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The New Dinner Date

We’re almost one month into our two days of daycare, and the transition has been pretty smooth. Both kids seem to really have fun in their classes, although my daughter still says she misses her old teacher and friends from her old preschool. (Parental heartbreak and guilt!) I get super insanely detailed reports from the teachers, so I know exactly what they’ve been up to during the days. And I’m getting to work, uninterrupted, and not feel quite so insanely busy and unbalanced.

I have to say: it’s nice to have two days a week when the kids are at school, not splashing in the dog’s food bowl or stealing kitchen utensils or pulling the curtains down. I miss them, and I’m always sad to see them go in the mornings, but it is nice to have some grown-up time to myself, too. And having so much faith in the daycare they’re in makes it a lot easier for me to enjoy the days rather than feel guilty.

On my “off days,” I’ve had to run out here and there for errands or a doctor’s appointment and it’s insane how quickly you can get in and out of the house or store when you’re not wrangling coats and boots and two kids going in opposite directions. And considering that I had an annual ob/gyn visit over the summer that I took both kids to — as if those visits need added fun — it’s nice to be able to schedule a doctor’s appointment where I only have to worry about entertaining myself in the waiting room (and not worry about two kids being bored in an exam room!).

But the daycare perk I’m most excited about is that I can occasionally meet my husband halfway for lunch.

Credit: jenny downing, Flickr

Credit: jenny downing, Flickr

This might not be a big deal to some parents. But my husband and I don’t have family nearby, so we rarely get a night out together. Finding a babysitter isn’t easy — and we’re hesitant to have anyone else even attempt bedtime because we’d be afraid to scare them off permanently. So we’ve kind of accepted the fact that we’re at a time in our lives where we have to sneak in dates when family comes or by doing a movie and popcorn at 9 p.m., or at the gym for our side-by-side treadmill runs.

But we both have to eat lunch! And we have two days every week when the kids are cared for! So we’ve decided that we’re going to make at least a monthly lunch date a habit. Our first lunch date one was at this restaurant in Cranford, N.J., called A Toute Heure. It’s decidedly not a place we’d ever take the kids — the inside of the restaurant is all fresh and clean like out of a Pottery Barn catalog and the decibel level isn’t enough to drown out kids — so we made it our Valentine’s Day celebration. We had marinated olives as an appetizer, a roasted carrot soup and their grilled cheese of the day. It was awesome. I’m sure the server could tell by our giddiness that we don’t get out much, but it really was fun to have a meal out where we didn’t have to worry about crayons and what would hit the floor next.

So now our task is finding our next fancy restaurant for a lunch date, and I’m pretty much counting down the days. How do you manage to get date nights now that you have kids? Anyone else feel like the lunch date is the new dinner date? —Erin

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