and end up falling asleep in the silence. If your only expectation is to spend meaningful time together, each date night in could look and feel completely different and yet still be a night that is good for your hearts and marriage. Don’t let the tyranny of expectations ruin the opportunity for a great date in your living room.

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Whatever you decide to do for your date, I wish you and your spouse a fun-filled night full of love and laughter. May you take the time to push aside the laundry and walk away from the dirty dishes and love your spouse well while you are at home.

Beth Sickel

Beth Sickel is a God-seeking pastor's wife and mama to her four favorite little people. She loves coffee, cooking, and all things outdoors. Beth blogs and speaks about creating space for Jesus—conversations to burst in wonder in your hearts and homes.