About four weeks ago, my and Paul’s lives irreversibly changed: We welcomed our son, Jeremy. While I haven’t figured out many things about new motherhood (like how to get more than 5 hours of sleep while still doing the dishes and laundry and feeding yourself and the baby often enough), I have realized that connecting as a couple is more important than ever. Truthfully, my mom recognized this before I did and offered to make the trip to our house to babysit while Paul and I went out–sans bebe–for the first time since Jeremy’s arrival (that’s us kissing him goodbye before we left). The night didn’t go as planned, but we learned some key things that I’m hoping can help you.
1. Go to your favorite place.
Sounds obvious, but we failed to do so. Aside from all the reasons you love this destination, favorite places have a big advantage: They’re known quantities. Paul and I foolishly checked out a new restaurant near our new home for our first parental date night. Despite it being recommended by several people, the swarms of gnats flying around our outdoor seats prompted us to inhale the so-so food instead of leisurely enjoying ourselves. Plus, said so-so food (or my inhaling of it) caused some spectacular GI distress. This is not how you want to spend your reentry into civilization.
2. Call this place.
Even if you’ve been there before, make sure nothing unusual is going on before you head over. You don’t want to spend those precious moments alone driving to a spot that’s closed for a private party or renovations–or as we did, one with nearly an hour-long wait–especially if you’re nursing.
3. Allow way more time than usual to get ready.
Looking presentable takes a lot more effort when you’re severely sleep-deprived and 25 pounds above your pre-pregnancy weight, as I am. And babies don’t give a f$*&! that you’ve got someplace to be and may demand your (and not your sitter’s) attention.
4. Don’t leave your iron on.
Whether you’re pressing clothes or curling/straightening your hair, triple-check that you’ve turned off appliances that can cause a fire–or you to worry you might cause a fire. I wound up shutting my straightening iron but not unplugging it, which made me think I had left the power on. And that made me call my mom mid-bite to verify I hadn’t made that mistake.
5. Don’t rule out too many topics of conversation.
I fully support skipping baby poop talk during dinner, but putting a moratorium on discussing your child–the most important and new thing in your lives right now–may have you struggling to come up with other subjects if the baby is brand new and neither of you has been to work or social events since his momentous arrival. Just let your chatter flow naturally, and you’ll see you won’t dwell on your little one too long.
6. If you call to check on your kid, keep it short.
Vowing not to contact the sitter on your date may make it more tempting to do so. Better to give yourself permission to check in if you feel like it. Still, dinner isn’t the time to request specifics on spit-up. Asking “How’s he doing?” should get you all the info you need to feel at ease while you’re out. Besides, other patrons probably don’t want to hear you talk about baby bodily functions.
7. Order dessert.
We couldn’t wait to leave the restaurant (we’re still finding dead gnats on our skin), but if your date is relatively insect-free, end it on a sweet note. The night will feel more complete and you won’t feel like you missed out. Despite my bad stomachache, we stopped to pick up ice cream for us and my parents on the way back. Indulging in it was the best part of the whole night.
Have a great time out! You deserve it. Parents, how did you spend your first night away from your child?
More About Babies
Emily Knew the Time Is Never 100% Right for Having a Baby
Lauren Realized She Was Less “Not Ready” for a Baby
How Cynthia Decided She Was Ready for Motherhood
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