Think about it, moms and dads: When was the last time you went to a restaurant without a kids’ menu? Or went to a movie that wasn’t animated? Or went bowling without bumpers? Or — just imagine this — went out for cocktails?

Be honest: When was the last time you had a date night?

As parents, we get so caught up in day-to-day life that we forget to schedule some time for ourselves. Our lives revolve around our children, and sometimes that comes at the expense of giving ourselves a much-needed time out. Plus there’s the organizational angle: Where to go? What to do? How do I fit this into our family budget? How do I find a great sitter? (This being Sittercity, we have that last one covered for you!) Here are some cheap date night ideas to get you and your spouse out of the house and out on the town.

Search for daily deals. Most thrifty parents are already expert deal hunters (hey, kids are expensive!) but have you looked around for grown-up deals lately? If you’re time-crunched (and hey, who isn’t?) sites like Groupon and Living Social will bring the deals to you when you sign up for their daily emails. Deals on restaurants, theater tickets and comedy clubs are commonplace (and always fun), but sometimes you can find discounts on more unusual dates, from hot-air balloon rides to skydiving.

See a minor league team for major savings. Minor league games (including night games) have all the same fun as a major-league team at a fraction of the price. Plus, chances are you’ll get great seats!

Go BYOB. Choosing a BYOB restaurant for your date night dinner can save you a chunk of change when the bill comes at the end. Not sure how to find a BYOB place? Try online resources such as Yelp,, UrbanSpoon or even iPhone apps such as CorkageFee.

Go for drinks only. It’s sort of the opposite of BYOB, right? Whether your tastes run towards elegant mixology bars or local watering holes, you can have a fun night with your partner without the dinner part of the bill. (But be sure to eat something at home before you go!)

Do dessert only. Whether it’s a trip to a sweet little ice cream shop or sidling up to a restaurant bar for a fancy piece of cake, going out for dessert can feel indulgent. (And if it’s nice outside, you can go for a stroll with ice cream cones.)

Grab coffee. Lots of coffee houses have open mics, bands and other live entertainment that’s free with a couple of cups of joe. Plus, a kitschy independent coffee house is always a great setting for a romantic date.

Hit the lanes. Bowling can be an incredibly fun date night that stays well within your budget. If you’re up for a weekday date, your local bowling alley may also have reduced prices and ladies’ nights that you can take advantage of.

Look for local freebies. Does your town do summer movies in the park? Does your local museum have free days? How about free concerts or street fests? Chances are there are plenty of activities that won’t cost you a cent.

Bike or hike. Or take a yoga class, or do any other sorts of activities that’ll make you feel healthy without having to worry about the kids in tow.

Open house-hop. Have little ones but still haven’t bought a house yet? Get a Sunday afternoon sitter and take a self-guided tour of homes in neighborhoods you’d like to live in someday.

Go skating. Whether it’s ice skating or roller skating, this is a date night cliché for a reason — it’s ridiculously fun!

All right, so you have your date night planned! Still need a sitter? Find and book amazing sitters near you wherever you are. Try it today!

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