The Surprising New Trends from Zulily’s ‘State of the Date Night’ Report
Parents have shown amazing resiliency over the past two years (and counting), navigating unprecedented times during a pandemic while trying to raise, educate and protect their children. From the creativity of turning a kitchen table into a multifunctional school-desk-remote-office-workstation, to juggling new roles and responsibilities including childcare provider, tutor and teacher, your ingenuity has even extended into your relationship as you found new ways to keep your love life interesting — or at least carve out some time to reconnect with your partner.
To dive deeper into what moms and dads need and want when it comes to together time, Zulily asked 2,500 parents, both married and single, to weigh in on Valentine’s Day and share their sentiments, behaviors and attitudes about how date night has evolved. The results, featuring genius time-saving advice and new ideas for working on spending time together, are published in Zulily’s new State of the Date Night report. With Valentine’s Day — the mother of all date nights — just around the corner, let us help you up your game with these tips and ideas.
Date Night Trends for 2022
Finding things to do together with kids in the home can take some creativity, but the pandemic has forced parents to reimagine the traditional date night as they’ve identified what is truly important to them and their relationships.
The survey showed that dads are more likely (40%) than moms (28%) to make plans for date night for Valentine’s Day, but we believe that either party can plan a love-filled day. Our research shows that because of COVID-19 and being together all the time, couples and singles have had to get a lot more creative to make the most of the time they have. Here are some ideas to help you have the just-right date night for you.
2021: Me Time / 2022: Micro Moment Dating.
Last year, Zulily’s “Love’s New Normal” survey found that over half of the moms we asked were looking for the gift of “me time” to recharge following a year of togetherness.
This year, new research shows that “micro moment dating” – defined as shorter, more frequent moments of quality time (under an hour and a half) – is a popular way to connect, in lieu of longer, dedicated date nights. Micro moment dating is especially good for single parents or those with minimal time or only small blocks of free time throughout the day.
Dates also don’t need to happen just at night: Have coffee together, meet for lunch, or go on an afternoon walk. Moms and dads are redefining what quality time means – it’s not necessarily about the amount of time spent with loved ones, but about how that time is spent together. Love certainly looks different now, and it makes a ton of sense, given what’s on parents’ plates.
Think Outside the Popcorn Box: Make Date Nights Uniquely You
When it comes to date night, a dinner out, a movie night and a couples massage are still popular choices. But couples have gotten creative as to what constitutes a date, since they prefer to stay home, whether for COVID-19 precautions or a lack of babysitting help. Pro tip: Think about what you like to do together and turn it into a date night.
Over the last year, many couples have taken up new hobbies together. The top trending activities — tackling home improvement projects, gaming (both the video and board variety) and cooking together — also happen to make for perfect date night material.
The Home Improvement-Loving Couple: Build A Strong Foundation
Call it the Chip and Joanna Gaines “Magnolia” affect, but many couples (19%) love doing DIY or home improvement projects together. For example, putting together furniture or painting a room can be a bonding experience that also helps improve the look and feel of your home.
For The Foodie Couples: Cook Up Something Hot Together
For the epicurean couples who love cooking and baking together (19%), make something special for date night like paella or a craft cocktail. You can even break out your fabulous cookware and try one of those meal kit subscriptions that sends all the ingredients to you for a low-effort, high-impact date night. Or try making a fun parfait for Valentine’s Day dessert.
For The Gamer Couple: Play Together
Many parents (17%) reported that they love a bit of competition and enjoy playing games together. Whether it’s sharing a mission together in two-player mode or taking turns, video games can get you both involved. If you’re into classic board games or puzzles, schedule a game night with all your favorite snacks (even better if you’re both wearing something sexy!)
A Date Night Refresher
Been a while since your last date night? You’re probably not alone. These tips can help you get back in the groove again in no time.
First: Make Date Night Happen
Parents say that their dating lives have changed significantly since having kids and that dating with kids takes some ingenuity. It comes as no surprise that 48% of married and single parents report that the top challenges in planning a date night include working around busy schedules, identifying a time to have a date night, and of course, scheduling childcare.
Pro tip: Get on board with “the Great Date Night Exchange.” Swap babysitting duties with another couple friend with kids to trade date nights.
Next: Plan exactly what you’ll do for date night
The quickest way for date nights to fall off the calendar is to not have something planned. Most couples are having dates less frequently, planning further ahead to accommodate childcare and getting more creative – as well as less elaborate – when planning dates. The survey showed that 58% of parents would rather have the other person plan the date night, so consider a simple fallback plan you both love such as going to a museum or checking out a new restaurant.
Pro tip: Make a list of date ideas in a shared Google doc. Apply some of your super-planning school/research/work skills to your personal life!
Table for Two, Four… or More?
Who should go on the date for date night? Maybe it’s purely to have someone else to talk with, but more parents (30%) are turning to double dates to switch up their time together. Most of the parents polled wanted to double date/get together with other couples on date night. Text your besties to plan an outdoor potluck dinner (your place or theirs) or meet up for dinner.
Is a Date with Your Kids Really a Date Night?
A double date with friends is one thing, but is a date really a date if your kids are tagging along? In the last year, about half of parents surveyed considered a date with their spouse a date, even if their kids were present. Perhaps many parents gave up on the idea of being alone with their spouses or partners given restrictions due to COVID-19, not having anyone to watch the kids or still not quite feeling comfortable dining out at restaurants.
But there are plenty of fun, inspired things you can do to connect at home for a date night with kids. For starters, because the holiday is focused on love, you can use the opportunity to talk to your kids about what love means to all of you and about all the different kinds of love.
As far as your partner goes, set aside distractions, bond over child-rearing, and make a point to connect with one another. Don’t worry about having a perfect date night. Focus on having positive energy and a relaxed mood to connect with your partner.
Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas
When it comes to choosing how to spend Valentine’s Day together, most parents prefer these four options: an overnight trip, a date night in, a fancy dinner, or a night out on the town or having drinks in a bar. But unwrapping a gift on this holiday always feels good too. Here are some suggestions for the loved one on your list:
- Enjoy group activities? Consider gifting a trivia game and testing your knowledge against your couple friends on your next double date.
- Love a family affair? Try gifting art supplies for a crafty date night that’s fun for the entire family.
- Likes to cozy up at home? A candle or fancy glassware can add a touch of romance to your dining room table setting.
- Is your partner a busy mom who’s always on the go? Try gifting a nice planner and pen set for your next date night, or a catch-all tote to hold all those “mom” essentials.
- Want to give a perfect, relaxing evening? Create a stay-at-home spa date night with cozy slippers, candles, and a fragrant bath bomb.
- Is your significant other a foodie? Consider gifting a cookbook for date night dinner inspiration, or Le Creuset® cookware or bakeware.
- Into gaming? Consider gifting a board game or card game, or bring back an old classic, a jigsaw puzzle.
- Home improvement lover? Home décor items, such as art, picture frames, or throw pillows are great gifts to kick off an evening redecorating a room in your home together.
Check out our list of Valentine’s Day Gifts specifically for moms, as well as gift ideas for the man in your life, too.
The Greatest Gift Of All: Quality Time Together And Reconnecting
Date nights are more important now than ever to feel more emotionally and physically connected to your partner. Our survey reveals that parents are keeping romance alive by experiencing moments of togetherness in unique ways. So, whether you and your partner prefer multiple quick bursts of time together, double dates, date nights or even date mornings, quality time is the key to connecting with the important relationships in your life.
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“State of the Date Night Report” methodology: The survey of 2000 parents and 500 single parents of children 0-18 was commissioned by Zulily between Nov. 23 and Nov. 29, 2021 and conducted by market research company OnePoll.