I have made very few food resolutions for the coming year. I’m not dieting, nor do I have any plans to drastically change my family’s eating habits, mostly because I think we’re doing okay right now. Sure, we could always eat just that much healthier, but the reality is that I’m happy with the food that makes it onto our table each week, and my real goal is just to keep our family dinners and Sunday suppers intact amidst busy schedules and growing children.
However, the one area I do want to place some extra focus on in 2015 is our date nights at home, an almost weekly ritual Rob and I have put into practice for nearly fifteen years. Date-night dinners began about a decade and a half ago; Rob and I set-out to “keep the romance alive” amid the happy chaos that accompanied new parenthood and two baby boys born just twenty months apart. I’m not exactly sure who came up with the idea, but we decided early on that it might be nice to have an adults-only dinner once a week. No kids, no phones, no computers – no interruptions. There were exceptions of course, and the guidelines have changed over the years, but I’m so happy that our weekly at-home date is still going strong.
In fact, I feel so passionately about the topic that I included a small chapter on this essential get-together in Gatherings. I truly believe that a gathering is no less significant if there are only two people at the table instead of ten, and I’m certain that this intimate event will be some of the best “gathering” I do in my lifetime. If I can encourage even just one couple to add a weekly at-home date night to their calendar, I think their family will benefit in so many ways.
It's possible to think that because my kids are older it’s easy to keep these date nights going strong, but the harsh reality is exactly the opposite: the older the kids are, the less free time in the evening we have have. Sure, they can and often prefer to occupy themselves, but there are also carpools, sports, music lessons, and homework to compete for any extra free time that's available. The kids stay up later than they ever have, and are often looking for food and snacks just as we might be thinking about winding down for the night, so while free time is anything but plentiful, we’ve built a habit of enjoying a weeknight date alone at home, and now our kids respect - and encourage - the time as well. And secretly I’m hoping they’ll be so used to the idea of it, they’ll implement it into their own relationships some day.
The challenge we’ll face this year, is keeping it going with two teens a new baby in the house, which is why it’s moved to the top of my priority list. Our time will need to be divided a little differently in the coming year, and we’re both making some changes to accommodate for that, but I’m hopeful that date-nights at home will continue for the next fifteen years, as we see our third child through to the teen years. After all, those who eat together stay together. I totally made that up, but after almost seventeen years of experience I stand by what I’m saying.
So, who's up for a date night at home revolution in 2015? Do any of you put this idea into practice in your own family already? You can expect more posts on the topic in the coming year, as we figure out how to keep the romance alive with a three boys – a baby and two growing teens - in the house.