October 26, 2012

Romance On A Budget

by Christy Zutautas

We've all heard it, to keep the romance alive in your relationship go out on dates with your spouse. It sounds wonderful doesn't it? Sitting in a restaurant gazing into each others eyes, as you sip on fancy drinks.

But the reality is many people just can’t afford to hire a babysitter, and eating out isn't always in the budget.

Does that mean you should just give up? Stay home and watch television until the day your kids are finally old enough for you to leave for a few hours.

If you find it hard to get out, don’t be discouraged, there are many couples dealing with the same situation. If you're living on a tight budget, it’s time to get creative. It is essential to take time to nurture your relationship. It’s not where you go on a date, it’s the quality of time spent with your husband that is important.

A Night Out

If it’s at all possible, get out of the house together for a while. Go for a walk, a picnic, a coffee, any place where you can focus on each other for a while.

A change of scenery may add a bit of excitement, especially if you stay at home with the kids all day or do other work from your home.

But what if you don’t have the money for a babysitter and aren't lucky enough to have a family member who will sit for free. Don’t give up, here are some ideas to find a babysitter:
Finding A Babysitter On A Budget
  • Ask your neighbors and other parents if they’d like to trade babysitting. Perhaps there is a mom in your area who is in the same situation and would love to have a night off. You’ll be able to have a night out, and help someone else have a break as well.

  • Find a teenager to baby-sit, often times young teens will baby-sit for free or for very little so they can gain experience in babysitting.

  • Check your local church youth groups, children of neighbors, and kids who are participating in babysitters courses. Explain that you need a night out and don’t have the money to pay them but that you will give your name and phone number as a reference for their future babysitting jobs.

  • Okay so you've tried your hardest and you still can’t find a babysitter, don’t worry there is still hope. Here are six “date at home” ideas, that won’t break the bank.
1) The backyard date – If the weather is pleasant it can be a nice break to sit outside and talk. Put the kids to bed, if you have very young children then bring the baby monitor outside with you so you can hear if someone wakes up. Make your favorite drinks, a plate of snacks, light some candles, and relax. Create a special place for the two of you. My husband and I have a little café style table for two, where we like to sit together, we both find it very relaxing to get away from everything, even if it is just for a little while.

2) The dinner date – Have a separate dinner for you and your husband. Feed the kids early, make them something easy that they’ll enjoy. Explain to them that Mommy and Daddy are having a dinner date and would like to have some time alone together. Put their favorite movie on or give them an interesting project to work on.

Make your favorite foods, set a romantic table, and enjoy. I make up a dinner for two ahead of time, then heat it up in the oven while the kids are eating. A dinner alone together can be quite romantic, and you don’t need to be in a fancy restaurant. This is one of my favorite at home dates. The other day my husband and I got daring and tried a “breakfast date,” the kids love when we do this, and even set a beautiful table for us as a surprise.

3) Play a game – Pull out a board game or deck of cards and play a game. Lighten up and forget about everything else for a while, remember fun isn't just for kids.

4) Romantic bubble bath – Have a candlelight bath together. If there isn’t room enough for two in the tub then invite your husband to spend time with you while you relax in the bath. He most likely will be more than happy to join you. You could also heat things up with a nice steamy shower for two. Offer to wash his hair, or have him wash yours, you just may have a sensual experience that will bring the two of you closer together.

5) Plant a garden – This one was my husbands idea because he loves plants. Spend time together making a garden, or other household project. Time spent working on a common goal will give you a chance to learn more about one another. Break out of your usual daily routine, and get creative. Have fun working as a team, no matter what project you decide to take on. The flowers outside always remind me of my husband and our time spent working outside together.

6) The Ten Minute Date – No matter how busy life gets take ten minutes every day to give your spouse your undivided attention. Have a coffee or tea together. Make sure your time is spent talking about something other than bills and the kids.

Men And Romance

If your husband isn't on the romantic side, don’t worry, he’ll appreciate the fact that you want to spend time with only him. He may not be moved to tears by romantic music and candlelight but if it’s important to you than take the time to set the scene. For years my husband has told me that he doesn't understand my need for candles, the other night I walk into the room surprised to see him lighting candles. He was obviously enjoying the atmosphere, so ladies, with a bit of patience, you just never know what’s to come.

A Little Goes A Long Way

Remember that little things do matter. Keep the spark alive by looking into each others eyes while you're having a conversation, remember the eyes are the windows to the soul. Compliment your spouse on something every day. Start a gratitude journal, every morning writing down the things you appreciate about your partner, and your life.

Don’t Forget What’s Important

Life can be hectic, don’t get so caught up in your busy schedules that you forget what matters the most in life. Neglecting your relationship with your partner will only create more problems down the road. Take the time to make each other feel important. Once in a while it’s nice to feel the way you did when you were dating, like you are the only two people in the world, now that’s romantic.

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Christy Zutautas is a poet, freelance writer, and a mother of four living in Ontario, Canada.