It’s a common refrain: Date nights help your relationship. In fact, according to a 2016 study by the Marriage Foundation, couples that have a date night once a month are 14 percent less likely to break up. (And who can argue with science?) Here’s the thing: Date nights are really just a chance to reconnect with your partner on a regular basis, so your relationship stays strong. They can be during the day or at night, fancy or cheap, planned way in advance or (if you have a reliable sitter) spur of the moment. You’ve just got to make them happen. Here are some common date night excuses we’ve heard — and why parents shouldn’t fall for them.

It’s too much of a hassle.
Planning a date night is definitely too much of a hassle — when only one partner is doing the planning. If you’re already making grocery lists, scheduling doctors’ appointments, juggling PTA meetings and soccer games, you might be saddled with what’s being called the “mental load” (perfectly explained by this French comic that recently went viral). Make planning the date a team effort — s/he picks the restaurant, you find the sitter — so that neither of you feels burdened with the “work” of planning a date.

I can’t leave my kids with anyone else!
First, figure out if your child is experiencing separation anxiety or if you are. Baby separation anxiety is normal, and an experienced infant sitter will work with you to ease the transition in a safe and healthy way. Older children can sniff separation anxiety on you from a mile a way and react accordingly. This can cause problems when they’re older and away from you for longer periods of time (such as school trips or sleepover camp). Finding sitters you trust and use on a regular basis will help you feel comfortable going out and help your kids feel secure.

It’s easier if we just go out separately.
He goes to a concert with his buddies on Friday; she heads out to a girls’ night dinner on Saturday. You both get to go out and you don’t have to worry about who’ll watch the kids — it’s the best of both worlds, right? Not quite. While it’s important to keep in touch with friends, you shouldn’t do it at the expense of your relationship.

It’s expensive.
Date nights don’t have to be elaborate — what’s important is that you’re hanging out with your partner one-on-one outside the house. Really, this last part is important. Don’t fall into a Netflix-and-chill habit where one of you falls asleep on the couch while the other one finishes off a bottle of wine and the latest episode of Game of Thrones. That’s not a date night. Date nights require you both being awake. Go to an ice cream shop or a café. Take a walk in the park or browse the non-kids section of the library (for once). Sometimes cheap dates are the happiest dates of all.

Ugh, it’s cold out.
C’mon. Need us to buy you a sweater?

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