"Dating" with a Pint-Sized Plus One

by Jennifer Prod

(Photos courtesy of Jennifer Prod)

Lights, camera, action! The stars (meteors, Mr. Matt Damon, etc.) light up the night-sky, and the new parents get comfy with apple-cider and popcorn. Teenagers snuggle to the left, a family of seven grills on the right, and the baby sleeps happily in the back. The advertisement was accurate: everyone is having an old-school good time at Vali-Hi.

Dating my husband has always been a priority, but it’s required more work (read: planning and babysitters) since we welcomed a bitty boy into our family. My data-driven husband works Monday through Friday (okay, okay, sometimes it’s more like Sunday through Saturday), and I stay home with our laughing, bouncingl messy bundle, 6-month old Max.

Curious about the romance? I want to be as intentional about being a wife as I am about being a mother, and so I plan regular date nights.  Our date nights sometimes involve a sitter (thank you in-laws!), but they usually just mean we’re spending QT on the couch while Max sleeps (think wine-and-cheese flights while watching House of Cards). This weekend, however, I planned a date-night away from the couch even though the in-laws were busy. My solution? Bring the baby along. 
The majority of our free time is focused on enjoying our babe; we work together to understand his personality, and then we find ways to develop, inspire, and motivate him.  For our efforts, we’re rewarded with coos and smiles and nosedive kisses.  We’re busy, yes, but life is good indeed.

Part of the fulfillment comes from carrying pieces of our pre-parent identities (both as individuals and as a couple) into our new roles as parents. For example? Jon wakes up an hour early to read the news, check sports scores, and go for a run. As for me? I’m learning to read novels, write stories and edit photographs while Max naps on my lap.

Bringing baby on date night? Isn’t that categorically incorrect? Doesn’t a date, by definition, mean the babe is being cared for elsewhere? Welp, usually, yes, but not when the date begins after bedtime and the little one never knows you left the house.

My husband is my hunk of choice, but Matt Damon, has um, impressed me ever since Good Will Hunting. A new film, The Martian, features Matt surviving alone on Mars for two hours. My curious mind went to work: how do we enjoy the film with a squirming six-month old?

I thought back to my earliest movie-going days, and I remembered my parents taking me to see The Wizard of Oz at the drive-in. YES. That memory was exactly what I needed to a) incorporate Max into date night and b) see Matt Damon. All good things.

How’d our date night with baby go over? Very well. The show started at 8 p.m., and Max slept inside the car until the credits rolled. Our little one dreamed of Curious George and sweet potatoes, and we enjoyed a fall picnic under (and with!) the stars. I call that a win for everyone.

Jennifer Prod is an oh baby! guest blogger, a regular blogger for Pregnancy and Newborn Magazine, and the woman behind Kindred Studio. She wants to make you laugh and cook you dinner, most likely homemade pizza or pasta (maybe pizta?), and she's on a mission to make her newborn laugh everyday (#thesnuggleisreal).  


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