“You managed to get a night out together – amazing!” Before having kids, no-one ever congratulates you on going to the pub… Now it’s all about the ‘date night’. Apparently, it’s something we all need to schedule into our lives in order to protect our relationships. Did we even use the phrase ‘date night’ seriously before becoming parents, and we started to feel like getting dressed up and heading out of the house without the kids required months of military planning?

Maybe it’s because lots of people don’t live near their families anymore, which means they don’t automatically have childcare whenever they need it. Maybe it’s because, as a society, we’ve started judging parents who spend time away from their kids. Self-sacrifice is the name of the game, and we compete over who gets the least sleep, who is the busiest, and whose children are the most demanding. Whatever the reason, many parents only take time away from their kids when it’s absolutely necessary, e.g. to go to work, and feel guilty for even wanting to do more things without them.

But we’re still essentially the same people we were before having kids, and we still want to spend time with the person we loved enough to have had children with, right?

We’ve been talking to parents about how they find time for each other, without the kids. From childfree trips to IKEA, to secret lunches during school hours, and drinking coffee together in the front seat of the parked car while the kids are asleep in the back. What we’re hearing is that mums and dads still want to hang out with each other as grown-ups sometimes without having to parent at the same time.

And what about the other stuff? What about the trips to the pub, the theatre visits and the fancy restaurants? Do we really need lead times of weeks or even months just to go and eat dinner somewhere without the kids, where the pressure is then on to have an amazing time because date nights only come around a few times a year?

Our answer is no! We just don’t believe that Date Night is something parents aspire to, in fact it’s actually the opposite. We want ‘date night’ to become such a normal occurrence that it doesn’t even need a name anymore, and is just… well… ‘night’. It doesn’t have to mean an overly engineered evening out; it can be whatever you want it to be. It can be you simply enjoying the things you enjoyed before you had kids – Sunday morning coffee with the weekend papers, a trip to an art gallery, a huge Sunday lunch at a local gastropub – and doing those things whenever you want to do them.

And we can still enjoy our illicit trips to IKEA too.

We’d love to hear how you manage to find time with your other half. Share your stories on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #datelikeaparent. We’ll share all of your posts!