As a nation so averse to Americanisms – ‘reaching out’? Keep your hands to yourself, thanks – it’s funny how ‘date night’ has entered our lexicon so readily in recent years. It’s certainly not because we all found that Steve Carrell and Tina Fey film so amusing… No, it’s probably because it’s alerted us to a weekly Stateside tradition that we should all be observing as busy parents, in an era when, mercifully, women can expect to return to the career they were building before having kids.
So, workplace politics aside, how to ensure those precious few child-free hours are well worth the babysitter fee? Here follows five footloose and fancy-free tips.
1. Alternate who’s ‘hosting’ and make it a surprise. It isn’t Valentine’s or a special birthday, so the pressure’s off – make it quirky. What about greyhound racing at Shawfield? Or, speaking of animals, one of Edinburgh Zoo’s late-night events? What’s not to love about zebras and wine?
2. Don’t force yourself not to talk shop – the kids and domestic stuff are all bound to come up eventually, so don’t fool yourself. Embrace it as a rare opportunity to congratulate yourselves on a job well done (while you are, in actual fact, skiving).
3. Stay in, dress up, cook something nice (see ‘Fillet a fish’ below). With the kids dispatched to grandparents or friends, the house will never feel more decadently large or quiet. And you needn’t worry about ‘getting a room’.
4. Speaking of dressing up, polish your shoes. She will jump at the chance to make an effort, so you should too. Just don’t get testy waiting for her downstairs – that’s a surefire bomb-drop on the whole shebang.
5. It doesn’t always have to end in ‘you know what’, so don’t add that to the pressures of babysitters, table reservations and sparkling conversation. As for those three? You’re on your own there, matey…