Thursday, October 1, 2015

Date Night

Just chillin' at a bar on a Wednesday after midnight, as one does when childless. 
When you're unencumbered by children, the idea of a "date night" seems ridiculous.  Back in the days before we had kids, date night was every night!  Spontaneity was the name of the game; if the desire struck, we made it happen.  Dinner at 10pm on a Tuesday?  You bet.  After all, we didn't have to get up with our kids before the sunrise.  Drive to Vegas on a whim?  Absolutely.  Let me just grab a bathing suit and a slutty outfit and I'll meet you in the driveway!

There was no pre planning, no negotiating with spouses or sitters, just good ol' fashioned FREEDOM. 

The closest we're getting to "spontaneous" these days is ordering takeout on a Wednesday night because no one had time to grocery shop.

Now that we have two small humans under our charge, date night is a huge event that is planned weeks, sometimes months, in advance.  It requires lots of calculated choreography, not unlike staging a Broadway show.

1. Secure a babysitter.  This sounds simple in theory, but you'd be surprised just how complicated this can be.  All future decisions about date night hinge on which babysitter is available.  If your usual babysitter is available - the one your kids know best and are comfortable with - you're in the date night winners circle.  This means that your kids will let her put them to bed and that you can eat dinner at any time you please, because you don't have to worry about being home for the bedtime routine.  If your normal sitter isn't available, you've entered the date night danger zone.  You have one of two options: forgo date night altogether, or go out after you've put your kids to bed and pray that they don't wake up, wander into the living room to find some strange person sitting on the couch watching Pitch Perfect 2, and commence screaming loud enough for your nosy neighbor to call the police, thereby cutting your date night short.

2. Choose a destination.  Assuming that date night is a voluntary activity and not predetermined by a wedding, school fundraiser, or work event, then you have to decide where to go and what to do.  Sometimes a cultural event or a movie sounds exciting, but you'll also need to eat either before or after these outings, which means an extra one to two hours of babysitting time.  Using an average cost of $15-$20 per hour, this means that your dinner/movie/play is going to set you back twice as much as it would if you didn't have kids.  So, you have to ask yourself: would I still want to see this movie if it cost $50 a ticket, instead of $25?  Forget about those post-theater night caps you used to enjoy in the old days; once the evening's activity is over, you're racing home to get a decent night's sleep so you're halfway functional when your kids want to do craft projects at 6:30am.

3. Make a reservation or purchase tickets.  Weekend dinner reservations between peak dinner hours are hard to come by in most major metropolitan cities.  Chances are that by the time you've booked a sitter and figured out what you want to do, there won't be any table available at any of the restaurants you're interested in trying during the hours when your sitter is available.  Same too with regards to movie tickets or the Hollywood Bowl.  You will get so desperate for date night to happen that you will agree to a 9pm dinner reservation and write a note on your calendar to drink coffee at 3pm to ensure you don't nod off over appetizers.  It's not unheard of to convince yourself that you don't mind sitting in the front row at the movie theater or behind a pole at Disney Hall because you are that desperate to spend just a few hours away from your children.

4. Schedule time to get ready.  Break out your iCal, because you and your spouse must schedule time to actually get ready for the date.  Figuring out the best way to divide childcare responsibilities so that each of you has a chance to shower and get dressed is a delicate negotiation.  Between work and the busy social life of toddlers, it's entirely possible that you will have to get ready one to two days beforehand, and sleep in your makeup.

5. Actually leave the house.  Date night can be foiled at the last minute by so many things: a sitter who cancels, a sick kid, an exhausted parent who was up all night with the sick kid, an epic tantrum, or a spouse who refuses to leave during said tantrum.  Cancelling date night can seem very alluring, especially if you have a TV in your bedroom and a subscription to Netflix and HBO.  Do not let yourself be swayed by the call of a soft bed and a remote control!  You have worked too hard to make this date night happen, so unless you are literally coughing up a lung or have accidentally severed one of your digits, it's important to rally.  You will be so glad that you went out, even though you were exhausted and grumpy, and really didn't feel like looking cute and conversing with your spouse or others.

Remember, date night is totally worth it.  At least until you wake up with a raging hangover the next day.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

What a New Mom REALLY Wants

practical gifts for babies
Don't even think of putting me in that stupid monogrammed robe.
Before I had my own kids I used to give really terrible baby gifts.  It's not that I wasn't well-intentioned, it's just that I honestly had no clue what new parents would find useful (I was this way before I got married too, so if I attended your wedding and I gave you a piece of art pottery instead of the toaster/blender/sheets that you really wanted, I sincerely apologize).  It honestly never occurred to me just how stupid it is to purchase a monogrammed bathrobe for a baby.  There are so many cute items that seem super practical, until you actually have a child and realize just how useless they are (I'm looking at you here, shopping cart cover).

Now that I'm a seasoned veteran of Viet-Mommy, I have a pretty decent idea of what to get a new Mom.  Interestingly enough, "monogrammed bathrobe" did not make this list.

Meal Train.  This is the gift that costs nothing, but that just keeps on giving.  One of the hardest things when you bring home a new baby is feeding yourself and your family.  Take out is great, but there are only so many nights that you can eat Kung Pao Chicken before you grow feathers and try to fly out of the spicy nest.  After a few nights of hospital food, or a few weeks of takeout, a home cooked meal tastes amazing.  Volunteer to set up a  Meal Train for new parents, and invite friends and family to volunteer to drop off a meal.  It's completely free to sign-up, and very user friendly.  Someone in my Mom's group set one up for us after the Little Lady arrived, and I was so grateful; I actually cried when I ate the delicious turkey bolognese that arrived on my doorstep.

Housecleaning.  Babies are dirty.  I guess technically they aren't really that dirty, per se, but they poop a lot and they generate a lot of laundry.  Also, the last thing you want to do right after you've pushed a human out of your vag is clean a bathroom.  If you're feeling generous, or if you have a group of friends who want to go in on a gift together, why not give the gift of cleanliness?  A new Mom who is drowning in laundry and dishes and dirty floors will be forever grateful at your thoughtfulness.

Blow out.  I may not be a fan of the delivery room blowout trend, but I am 100% in favor of getting your hair done before your first postpartum night out.  Give the gift of an at-home blow out so that your new mommy friend doesn't have to worry about childcare or nursing, and she can enjoy being pampered.

Mani/Pedi.  Give the gift of alone time and offer to babysit while your friend gets her nails done.  Changing diapers is Hell on a manicure, and now that your friend can actually see her toes, it might be nice if her feet didn't look like hooves.  Shell out for one of the nicer nail salons in the neighborhood, because there's a very good chance this will be your friend's last manicure until her kid goes to college. 

Baby Bath Tub.  Looking for something more traditional and/or cheaper?  The baby tub is your answer.  These are useful and reasonably priced.  Also, no one else ever seems to buy the tubs, so they're always left on the registry even if you're purchasing the gift the day of the shower (ahem, me).  Yes, I know that you're only supposed to bathe newborns once a week, but those little critters are super slippery and liable to get lost in a giant kitchen sink full of non-toxic soap bubbles.  Trust me, no new Mom has ever been given a baby tub and wished for a silver rattle.

Of course, sterling silver baby spoons are a great gift too; the parents can always sell them on Ebay and use the proceeds to buy a really safe carseat.

This site was made with love by Angie Makes