Date nights. Once you have kids, they are never quite the same. So where does one go for kid-friendly date night ideas? Well, you can start right here.
Before my husband and I got married, we were COMMITTED to our weekly date nights. We tried new restaurants, went to fun events, participated in obligatory youthful beer crawls.
After finding out we were pregnant with our son about nine weeks after tying the knot, we made a pact that our date nights would remain intact, no matter what.
Well, as all parents know, diapers, late night feedings, long shifts at work, and well LIFE seems to creep in and steal that once coveted time alone.
When we lived in our hometown in CA, we had an endless supply of babysitters in the form of grandmas, aunties, and my volleyball players, so even when life got busy, we were able to steal time away.
Having relocated to Reno last year with only one relative in the area, our date nights have had to adjust to a party of five instead of two.
Kid-friendly date night ideas
The key to these suggestions is one thing. You have to be flexible. Some might not even consider dates with kids in tow a true date, but if you can learn to let go a little and just go with whatever comes, your date may be more enjoyable.
Ryan and I have learned to embrace our time out with our kids and the more we do them, the more our kids have adapted to being a little less clingy and a little more chill on these shared date nights.
Sometimes, just finding a place where our kids are occupied and we get to sit and have an adult conversation is more than enough to fuel our souls for a bit. It’s all about using the time we have together wisely and cherishing the chaos, as long as we’re together.
Try outdoor activities
My kids are wild. There is no way around that. They are not the, sit in a fancy restaurant with their hands folded neatly in their laps, kind of kids.
But it’s what I love most about them. They love to run wild and free. What better place to have a date than in the open of the outdoors.
We love to load the kids into wagons or on bikes while Ryan and I walk the path behind our house down to the park. Once there, we let them run wild and free while we play dominoes on the picnic bench.
Side note: we may or may not have been known to take a small “road soda” with us for the walk to sip on while the kids ride ahead of us.
Last Christmas we took the kids to cut down their own Christmas tree. The best part was that the kiddos ran wild through the forest while we hung back and chatted about our Christmas list and plans for what we were getting each kid.
As long as they were within sight, they were much more interested in jumping over logs and screaming when they found the perfect tree to care what we were doing.
In the summer, let your kids build a fort, make homemade popcorn, grab some dollar store boxes of candy, turn down all the lights and let them watch a movie they love.
Then sneak into the other room or upstairs and watch a movie of your own. Yes, they may find their way to you, but I have found that the right combo of sugar and a million blankets keep them nestled a little longer.
Coffee and Cake Pops
Being a fire family means using the most of the time we have together. Sometimes this means purchasing a nitro cold brew, a few cake pops, bringing along the kindle fires, and finding a table outside at Starbucks.
The Kindles don’t occupy their attention for long, but the conversation that happens over a grande cup of coffee is enough to simply reconnect after a long shift at the fire station.
Kid-friendly date night ideas local to Nevada
Ryan and I have found a few places locally that we frequent when a date is needed and the kids need to come along.
Located in Sparks, think of this place as a giant arcade for all ages.
When we go, the teen in our family takes a friend to bowl and play miniature golf and the littles get wristbands for Ballocity, a mega-sized maze of a jungle gym that occupies their attention for hours.
Meanwhile, Ryan and I order onion rings and nachos and laugh about the events of the week or just enjoy the company of uninterrupted conversation.
Lake Tahoe is one of our favorite places for dates in the summer.
Kings Beach has a playground that our kids love and so we pack up the car with coolers stuffed with snacks, beach towels, and comfy chairs. While our kids play in the sand or on the playground, we throw a frisbee or play volleyball alongside them.
Located in downtown Reno is an outdoor bar that boasts a myriad of lawn games like giant Jenga and connect 4, bocce ball and cornhole, and oversize adult swings that hang from the ceiling.
The outdoor games are surrounded by converted shipping containers where you can grab local craft brews or a cocktail. The best part? Kids are allowed during the day. I know, I know…kids in a bar? But it is very common to find toddlers in strollers or kids tossing bean bags while parents hang out and relax.
I would recommend going earlier in the day and on a weekday if possible, as it becomes more crowded as the sun goes down and the weather gets warmer. But even then, you’ll still find kids laughing as they spin in the hammock swings or when their Jenga blocks topple over.
It goes without saying that when we venture out to the Eddy, we have a game of rock-paper-scissors for who gets to have a craft beer and who gets to drive.
Sundays are locals day at this particular mountain. Ryan and I made a few trips up and enrolled the kids in ski school so we could have a few hours together on the slopes.
If your budget is tight, look for ski school packages that include rental gear for the kids. While they are skiing, forego your own lift tickets and bring a few card games to the lodge. Take in the gorgeous views over a packed lunch.
Extra tips and tricks
There are a few things we do each time we venture out on a kid-friendly date. The most important of which is to come prepared.
I always keep a bag of tricks in my car that comes in handy on date days that includes items like a stockpile of non-perishable snacks, games, a deck of cards, books, and a few toys.
Sometimes a bag of goldfish or a game of Guess Who buys us an extra 20-30 minutes of date day bliss. Like I said, try to make the most of your time together.
Shoot for daytime activities
There’s something about bedtime, baths, dinner, and the possibility of missed naps that make nighttime dates a little trickier. We try to plan our outings around nap times and have found that early or late afternoon works best for us.
Invite other couples with kids
Having playmates is by far the best way to occupy our kids. They will always choose playmates over distractions in the form of technology any day. Heading out with other couples who have kids similar in age allows for twice the play and twice the conversation.
Bring a babysitter
If you’re worried about leaving the kids home with a sitter, find a high school kid, older cousin, or even a family member to join on your date to help. Having an extra set of eyes on your kids gives you and your significant other a little room to relax.
My teen jumps at the opportunity to earn some extra cash, even if it means a little extra time with her younger siblings.
Learn to change up the definition of a “date”
For us, it doesn’t always have to be candlelight and fancy dinners. Our love language is conversation and time together. So we have learned to appreciate it when we get to fit it in, even if our kids are in tow.
Megan Rix is a former at-risk high school English teacher turned stay at home mama, lifestyle blogger, and entrepreneur. After leaving the classroom to focus on being a mama, she needed a place to document the life of her very strong-willed child and what she realized along the way were all the things in her life that “anchored” her. A love for food, beauty, family, and giving back to others helped shape the blog as it looks today.