Sometimes we go to Halls, but usually, we don’t.
Most recently we browsed art museums downtown. All were free. I’ll give you our itinerary later in this article.
Monthly date nights are a must-do for my husband and me. They help bring us back to us and our relationship outside of being parents. We have hobbies and interests that are easily put on the back burner behind kids’ schedules, our careers, and keeping up with a home. But we are people outside of our children. We were friends and partners before our children, and we want to continue to be.
We argue less when we have these date nights. We laugh and we re-connect. We would have them more than once a month if we could, but our busy schedule does not usually allow that. We are lucky to have family in Charleston that will regularly watch our two children, but we also hire babysitters when it’s more convenient.
I’m here to tell you that it is good and healthy to take this time.
Not only do parents need an outlet and a healthy stress release outside of children but our children need time away from us to learn how to be independent. It’s so beneficial for them to spend time with extended family or even to play with an energetic babysitter in the neighborhood. I am better able to care for my children with more love when I am taking care of myself and my marriage.
You aren’t selfish for wanting to enjoy your marriage.
But babysitters are expensive if you don’t have family available right? Yes, they are. Easily $65-$90 for a night out. And then there’s the cost of the actual date. It’s not always feasible or even practical for a middle-class family, I get that.
For us, it’s necessary. For us, it creates a bond and better communication. It provides much-needed uninterrupted talking time. It helps to create a more peaceful home life for our children.
When we weren’t paying for date nights, we were paying for couples’ counseling. We were paying to have a quiet space where we could talk about our weaknesses and strengths in front of a stranger and sort out our week.
We went twice a month for a year and learned so many valuable things about life and each other.
We ultimately agreed that we were going to start making monthly date night a priority. For us, both counseling and dates had the same ultimate purpose and date nights are undeniably more fun.
We started dating each other again.
We’ve played Bingo at a bingo hall, had picnics at Hampton Park, and walked around the Pitt Street Bridge and Park. We’ve had dates at home after the kids go to bed-baking and eating brownies from a box and watching a movie on Netflix.
We’ve gone to a speakeasy, and we’ve gone to an arcade and played Hot Shot and Air Hockey. We’ve sat in a sauna together and attended a “Succulent & Sangria” workshop creating our own plant terrariums to take home.
We try new restaurants and sit outside on the patios when the weather allows. Some of our usual spots are Frothy Beard in West Ashley, Royal Tern on Johns Island, The Icehouse in Summerville, and Tavern and Table on Shem Creek. We often end up at our tried-and-true beloved restaurant Dashi.
I like to plan (ok, I love to plan). I plan all our date nights. Does anyone else read over the entire menu and check out the parking situation before they go somewhere new or is that just me?
My husband usually does whatever I want, there are very few (two that I can think of) activities that he has said no to in ten years together. And if he has ideas, we do those too. I’ve been to a crowded NFL game with him in Atlanta when I was very pregnant and a hard rock festival eight weeks postpartum (pumping in medical tents every few hours, but that’s a story for another time).
Our most recent date was inspired by the article “10 Amazing Art Galleries in Charleston You Need to Visit” that I stumbled upon.
Here was our itinerary:
- City Gallery on Prioleau. This gallery opens to the world-famous Pineapple Fountain at Waterfront Park. Timed tickets were required in advance but were free. We parked at a meter (meters are free downtown after 6 pm and on Sundays).
- We walked two blocks over to The Vendue-Charleston’s Art Hotel. They have several different exhibits and gallery rooms to explore at 26 Vendue, across the street from 19 Vendue which features their popular rooftop bar. You can even watch the Artist in Residence create his next masterpiece here.
- We then drove to the College of Charleston campus to the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art. This gallery is colorful and full of life. The current exhibit (through Dec. 11, 2021) is Namsa Leuba’s Crossed Looks. The video cavern experience here is interesting and unique. The Halsey is within walking distance to Marion Square- a great place to relax, picnic, visit the Charleston Farmer’s Market, or just people-watch.
- The final order of business was to drive into James Island and grab some sweets from LB Sweets and Treats. We bought a fall-themed sugar cookie, a milk chocolate truffle, and a chocolate chip cookie sandwich with butter crème icing for less than $7.
Date nights/days can be easy and simple. They can even be free. They can be at home. If you’re connecting to your spouse, and to yourself, you’re doing it right.