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Family Date Night Ideas with a Baby (or Toddler)

Married with really young kids (babies and toddlers)? Learn some awesome date night ideas with a baby or toddler.

Date nights at home for married couples is all the rage right now.

But if you've got a baby or a toddler? Then your date nights – whether at home or out on the town – look quite different than couples with older kids.

So I thought I'd blow open this topic by talking about date night ideas for couples with babies and toddlers that we've used in our own household.

It might help for me to first tell you a few things about us:

  1. My husband and I are both introverts.
  2. We're madly in love.
  3. We have a 15-month old.
  4. We don't spend money on a regular babysitter.

Because of all this, we don't just have “date night”.

At least not the traditional sense where you get semi-dressed up and go out.

Instead, we've come up with a system of several different types of family date nights as well as couple date nights while our baby is sleeping in the other room.

Three types of date nights in our home:

  • Couple Date Nights (for parents of babies and toddlers – I've got some very unique ideas!)
  • Family Date Nights
  • Self Date Nights (what parent doesn't need a little time to themselves?)

And guess what? Each type of these family date night ideas is important for both the three of us and for our relationship.

In fact, I daresay our household wouldn't function without even one of these.

Couple Date Night Ideas with a Toddler (or Baby)

Date nights where it's just the two of us?

Have seriously had to be reinvented in our household.

Because let's face it: couple time sans baby or a toddler is kinda rare in this season of life.

Plus, if we were to get a babysitter and go out for the ol' movies + date night every week, it would take a mega-shark-sized bite out of our savings.

Think about it: a movie is $20 ($30-$40 if you get food, which you might because you didn't have time to scarf down dinner before running out the door), and then you'll need to pay $20-$40 for the babysitter. That's up to $80 for one night out!

If you've ever wondered what to do on Friday night with a baby or a toddler, then keep reading.

Cheap things to do as a couple with a baby (& date night ideas with toddlers):

1. Couple's Workout with Built-in Babysitting

We already have a membership to our local JCC (it's a community center with a gym, cafe, locker rooms, film festivals, and more).

They offer 90 minutes worth of babysitting a day (at $91/month, talk about cheap daycare!). So once a week or so we meet up after work, drop the little guy off to babysitting, and get 90 minutes of toddler-free workout time together.

In our world, that's a “date”!

2. Church Date Nights with Super-Cheap Babysitting

Our church does this super cool thing where they open up their babysitters (the same awesome people who watch our little guy during Sunday's church sermons so that we can actually pay attention) so that Mommy and Daddy can go out on a date!

All for just $3/kid.

The last one we went on? Was to a nearby Escape Room! Talk about engaging and fun.

3. Pillow Talk Time in Bed

After Conner goes to sleep and we finish dinner, it's usually just 8 or so at night.

Sometimes we skip trying to squeeze in a show and just hang out in our bed talking and laughing and whatever else…it's a time for just us, and it's become super important in keeping our couple-dom going.

Here's some free couple's conversation starters we've used:

4. Drop the Kiddo Off to His Grandparents + Catch a Matinee

We're lucky in that Paul's parents, while 45 minutes away, are super happy to watch him from time to time. So we can drop him off and catch an early movie just the two of us (bonus: movies in the early afternoon are cheaper!).

Bonus #2 is Conner gets to develop a relationship with his Mee-Maw and Pee-Paw.

5. Play a Round of Couple-Opoly

Sometimes, we like to stay up and do something together. My gals over at The Dating Divas came up with this super cool Couple-Opoly (free printables) that let's us play a very personalized game while honoring our couple history.

Talk about setting up something special for your someone special!

Psst: I've got loads of other creative date ideas to rekindle a marriage.

Family Date Night Ideas with a Baby

Ever since the little guy came along, it's been important for the three of us to reestablish what “family” means.

I mean, it used to just be us + the kitty cats. Now, there's a whole other human!

So we like to have family dates to bond and get out of our normal routine.

Inexpensive family date night ideas include:

1. Daddy Work Lunches

Have you ever considered meeting up with each other for lunch in the middle of a work week?

We hadn't, until we had our little guy. I found a Mom's support and social group that meets up right next door to where my husband works. Plus, since I was going to the support group, my parking was validated.

I'd go there once a week with my little one, then head on over to a gourmet cafeteria for a Daddy Work Lunch. All for under $20.

2. Game of Thrones Walks

This is what my husband came up with, and I'm a super fan.

Basically in the evening we take the little guy out and walk down these beautifully landscaped alleyways near our home where we strategize how to take over the kingdom talk about anything.

Psst: you might also want to check out these cheap picnic date ideas.

3. Meet Up in the Museum District

Paul works right next to the zoo now, and on the first Tuesday of the month (except summer months) from 2:00-6:00 p.m. it's free here in Houston.

So, we've met up 3-4 times to check out the new gorillas, catch up with the meerkats, gaze at the jellyfish, and get in some exercise.

We also met up over the holidays to see the Christmas trees in the hobby of the Houston Museum of Natural Science (you don't need a ticket to get into the hobby, and they always have organizations decorate around 10 trees in really unique ways). I brought some egg nog and homemade cookies I baked that day!

4. Strawberry Picking

We used to hit up Froberg's market as a couple, so now we go there as a family. Once a year we grab our buckets and go strawberry picking together!

Then when we come home, Paul watches the little guy while I bake us some strawberry shortcake. Mmmmm.

5. Pokémon Go Hunts

I heard about Pokémon Go, of all places, on NPR. So decided we should give it a try…as a family (hey, date night ideas for married couples need not be boring!).

We haven't yet, but I'm super excited to buckle the little one into his stroller, and go on long hunts along our bayou.

Psst: check out all these date night ideas!

Self Dates for Parents with Young Kids

I know, I know; this is supposed to be an article about date night ideas for married couples. Bear with me here.

Remember how I mentioned we are both introverts?

I wasn't just rambling. This has importance.

Both of us need time for ourselves. Time to refresh. Time to grow. Time to chill.

Cheap ideas for parent self dates:

1. Workout Time

It is so refreshing to be able to drop Conner off to be watched for 90 minutes at our JCC and just workout by myself.

Doesn't happen often (because I usually use the free 90 minutes per day to work in their cafe), but when it does, it's awesome.

2. Go for a Hike

I'm an explorer. One thing I've missed and have recently reincorporated into my life is going for a hike on my own.

Yes, yes, I still take Conner with me.

But he's mesmerized by the great outdoors in our jogging stroller and so it feels like I'm getting a solo hike (or as much as I can with a baby!).

3. Read at a Coffee Shop

Both Paul and I enjoy hanging out at coffee shops. Normally it's to do school work (he was in college full-time for three years and just graduated! Go, Paul!) and for me to work on my biz.

But sometimes? It's just great to read and decompress.

4. Taking a Long, Hot Shower

Anyone who laughs at this has never had a newborn:). Sometimes, taking a long, hot shower is all the alone time you get. And I soak up every second of it!

5. Do a Yoga Session while Baby Naps

At the start of this year, my friend invited me on a 30-day Yoga Challenge with Adriene (free on Youtube).

Not only did I miraculously do something I've never managed to do without a baby — actually do a yoga session for 30 days in a row — but I've kept it up and have only missed around 20 days of Yoga this entire year!

Tune into one of Adriene's yoga videos for free. What an amazing way to decompress (though Conner is not always cooperative, so warning for you, Mama Bear).

Bonus Date Type #4: Money Dates

How could I not talk about Money Dates? It is crucial for the Maverick money manager in the family to meet up with other family members weekly or at least once a month to talk about finances.

You need to discuss things like: changes in spending habits that affect the overall budget, ideas/hopes/dreams that need funding, investments and whether or not to move them, etc.

How to add some spice to your money dates? Tack something fun onto the end of them. Money date night ideas for married couples can include things like:

  1. Spoil-Your-Spouse Night (free printables): Take turns on this one.
  2. Babysitter in a Bag: These free printables will help keep the kiddos entertained while you're talking money.
  3. Ghostbusters Date Night: Did I mention I'm a huge fan of the original Ghostbusters? So for us, it'd be super fun for my spouse to set this free date night up (*ahem*).

What kinds of date night ideas for married couples do you have to share with us below?

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Amanda L. Grossman is a writer and Certified Financial Education Instructor, Plutus Foundation Grant Recipient, and founder of Frugal Confessions. Over the last 13 years, her money work has helped people with how to save money and how to manage money. She's been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger, Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report, Business Insider, LifeHacker, Real Simple Magazine, Woman's World, Woman's Day, ABC 13 Houston, Keybank, and more. Read more here.

Rene JS

Saturday 19th of May 2018

Ha, I thoroughly enjoyed reading your article, Amanda. As a mother of two and with a husband who travels, it's pretty rare that we have dinners together. So something that I recently did was to have food at home whenever he comes. The only request I make of them is to show up because family time matters. And on the way, I also save a lot because going out is not cheap these days.


Wednesday 15th of February 2017

I have never thought of having family or self dates before. What a great idea! Thanks for sharing this perspective!

Amanda L Grossman

Wednesday 15th of February 2017

You are most welcome!

Jack @ Enwealthen

Tuesday 14th of February 2017

With 2 boys at 2.5y and 10m, I can completely relate. Couple-only time and alone time is very rare.

Our go-to family date is the local kid's museum. Kids love it, and part of our avoiding entitled kids via too many gifts from the relatives is that our parents give us a family membership there each year. Win-win-win.

Amanda L Grossman

Wednesday 15th of February 2017

Oh my, I'm sure you double-get it, Jack:). Thanks for sharing what you guys do as family dates! That's a great idea to get memberships as gifts instead of more plastic.