10 Playful Ideas to Amp Up Date Night

A lot of people believe that to create a good romantic relationship we must carve out “quality” time to spend with our partner.  We’re even told to schedule a weekly or monthly date night.

Playtime, it's not just for kids!

Playtime, it's not just for kids!

The problem is that date night quickly becomes a prescription to fix something and looks like another obligation on the to-do list. A lot of expectations and meaning get attached to it too.

The real trick to improving our relationships is knowing where our experience is coming from and then showing up and simply enjoying each other — whether it’s planned or spontaneous. 

But if you’re out of ideas and would like to do something fresh, then it's time to take a cue from the kids and remember how to play.  

1. Play with Your Food
Try a new recipe or create a signature cocktail together. If you don't like cooking, have one person order unusual takeout dishes, then blindfold and feed the other. See if they can guess what they're eating. Be nice, no wasabi paste please!!

2. Game Night
We typically think of game night as a friends and family affair, but if you’d prefer a quiet night in, or have young children that can’t play difficult games yet, then game night with your partner is a great option. Have a particularly strong competitive streak that might ruin the fun? There are many cooperative games hitting the market that you might want to take a look at. Then break out the game table and pretzel mix baby.

Looking for something saucier? Have fun looking for bedroom board games. Have more fun playing.

3. Try Something New
Because children have limited experience, they are often trying new things. Think about something you’ve seen or heard about that sounds interesting and give it a go. From a pottery class, to a book group, or tennis lessons — anything that's outside your current realm of experience. Interested in physical challenges? Try indoor skydiving, hang gliding, scuba diving, a hot air balloon ride, driving a race car, mushing or snowmobiling, hitting the rapids in a kayak, or rafting, or... well, you get the point.

4. Story Time
Listen to an audiobook or podcast together. For a real change of pace, just sit holding hands and enjoy the story. Reading to one another can be very intimate too. Pick a book you've both wanted to read for awhile, or get really crazy and read each other poetry. I’m currently loving the work of Tyler Knott Gregson.

5. Pretend You're in College
Get drunk and play video games… ok, well not really. Since most of us aren't in college, this probably looks more like "have a glass of wine or coffee and try not to fall asleep while playing on our kid's xBox.” But no matter what you call it, it's fun. This is usually best when you pick games that you're both terrible at, or games where you are on the same team.

6. Head Outside
While this could be a prearranged hike or game of tennis, don't limit yourself. Jump outside for a spontaneous game of badminton, bocce or croquet, or simply banter back and forth with Ogo Sport paddles, a Frisbee, a soccer ball, etc. Not only do these outside forays need not be planned, they can be short — even fifteen minutes is a fun break.

7. Ask Questions
Children are always questioning, but as adults we just assume we know. Also, even as adults we can change, so what was true for us five years ago may not be what’s true for us now. Get to know your partner better by asking questions.  If it’s too hard to think of something fresh to ask, you can purchase cards like The Art of Conversation or Table Topics that will prompt you.

8. Play Spa
If you have long hair, have your spouse learn to braid it. (Sailors of yore used to have plaiting partners and they would take turns braiding each other's locks while at sea.) Do each other’s nails or take a couples massage class.  If you're really brave you can give each other haircuts... or better yet, just wash each other's hair. That's the best part of going to the hair salon anyway.

9. Go Along for the Ride
Kids are often along for the ride. They know when they have to be ready to go, but often they’re not involved in deciding much about their outings. While kids may not always like this, as an adult it’s a fun switch from being in charge. Take turns coming up with secret places (like a new coffee shop or museum) to take each other. If your destinations aren't too far from home you can even blindfold each other for the car ride to add more suspense.

10. Laugh with Abandon
Laughter is priceless. Kids know this instinctively and are naturals at falling into piles of giggling lumps. As a toddler my daughter would ask, "Mom, how can I make you laugh?" What a wonderful question!

So how can you laugh with your partner? Watch a TV show with the volume off and make up your own dialog. Find a good joke book, or website to read. Watch completely sophomoric movies and don't worry about what your friends might think of you watching them. Go to a comedy club, or rent a DVD of a comedic performance.

If all else fails — have a naked pillow fight!