You have a lot going on. Children. Business. Travel. Fatigue. Chronic illness. Pain. Whatever your problem du jour, it can feel like it’s taking over your whole life. Having fun, creating memories and strengthening relationships can easily fall by the wayside, and yet, nourishing these essential aspects of life enrich it beyond measure.
Date night fits the bill. Be it with your spouse, your friend, loved ones or your spectacular self, making space for good ol’ fashioned quality time together – even when your energy is low, or your health is suffering – is important, necessary. Unfortunately, it rarely makes room for itself. It’s up to you to create that time. To carve it out, wiggle in a space for it and then defend against all comers and crises.
My husband, Linus and I have our weekly date night on Saturday. It allows us to connect not as business partners, housemates, friends, or members on the same Healing Team, but as a couple. We’ve learned that when illness, disability or lack of energy require us to have date night at home, or venues that are flexible, accessible and receptive to young children or furries, creativity is key.
Looking for a place to begin? Here’s my list of top date night ideas:
Drawing room picnic
Pack a picnic basket and head out into the wilds – or the next room – of your home. We use a special, green blanket for our picnics – it’s perfect to lay out anywhere. Have a seat, look at nature books, imagine an exotic place or enjoy your favourite picnic foods from your childhood. Crust-free, triangular sandwiches and pink lemonade, anyone?
Midnight feast or 7 pm brunch
Change things up! Topsy-turvieness every so often can be a great way to add some spice. Have a feast at midnight (think raiding the tuck box). If a midnight feast isn’t feasible, do brunch for dinner; a long, leisurely meal in your pyjamas? Talk about energy conservation and luxury!
If showering/washing is an effort, transform the task into a spa day. Have your beloved wash your hair, and imagine yourself under a waterfall. For years, we have lived in a house with no shower. The only way to wash my waist length hair is for Linus to pour jugs of water over it for me. We’ve made it a romantic ritual, one that is pleasing for us both. Mani/pedi, massages, and homemade lotions and potions all add to the ambience.
They may have a reputation for boring, but they’ve got the potential to be fun fun fun! Give a new board game a try – you might be surprised! Linus and I first began playing chess as I battled pain, in a hot bath, for days on end. It was a wonderful distraction and bonding experience I treasure to this day. Seek out those special (often unexpected) moments with your love. Spontaneous joy is profound and powerful.
Reading – or being read aloud to – can be super relaxing. (And comparing Dumbledore or Golem impressions can be a surprisingly entertaining way to spend an evening.)
Who doesn’t love music? Share that with your date. Make them an exercise mix, a cooking concert playlist, a sleepy CD or “good morning, Gorgeous!” set.
An oldie but goodie. Start with a place, a person and a phrase and go from there. For example: Place: A highway in Canada. Person: A pharmacist. Phrase: Don’t let go. Now write! Need some more inspiration? Try http://kaction.com/
Paint to music
Get out the paints, put on some music, and paint whatever’s incited by the sounds. Or close your eyes and paint in your mind….
Explore your neighbourhood in the dark
When I was very ill, going out during the day was just too much for me. People? Ack! Sunlight? Gah! But the fresh air was still a wonder drug. So we’d go out at 4 am. Take it from me – the very early morning hours are a marvelous time to explore a city (too late for drunk people, and too early for workers. Good and quiet!) Bear in mind, of course, that if you’re in the country, where there are few streetlights, this game should be adjusted – dusk or dawn is better.
Practice a new recipe together
You’ve always said you should eat more interesting things, or try that stunning Pinterest recipe – do that together, now.
Make music together
Can you sing? Do you play an instrument? Be it a classic violin or a dollar store kazoo, music is music. And it doesn’t have to be good to make a great date night.
Visit museums (in person or online)
Many museums are free and accessible, and when they aren’t, online tours often are – get Googling!
Create a book club
Reading and discussing with your partner or friend is a joy, and thought provoking to boot. Get a new perspective on that old classic, and have fun sharing your insights and ideas.
Move! (Or rest up if that’s more your cup of tea)
When do you feel best? I feel good when I’m moving so we turn movement into a date. Hold your own couples yoga session in your sitting room. Dance together. Use your rebounder. Explore your physical limits. Stretch. Can’t move freely? No problem – rest up while visualising the motions, together.
Movie magic…in installments
Dinner and a movie can be lovely but it can also become a habit. (Translation: bo-ring!) If you find you’re falling into a pattern, there’s a chance you’re confusing relaxation with collapse. When we collapse next to our partner, we check out. Relaxing with our partner is an active, conscious activity. I struggle to watch whole films, so turning them into “series” pieces (watching in installments), breaks up the monotony and keeps Linus and I engaged with one another, while we enjoy the show.
In our home, there’s a date night/conversation starter jar. It’s filled with our ideas for dates and questions to ask one another. When Linus and I need a little extra inspiration, we dip in. For some great starter questions, check out The Idea Room.
P.S You may also enjoy simple ways to strengthen your relationship when chronically ill and 49 things to do when you are sick, in bed and bored.