The art of micro-dating - how to grab some time together

We recently conducted a survey* that revealed 67% of parent couples agreed that date nights were really important for their relationship. But how do you find the time?

Most couples know that spending quality time together on regular date nights is a good way to keep your relationship healthy. Whether once a week or every month, doing something special together can help recapture some of the spontaneity of your early days together and keep the fires of romance burning.

If only it were so easy

Now, as many of you are probably already shouting at the screen, there is a problem with the idea of regular date nights for parents – your little monsters!

Once children enter the equation, who has the time, the energy or the money, to spend an evening eating out together once a week, or going to see that new play you read about?

Again, the findings of our survey back this up, with parents finding it hardest to keep up with regular date nights. Among the reasons they cited were the cost(41%) and tiredness (46%).

Besides time and tiredness, theatres and restaurants are expensive. As are baby-sitters, unless you can find a handy, willing grandparent.

And worrying about not being able to find the hours or money to spend quality time together will probably end up causing you more stress than the date night would have helped ease, anyway.

Again, the findings of our survey back this up, with parents finding it hardest to keep up with regular date nights. Among the reasons they cited were the cost (41%) and tiredness (46%).

Introducing a solution

However, there is another way for the two of you to share some intimate moments together without the outlay in time and money – it’s called micro-dating.

What is micro-dating?
The concept of micro-dating really comes down to recognising and appreciating those moments that already exist in your relationship, and looking for opportunities to create more little moments like them.

For example, when you wake up in the morning, do you both tumble out of bed on opposite sides and blearily wander off to sort the children’s breakfasts and packed lunches? Why not just take a few seconds for a quick cuddle before you get out of bed? It’s that simple. Once you start looking for opportunities, you’ll start finding them everywhere – a touch on the arm, a kiss on the cheek, a knowing glance, a shared joke, a hand held – tiny things, but over time they add up and make a difference.

That’s micro-dating in its purest form – not just acting on auto-pilot, but instead looking for chances to reframe shared moments.

Taking it to the next level
From there you can step things up a little, by taking breaks from routine to do a little something together. You could stop off for a quick coffee together before heading to work in the morning, for instance. And when you do, not taking out your phone, but having a real conversation. You can even do that over breakfast at home – turn off the radio, put down the newspaper and chat, just for a few minutes.

Surprise them
Then there’s deliberately creating unexpected moments. You might turn up to meet your other half at work for a surprise lunch date or at the station on their way home from work, without warning, and walk home the long way together.

Suggestions you could try
There are so many possible ways micro-dating could improve the quality of your parental life. As our survey told us that 39% of you find it difficult to come up with new ideas for date nights, and that 53% of you said you’d love there to be somewhere that provided you with some ideas, we’ve taken matters in hand and offer some thoughts to help get you started.

  • Tapping into your shared history is a good way to stir happy memories. Were you both once gamers? Then take an hour one evening, when the children are asleep, to have a game of Super Mario. For full authenticity, you’ll have to sit on cushions in front of the telly. Or a cushion together.
  • If video games weren’t your thing, perhaps a game of cards, or even trying to finish a crossword together.
  • Both working? Then synchronise your lunchtimes and video call each other for a quick catch-up.
  • If you don’t have the time to go out for a meal for two, cook dinner at home together – alternate cooking up one of your and your partner’s favourite meals each week
  • Work out a 5-minute exercise routine you can do together at the end of each day. Perhaps you could add in a shoulder massage, too.
  • You don’t even have to escape your children altogether. Take them to a soft play centre, and while they’re busy wearing themselves out, you can catch up over coffee and cake. Or take them along to a swimming or activity class at the weekend, so you can spend some quality time as a couple while your little ones are enjoying themselves, too.

You’ll doubtless have your own ideas, things that relate to your own lives together, and that no-one but the two of you would know about. So, why not get started today? You have nothing to lose and thousands of micro-dates to gain.

*Poll conducted in July 2018 with 1,000 parents from around the UK.