Sometimes, just sometimes, we find ourselves in a date night rut. Here are 25 of our favorite (and memorable) date night ideas:

1.) A day of golfing or a night of mini golfing. Or bowling.

2.) Paint ball.

3.) A concert or a play.

4.) Eat a leisurely dinner at your favorite restaurant. We’ve got a few go-to restaurants on date night, but one of our favorite spots is our first date restaurant.

5.) Grab coffee. So we usually need the coffee to keep us going after our long days, but it always results in a quiet moment and good conversation.

6.) Take a walk. A late night walk can be incredibly romantic.

7.) Go enjoy open houses. Check out houses way out of your price range just for fun.

8.) Museum/art gallery/science center. Our local Science Center does a Mixology night for adults to play and explore at the science center just like kids do, but with adult beverages in hand. Hubs and I have a blast at this monthly event.

9.) Go to a movie. This is a nice option when we just want time away.

10.) Game night. We love game nights with friends or other couples. Our go-to game is Cards Against Humanity (not for the easily offended).

11.) Date night in. We’re pros at this one: take out, a movie or a game of Scrabble, and wine. It’s our typical Thursday night.

12.) Drinks. This can be as laid back or fancy as you choose.

13.) Dance classes. One of our favorite date nights was a salsa class we took back in the day (long before kids were even a thought).

14.) Ice skating/roller skating. We’ve flashed it back to the 80’s at the local roller rink a few times and have had a blast.

15.) Hockey/baseball/basketball/football/etc. game. It’s not always for guys and their buddies.

16.) Couples massage.

17.) Book store. So, I’m a geek, but I love browsing shelf after shelf of books. Even better that hubs enjoys it too. We geek out together.

18.) Shopping. Yeah, this sounds boring, but sometimes it’s nice to just have a break to get errands done together. Twice a year, Hubs and I hire a babysitter and make a day of shopping for presents for the kids’ birthday’s and Christmas. We’ve had a great time doing this and have some priceless memories. FYI, adults can be asked to leave Toys R Us….

19.) Champagne brunch.

20.) Dessert bar.

21.) Cooking class. Re-create the meal on a date night in.

22.) Kayaking, boating, biking, hiking.

23.) Hit up an arcade. “Bar-cades” that feature pinball and beer are the best.

24.) Trivia night. Many bars and restaurants host trivia. Great to go with friends or other couples.

25.) Cook through a cookbook together. Each week feature a new dish from the menu.

This post was originally featured on Ashlen Sheaffer’s blog, Kidsperts. Featured image via.

Since I’m so shy in public situations, I never would have believed I would have joined an exercise class. But, I have tried so many different things to try and keep my anxiety in check with some improvements here and there but nothing that made a big enough difference.

Since my husband got stationed here a few years ago, I’ve had my eye on taking a yoga class but always felt too self-conscious. I finally said fuck it, who cares, and signed up for a beginning yoga class that lasted several weeks, If you don’t have much experience with anxiety and panic attacks, it may not seem like a big thing to do something as simple as that but it’s huge for me. I was so nervous and worried about being in a class full of people.

It took some time but I found that surprisingly, I really like the group exercise class better than using dvds at home and I felt more inspired to keep up with it.

I found by the end of my second class, it did wonders for my anxiety and I felt like a dumb ass for not embracing yoga much sooner. I haven’t been practicing it much since the beginner class ended but really need to push myself to add yoga into my life more often.

My yoga classes were 90 minutes and truth be told, it took a good half hour before I could finally quiet my mind and actually focus on the now, of being mindful… and it felt good not having so much worry stuck in my head.

But there was some evil that came with my 12 week yoga course. The class was at 6 pm and despite having a light snack beforehand, it took all the focus in the world at times because there was a Chinese restaurant below the yoga studio so all of us would be smelling the deliciousness rising up to our 3rd floor studio. Egg rolls, fried rice, garlic chicken, oh my.

The most amazing part of the yoga class was towards the end of each session when we would spend time relaxing. By then, over an hour had already gone by and I was pretty much in the awesome yoga zone where no matter what life threw at me, it would all still be good. That’s just damn crazy because I don’t ever think that way. Me, optimistic? What?

The class would end but all I wanted to do was stay lying on my mat and spend the night since I was in such a relaxed state. That should be a thing if it isn’t already. Yoga class slumber parties. You wouldn’t have to deal with all the crazy shit awaiting your arrival at home.

After every class, I would take my sweet time walking to my car and driving home since I loved the feeling of my yoga high. I’d pull into the driveway and slide out of the seat of my car, then slowly walk up to the front door of my house, still in a very relaxed state.

My mistake was opening the front door and expecting to let myself settle for a bit while I changed my clothes and ate a late dinner. Instead, I had my daughter run up to me saying “Mom? Mom?? Mommy?? I hurt my toe earlier. I didn’t like what dad made for dinner. Will you please read to me? Am I having hot lunch or cold lunch tomorrow? What are you making me for a snack? Can I have a playdate with Kiki tomorrow?”

Agghhh!

And my husband would bombard me with a play by-play of the 1 1/2 hours that I was gone for class. I was glad they missed me but holy fucking fuck. Give a mom a damn minute. I just wanted to pee and change clothes and heat up dinner when I first got home.

Finally, with food in my stomach, I could handle the “Mom? Mom? Mom?” from my daughter and “Elle? Hey, Pookie?” questions from my husband but unfortunately, my relaxed and groovy namaste would vanish a few minutes after walking into my house.

And this is why there needs to be yoga class slumber parties. Someone get on that!

In case you’re wondering because I know you’re not but I’ll tell you anyway, I only succumbed to the Chinese restaurant once. That was surprising since there were plenty of times when I would be in warrior pose or downward facing dog with my stomach growling over the amazing smells from the restaurant, and would seriously consider ditching the rest of the class to stuff my face.

The food ended up being just as delicious as it smelled. Now, if they decide to put a donut shop next to the gym I started going to over the summer, I’m fucked. I can just see myself in spinning class, holding a box of a dozen donuts, getting Boston cream all over the handlebars.

This post was originally featured on Elle Davis’ blog, This Is Mommyhood. Featured image via.

I am a tired mom of two toddlers and some days getting out of bed seems like too much effort. Making dinner, the last real task I have to complete before putting the kids to bed, takes so much thought and effort and fortitude, and sometimes I just don’t have it in me.

Chop chop, rescue my son off the kitchen table, stir stir, reassure my daughter that her baby doll is not going to be eaten by dragons, boil boil, look at the clock and try to figure out how early I can put them to bed, etc.

You feel me?

Sometimes I deserve a night off damnit. No cooking or cleaning or picking up errant pieces of pasta off of the floor. We all deserve a night off and I’ve done my best to make it possible for you.

Here are 5 recipes anyone can follow in order to give you some peace and quiet and the opportunity to read People in the bathtub. Let them fend for themselves!

1. Salad

Felicity Huffman's What the Flicka-Salad

-Hack off a chunk of iceberg lettuce for every member of your family.
-Give each family member a bowl with their desired dressing.
-Dip hunk of lettuce into the dressing and eat.

2. Sandwich

Felicity Huffman's What the Flicka-Sandwich

-Take out two pieces of bread.
-Spread and slather condiments on bread.
-Slap meat and cheese and shit onto one piece of bread.
-Put other piece of bread on top and eat.

3. Soup

Felicity Huffman's What the Flicka-Soup

via

-Locate can opener without bugging your mother.
-Open can of soup.
-Pour into bowl and eat.
-(Optional) Before eating, place in the microwave for three minutes or however long you feel like waiting.

4. Macaroni & Cheese

Felicity Huffman's What the Flicka-Mac and Cheese

via

-Follow instructions on the damn box.
-If that’s too hard, bring a bunch of water to a boil (that means there will be bubbles.)
-Pour in macaroni.
-Check your Facebook, Twitter, and other social media accounts
-Drain macaroni using a colander you found all by yourself. The noodles will probably be mushy because you need to spend less time on your phone.
-Pour macaroni back into the pot.
-Add cheese powder, milk, and butter. Don’t measure. You don’t care that much. Just grab a fork and eat.

5. Take-Out

Felicity Huffman's What the Flicka-Pizza

-Call a restaurant.
-Ask for food.
-Wait at the door like an eager puppy until it arrives.
-Tip the driver for not being weirded out by the fact you are way too excited to see him, close the door, and eat.
-THROW YOUR TRASH IN THE TRASH CAN. DO NOT LEAVE IT OUT AND EXPECT YOUR MOTHER TO THROW IT AWAY FOR YOU.

You’re welcome, moms.

This post was originally posted on Toni Hammer’s blog, Is It Bedtime Yet? Featured image via.

Who couldn’t use a few tips to help save time daily?  If you’re as busy as I am, sometimes you can’t keep all of the plates spinning.  Friends have often asked me how I do it all — work a full-time job, homeschool three children, attend graduate school, write part-time, have a son on a travel soccer team . . . oh the list goes on.

Of course, as I’ve said before, everything doesn’t get done every single day. I’m human just like everyone else.  But, I have learned several tricks over the years that help this season of my life to be a little more manageable.  Check them out!

The truth is that it’s not a wasted effort.  Simply keep the parts of your schedule consist that are consistent (such as the hours that you work or that your children are in school) and be flexible for the hours that are apt to change without much notice.  This may mean that you have a loose routine from 4pm-8pm on weekdays.  Take the time to rework your schedule for those hours when they change.

1.  Create a daily schedule

I’ve heard many moms say it before, “I am not organized enough for that!”  when talking about homeschooling, cooking real food dinners for their family or returning to school and pursuing their dreams.  My answer?  “Well, get organized!”

Not organizing your time, when it’s so simple to do, is a waste of time!  If you have children, you may protest this by saying that their afternoon schedules change with the seasons, so having a daily schedule for yourself is pointless.

2.  Set a timer

When you first use this tip, you’ll want to set a timer simply to see how long it takes you to do a certain task.  For instance, if you want to take a five minute shower, set a timer for five minutes.  If the timer goes off before you finish your shower you’ll know that you take longer than desired to shower.

Once you’ve decided how long certain tasks should take you set a timer and work to beat your best time.  This way of game-ifying my life has helped me to stay on track when I’m tired or when I’m prone to daydreaming.  To add more fun to mundane data-entry tasks at work, I listen to a popular music streaming website and make a game of finishing a certain number of pages by the time a song is finished.  I work faster this way and am less likely to get lost in thought or make careless mistakes.

3.  Stop watching live TV

Before you commit to this tip, calculate how much time you spend over a week watching TV shows when they are actually shown on TV.  Don’t estimate.  Actually keep track for a week and see what the number is.

If you aren’t taking advantage of DVR technology, online full episodes, or streaming websites, you are wasting time.  I can’t remember the last time I actually watched TV on a TV or watched a show when its first showing was scheduled.

I began using a DVR years ago and had the shows sent to my desktop.  Eventually, I began using Netflix and Hulu Plus and TV network websites to watch my favorite shows.  This summer we cut the cord on cable and haven’t missed it a bit.

I love having my shows waiting for me when I’m ready instead of having to work my life around when my favorite shows air on TV.  I love that I can pause a show at anytime and get back to it when I have time.

I watch an average of 17 minutes of TV per day (with most of my watching happening on weekends, where I’m likely to be found watching on my Kindle while taking a relaxing bath or while doing chores.  Most days I don’t watch any TV at all.)

4.  Take care of the morning the night before

If you are waiting until the morning to pick out your clothes, make lunches, find your keys and your work bag, etc you are wasting time.  Do everything you can do the night before so that you have very little to do the next morning.

This is a simple rule of time saving that my mother taught me as a child.  I’ve even learned to pick my work clothes for a full week on the weekends to save even more time.  Depending on what you’re packing, lunches can be prepared for the week, as well.

5.  Make meals ahead

If your busy evenings leave little time for making a real food dinner, try cooking several meals at once on the weekend and freezing them to reheat the next week.

Another time saver in the kitchen is the beloved slow cooker.  I have three and at least one is usually in use at any time.  Plan more slow cooker meals to save time in the kitchen.

6.  Leave home a few minutes earlier

Once you’ve discovered a little extra time in your morning by preparing for the day the night before, try to leave a little earlier than usual.  Earlier this year I discovered that leaving just ten minutes sooner helped me to avoid slow, heavy traffic.  This is especially important during the school year when school buses are part of the traffic congestion.

7.  Stop multitasking

It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of multitasking. I have found that when I focus on one task at a time, I perform that task with fewer mistakes and it takes me less time over all.

Whatever you’re doing, do it until it’s done before switching to another task.  This will save time and create a calmer, less chaotic mindset.

8.  Don’t take phone calls

This one may be more difficult for you than it was for me.  Since I first began using email regularly in 1996 I’ve considered phone calls to be a waste of time.  Of course, I’m an introvert who doesn’t enjoy chatting with others for the sake of chatting, so it was easy for me to eliminate personal phone calls that don’t have a purpose.  (Don’t worry, I still call my parents who don’t have email and don’t like texting.)

In the time it takes me and another person to get through the socially expected niceties of, “How are you?”, “I’m doing well.  How are you?”, “I’m fine.”  I can have the information I need and send a response via email or text.  Currently, I screen every call to my cell phone and only answer calls from my parents, my husband or my children.  I only return calls when I’m asked a direct question via voice mail and the person doesn’t have email or text.  My husband has even gone so far as to disable his voice mail so that others must text or email him if they need a reply.  (He also answers calls from his parents, me and our children.)

If you get phones calls regularly, let them go to voice mail and pick a certain time each day to return calls.  Reply via text or email when possible and people will eventually get the message that emailing or texting you is the best way to reach you.

9.  Get off social media

Of course, you already know that social media is a total time waster.  I suggest picking two or three ten minute periods in your day where you run through your social media accounts for the latest news or personal updates from friends and family.  That’s 20-30 minutes a day and is plenty to keep up.

10.  Simplify your life and keep everything its place

The less stuff you have, the less stuff competes for your time.  Simplify your material possessions and make sure the ones you do have have a place to live.  If you put your keys in the same place everyday when you walk in the door, they will always be there.  If you own five work outfits, you can plan one for each day of the week and never have to decide what to wear.  (If you own more than five, you can rotate them month to month wearing the same five for a month at a time.)

Do whatever you can to simplify your things and you will find extra time in the spaces where there was once an over abundance of unnecessary material items.

This post was originally featured on Allison’s blog, Our Small Hours. Photo via

I am in the twilight of my forties. When I made my entrance into the world, the milkman brought the white liquid in glass containers, calls were made on a rotary phone, and if you should be unlucky enough to fall asleep early on the night that Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, or A Charlie Brown Christmas was on, you were out of luck until the following year.

So much has changed since I came into the world. But one thing has remained the same in theory if not always form. Coffee.

As I sit at my desk and take another sip from my big mug, a little bit of milk, three Splenda, I realize that ever since I was 16, I have turned to coffee for comfort and refreshment.

READ MORE: How Do I Love Coffee? Let Me Count The Ways…

I first started drinking coffee when I had a job answering phones on the weekend at my mother’s real estate office. Back then it was a splash of coffee and a lot of creamer. Going to the coffee maker was a way to stretch my legs and drink something to keep my voice from getting scratchy from saying, “Good afternoon. How can I help you?” all day.

I then started using larger amounts with less and less milk to keep me up during high school midterms, finals, and projects that I had a tendency to keep to the last minute.

Black coffee became my mainstay when I was a young acting student still living at my parents’ house on Long Island. I would get up early, swig a few gulps before taking a 7:00 am train, buy a cup for the ride and another in Penn Station, quickly stirring in my Sweet ‘n Low, and drinking it while I ran for the subway to make class.

READ MORE: Caramel Coffee Rum

When class was over, I would grab another cup for the longer train ride home where instead of getting off at my home station, I would take the train to the end of the line where I was doing a play.

Then came my time living in the city and getting coffee in small cafes. The locations and the company I kept changed as I went from being a shy struggling actor to a more confident woman who traded the dream of the stage for an office job and a little financial security.

No longer able to drink my coffee black anymore, I started adding a little milk. As my options for sweeteners grew, I went from the pink package, to the blue package, to my current favorite, the yellow package.

READ MORE: 15 Life Hacks For Moms: Surviving Motherhood One Day At A Time

In the 90s, flavored coffee became the rage, and I enjoyed many cups and different flavors with the man who was first my boyfriend, then my husband.

Joe and I made it a hobby to try different blends and flavored coffees throughout Manhattan. We would take long walks and find little speciality coffee shops or just find a little dive diner and sit at the counter and drink just plain old coffee and talk politics or plans for the future.

A few years after we got married, we decided to go full hog and start grinding our own beans and brewing our own coffee. Joe really became a home brewmaster and I started to enjoy cups of coffee in the quiet of our apartment. Paying bills or tackling a big project became a bit more bearable if Joe and I had a cup of coffee to share together.

READ MORE: I Know Where Your Coffee Is!

Now that we live in suburbia, our one nod to our past life in the city is our coffee.

All three of our kids have been accustomed to hearing the whir of the coffee grinder since they were in utero. And each one of their first outings was to a Starbucks.

Coffee is the glue that has kept our marriage together these past 22 years. Nothing has ever been so bad between Joe and I that a conversation over a cup of coffee can’t make it better.

READ MORE: Why I Drink Cold Coffee

What would I do as a mom without a cup of coffee to keep me up or to share with a fellow mom?

I don’t think I’ve ever written an article or blog post without a cup at my side, sometimes hot, more often cold from sitting and waiting for the words to magically appear on my computer screen.

My life has taken many twists and turns during these nearly 50 years. I’ve experienced much joy and some significant sorrow, yet through it all a simple cup of coffee has been my one touchstone. A daily reminder that whatever else may be right or wrong in my life I can be grateful that I can hold my cup of coffee, take a sip, and know that life will go on.

Photo via.

Every night is roughly the same around here. I make dinner. The kids look at it and make wild protests that will not eat “compost” or “whatever this is”. My husband and I start in with the lying and the cajoling to get them to take at least a few bites.

Then it is time to brush teeth. We call this wrestling at my house.

And then the main event of the night: bedtime. After years of torturous bedtime routines that stretch out into hours it has finally dawned on me that perhaps the reason why my children hate bedtime is because they are deeply offended that my husband and I simply cannot wait for them to be asleep. It shows in our eyes.

But once those adorable little ogres of mine are in the land of nod, things get freaky up in here.

I’m talking MOM GONE WILD!

Friday night is when I get to slather mud on my face. I wear my most comfortable sweatpants, the pair with a hole in the waistband, but I don’t care. That pile of glossy magazines from the mail get dusted off and I browse the mindless articles on bento box lunches, toddler tantrums, fat blasting workouts, and why I need to wear weird shades of purple lipstick this fall to go with the faux ombre hair style on page 43.

I flip on the TV and turn it to the least annoying reality show. I fire up the laptop and stalk my favorite bloggers on Twitter and Facebook. A bowl of popcorn appears in my lap and then disappears in my mouth. That tub of ice cream in the freezer might get polished off.

The laundry cries itself to sleep from neglect. The dishes in the kitchen sink can suck it. All of those damn toys littering the living room and dining room floor can play dead for the night because this mom is off duty.

Friday night is when I get as lazy as I can. I relish this time. If the kids knew they would try to ruin it with demands to eat my popcorn or use my face mud to paint something. They would whine that Wild Kratts isn’t on TV.

It is Saturday morning now and I am hung over from too much ice cream. That is not code for anything. I seriously woke up with indigestion. The kids woke up at 5:30 this morning and threw a party in the big one’s room that included throwing a bag of 100 plastic balls down the stairs.

As I reach for my coffee and a bottle of Pepto I smile knowing that last night I relaxed in the most gluttonous and selfish way I could muster.

This post was originally featured on Sarah’s blog, Housewife Plus