I love my husband (something I’ve mentioned a few times!). Now that our kids are getting older, we’re finding it just a little easier to carve out time for regular date nights, and it’s been amazing! But so often, date night seems to coincide with a flare day for me. It can be so frustrating to want to spend meaningful time together, but find myself barely able to get off the couch or bed.
For those of us high on love, but low on energy, here are a few date ideas to inspire you.
1. Play the fantasy shopping game.
We like to play a little game from time to time. We actually started playing when we were first dating and getting to know one another. We would go to a department store and wander through the housewares, pointing out the things we would choose if we had an unlimited budget. We “shopped” for our dream furniture, dishes, linens, kitchen appliances–anything the store had to offer.
As we got to know one another better, we switched it up. Instead of choosing for ourselves in each department, we tried to pick the item the other person would choose. It was funny how often our choices overlapped! Or, funnier still, how often our tastes were miles apart!
We were out of town for the day recently for some testing and had a little time to kill before we had to head back home. My husband asked what I wanted to do and, on a whim, I told him I wanted to play our game. It had been years since we’d played. It was so much fun to “shop” pressure-free and connect with one another!
The beauty of this game is that it works both in-person and online. It can be played just as easily from the couch, perusing all the items available on a store’s website. Or browse Pinterest or Instagram for dream home and dream room ideas. Don’t like home design? You can play the game with just about anything: clothing, sports equipment, cars, menu items… You could even offer a prize for the person who guesses the most items correctly.
2. Read a book together.
I know, it seems a little weird to read to another adult, doesn’t it? But hear me out…
When I was pregnant with our first son, my husband wanted to introduce me to one of his favorite books, Danny, the Champion of the World, by Roald Dahl. Instead of just recommending the book and asking me what I thought of it as I read it alone, we decided to read it together. In the evenings while I sat working on things, or while I soaked my sore body in the bathtub, he read aloud to me. He read the final chapters in the hours while I labored in the hospital, awaiting our son’s arrival.
Now, years later, the seasons have definitely changed. But on bad days, I often find it difficult to hold a book, to focus my eyes, or sometimes just to find the time to sit and read a book, especially if it takes away from time we could be spending with one another! Reading a book aloud is a fun way to go back to younger days, to experience a story together, and to spend quality, low-energy time.
If your taste in books is wildly different, that’s OK too! We sometimes curl up on opposite ends of the couch with our legs overlapping and enjoy our own books in close proximity. We can share little observations or make comments here and there. And we’re together.
3. Take a tandem bike ride.
First, the elephant in the room: this idea is not completely energy-free. But it does require less energy than a traditional bike ride, or even a walk.
When I first became sick, I was devastated at the idea of giving up bike rides, one of my favorite hobbies. My husband brought home a picture of a tandem bike with the words, Where You Go, I’ll Go. It became the symbol of how we wanted to live out my illness together. Eventually, we did buy a tandem bike. And we’ve enjoyed many, many hours together on it!
The pedals on our tandem (and most) are linked, so that when one person pedals, the other person’s feet move as well. That being said, I find I can just let my feet rest on the pedals without making much effort. If I’m really struggling, I’ve even rested my feet on the bike frame without being on the pedals, although balancing like that can be a little tricky. There may be bikes that don’t have linked pedals, so that it’s possible to just coast while the other person does the bulk of the work.
Being on the back of the tandem means I don’t have to steer, do much of the balancing, pedal hard, or support my own weight (as I would when I’m walking). It’s made it possible for me to exercise on days when I wouldn’t otherwise have been capable of doing anything. We’ve even packed a picnic in the basket on the front of our bike, and enjoyed a leisurely ride to the park to enjoy our dinner!
4. Order in.
The classic date night involves a fancy dinner at a restaurant somewhere. But let’s be real: that often means reserving a table, securing (and paying!) a babysitter, getting dressed up, driving to the place, parking, walking in…. Are you exhausted yet? On flare days, it’s just not something I can manage. But having dinner prepared in a restaurant is a treat, and saves me the work of cooking. The alternative? Order in!
If you have young kids, get them settled in bed for the night, and enjoy a quiet dinner by yourselves (no need to pay a sitter!). If your kids are older, don’t hesitate to bribe them with a movie night, or send them upstairs while you have the main floor to yourselves. If you have the energy, you can dress up. But dinner in can be enjoyed just as well in your lounge clothes. If you want to make the night extra fancy, light some candles, play some soft music, and open a bottle of your favorite drink to go with your food.
5. Play a board game.
We have friends who absolutely love board games. To be honest, they’re not always my favorite way to pass the time. But some games are just fun with the two of us. Code Names, Scattergories, Scrabble, and many others are sometimes more fun with just two people–especially if you make up your own rules or share inside jokes.
If you don’t have board games at home, or you want to try something new, check out your local library. Many libraries have board games available for check-out, and they’re a great way to try a new game without the financial investment!
If board games really aren’t your thing, try doing a puzzle together (you might be able to find these at a library too, or check with friends and family to see if you can borrow one).
6. Take a trip down memory lane.
If you’ve been together for a while, chances are you have some old photos or videos that you haven’t looked at for a long time. So spend a night traveling down memory lane together.
If you have photo albums, dust them off and enjoy flipping through the pages. If all of your pictures are online or stored on a device, find a way to connect them to your TV, cast them, or project them onto a wall. You can re-watch old home videos, or watch your wedding video.
I’m a sporadic journal-writer. Some seasons have been more prolific than others, like the years we were dating and first married. From time to time, we like to pull out my old journals and relive the memories recorded there. We seem like different people sometimes, but it’s fun to see how far we’ve come and who we’ve grown into, together, in the intervening years!
7. Watch a movie on the ceiling.
Want the ultimate, romantic, low-energy way to spend an evening? Watch a movie on the ceiling!
Gather a collection of cozy blankets and pillows on the open floor (or on your bed). Close the blinds and dim the lights (bonus points if you light candles around the room), and use a projector to cast a movie onto your ceiling. You can enjoy cuddling up together while you watch, and you won’t need to expend an ounce of energy–even to sit up!
8. Go star-gazing.
Sure, it’s a little cliché. But when was the last time you really noticed the sky? There’s something majestic and romantic about it!
Of course, if you live in the city like we do, you may have to do some work to find some stars. The best way is to get away from the light pollution, so hop in the car and take a scenic drive to a quiet countryside spot. You can park on a hilltop, or at a crossroads in the middle of open fields. Pull out some lawn chairs, open a sun roof, or have a seat on the hood of the car. And then look up. If you haven’t been away from the city lights for a while, you might find that the sight takes your breath away!
Your turn: what are your favorite, low-energy ways to spend time together? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments!