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August 12, 2008

We're Date Night Flunkies

Date_night When I was pregnant, I was terrified that my husband and I would lose our connection after the baby was born.  I vowed to do everything in my power to get out as a couple for "date nights."  We wouldn't become those people who had no life outside of our child.  We wouldn't be those annoying people who didn't trust anybody to watch our precious child.

You can probably see where this is going.  We became those people. 

I make a lot of excuses for why my husband and I never leave our son with a sitter.  I realize every single stumbling block to having a babysitter is something I can easily overcome, and that every single excuse has a perfectly valid counter-argument.  But I also wonder if we're all that different from other new parents. 

First of all, there's the issue of where to find a babysitter.  We don't have family in the area, which seems to be the babysitting arrangement utilized by most new parents.  We do trade babysitting favors with others, but, let's face it, those have to be saved to cash in when you really have to go somewhere, like a doctor's appointment.  And I don't really know any teenagers who would just be a logical babysitting match.  Anybody I did find would require a lengthy trial period in which I stayed home and did household chores while the babysitter played with my kid and I supervised from afar.  That seems like a bit of a hassle, and an awkward interpersonal situation that I just can't quite conquer (probably because I hated being on the other side of this trial period when I was a babysitter). 

Which brings me to the issue of hassle in general.  At first I was breastfeeding, and while I did have the pump, I never had much extra milk stored up.  No outing ever seemed worth giving up that precious extra supply, not to mention extra sleep.  Now that my son is weaned, you would think I would have a lot more freedom, and I do.  But I get hung up on stupid hassles.  My son falls asleep more easily if I give him a bath, and I don't trust any random teenager to do that.  People tell me that we should go out after my son goes to bed, but after the stress of dinner and the bedtime routine, I honestly don't always feel like leaving the house again.  It's hard to cram in dinner and a movie and get home before my requisite bedtime of 10:30.  (Yes, I know, I'm weird like that, but I need my sleep.) 

Plus, there's the money issue.  We are lucky enough not to be struggling financially, but to me it just doesn't seem worth it to fork over a lot of money to pay a teenager to sit in my house and watch my TV and eat my food after my son goes to bed.  I mean, I would have to really want to see a particular movie, or really have somewhere I had to go, in order to pay somebody for that.  And of course, that's on top of all the money we'd be spending on whatever form of entertainment we would deem worth the cost and hassle of having a babysitter.  We could always do something cheap or free, but in some weird way, that seems like an even more ridiculous situation in which to pay a babysitter.  Isn't it easier to just stay home, eat take-out, and watch a DVD after my son goes to bed?

I think my husband and I do try to spend time together in non-date contexts.  We sit outside in the yard together or play a video game.  But all this dating outside the home stuff just doesn't seem worth it. 

Since she isn't going out on many dates, Shannon uses her free time to blog at Boringtown's Closed.  This is an original Chicago Moms Blog post. 

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