I guess we could use a sitter app to find sitters in random cities and nearby towns to our campground. But there’s something about leaving a stranger with your kids IN A HOUSE THAT CAN DRIVE AWAY that just doesn’t feel right, so we haven’t done it.
To be honest, we didn’t really have a good system for our first year or so on the road to take time to connect with each other. We had conversations all the time about the logistics of our trip or parenting issues or what we needed to do today to be ready for what part we might need to replace on the RV (believe me, a lot of conversations about what we needed to fix on the RV). But we didn’t carve out a routine time to connect or play or laugh without our kids front and center.
So, we’ve started a weekly ritual of date night in the RV.
First, we scheduled it on our shared google calendar. Every Thursday night, starting at 5.
Next, we bought fancy 99 cent plastic goblets at a grocery store in Chester, CA (near Lassen Volcanic National Park). We only use these goblets on date night.
On Wednesdays we stock up on groceries, so we started adding ‘date night wine’ to the weekly grocery list.
On Wednesdays we also take a trip to the nearest public library. While there, I let the kids look on Amazon Video for any shows or movies they want to watch and we use the free (and fast) wifi to download them. We also make sure the iPad is charged at the library if we don’t have electricity that week.
On Thursday, the kids know that when Daddy closes his computer (signifying the end of his work day), it’s Date Night! They pile into the back bedroom and get their screen fix.
It might just be my kids, but when a screen is on, they are UNABLE to tear their eyes away. They lose their ability to hear things. They don’t move. I guess that’s one benefit/side effect of not having screens for most of their early childhood. Even if they don’t like what they are watching, they still sit and watch.
Most of the time I get a little hot and bothered about this. But not on date night.
Joe and I spend a leisurely happy hour talking, opening a glass of wine, and eventually cooking dinner together.
When dinner is ready, we pause the movie and eat dinner with the kids. Then the kids race to pick up and get ready for bed because they get to watch yet another show/move in their jammies.
Joe and I have gone outside to enjoy a short walk in Napa Valley. We’ve enjoyed a quiet, dark camp fire. We’ve talked logistics. We’ve dreamed of future small businesses. We laugh. We play card games.
Basically, we give ourselves a break from being with our kids 24/7.
If it wasn’t on the calendar, we probably wouldn’t do it. We haven’t done it consistently the past few weeks with holidays and travel and catching up with friends when they are available.
But when we’re on the road, Date Night is on.