I Still Struggle With Date Night

You're a working mom. It's what you've always known. So, why is it still so hard to leave your kids for a date night? Why can't you enjoy a night out?

I’m a working mom. It’s what I’ve always known. It’s a part of who I am.

I worked up until the day I was induced with my first child. It was 10 days past my expected due date. Every day that I walked through the door at work, my co-workers were surprised. I’m not sure if it was because I remained pregnant or if it was because I was still going to work. Either way, I told them I wanted every day of my maternity leave to be with my new baby, not wanting a day of it to be waiting for her to be born.

Twelve weeks after my daughter’s birth I returned to work. Many women told me they were surprised to see me back. They said they thought I would enjoy motherhood too much to return. This is confusing when you consider that the implication is that I must love my child less because I’m a working mom. I know that’s not what they really intended to be saying. They were working moms themselves, after all. I let that roll off, believing they meant well. I found a new normal as a new mom. Not just as a mom, but a working mom who was away from my baby for several hours at a time, five days a week. It never got easy. But…

I’m a working mom. It’s what I’ve always known. It’s a part of who I am.

I got pregnant a second time and I went into labor while I was at work with my second child. I left work early and my baby was born a few hours later.

I, again, went back to work 12 weeks after my daughter’s birth. Women said, again, they were surprised to see me return to work. What is curious about this is that no one is ever surprised that a father is keeping his job after a child is born. What is really confusing, though, is that if I had to work to support my family with only one child, why on Earth would I not need to work when I now had double the mouths to feed? I found a new normal as a mom of two. Not just a mom, but a working mom who was trying to juggle the time after work and on weekends with both of my children. It never got easy. But…

I’m a working mom. It’s what I’ve always known. It’s a part of who I am.

So, I became frustrated last weekend when I began to struggle with the fact that my children were staying overnight with their grandparents. I began having anxiety because I was going to be away from them for a day and a half. And I knew I was going to miss them like crazy.

I’m a working mom. It’s what I’ve always known. It’s a part of who I am.

So, why is it still so hard to leave them when I’ve been doing this five days a week since they were 12 weeks old?

My husband had planned a fantastic date night. A matinee show at the symphony and then dinner and drinks afterward. Then back home where we would have the house to ourselves and be able to turn the TV up as loud as we want and have an uninterrupted night of sleep. This sounds sweet and wonderful and perfect. But, yet, I was struggling with leaving my children. I began to attempt to cram all of the activities I would normally do in the two day weekend into one day. There was playing in the snow, a snow flake craft, hot cocoa. Dress-up, puzzles, board games. And since I was unable to send my daughter to preschool this year (because I’m a working mom) we also had our letter Q activities to finish for the week. We had a lot of fun but I also noticed I had begun to get short and cranky with everyone because it was getting hard to fit two days into one day.

I suppose I was having this internal struggle because my time with my girls is just so short already. It’s not that I feel guilty for working. In part, I need to work but I also want to work so I can continue my career as a nurse. I know that is what’s right for my family. I don’t feel guilty for going out on a date either. Whether your days are spent at work or home, we all need time with just our spouse, our friends, ourselves. There’s no question about this.

I think the part that’s frustrating is that I expect an evening out to be easy on me since I’m so used to saying goodbye to my girls. After all, I say goodbye to them most mornings when I leave for work. But there is often a specific reason to go out. A success at work to celebrate, a birthday, a friend needing support. But this time. This time, there was no specific reason. Just a date. An opportunity to have adult conversation without cleaning up spilled milk. A chance to call one another by our birth names and not mommy and daddy.

But I still struggle. I struggle with leaving them for yet another time. I wish I didn’t. I wish I didn’t feel like I needed to cram all our activities into one day. I wish I didn’t start to have anxiety in the middle of our board game. But I do. Maybe some day I will master the art of balance. Or invent a machine that allows me to be in three places at once.

Whether I find balance or that machine, I know sometimes I’m going to struggle. Whether it’s a morning when a child is clinging to my leg, telling me she doesn’t want me to leave for work. Whether it’s while I’m standing in a never-ending line at the grocery, knowing my toddler is waking up from her nap and will be looking for me. Whether it’s going out of town for a week long trip with no kids to celebrate an anniversary. Or if it’s just a date to the symphony. I’m going to struggle. I’m a mom. And my heart and mind are with my kids, always wanting to do best for them.

The kids were so excited when I told them they were going to their grandparents they asked to leave early. And once we were out on our date, my struggle with going out and my anxiety totally evaporated. Because I know, without a doubt, motherhood and work are only a part of me. And the other things that my family and I do are a part of who we are too and what is best for us.

I’m a working mom. It’s what I’ve always known. It’s just a part of who I am.

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11 thoughts on “I Still Struggle With Date Night

  1. The part I struggle with during date nights is the immediate part when we say good bye, because my two younger ones will still cry and get upset that they’re left behind. Otherwise, I think of a date as a legitimate reason to spend time with my husband. Just as you said there are other occasions—a wedding, a meeting, etc that you have to go to—consider your partner as another obligation as well.

  2. You are absolutely right, Nina! Time with our spouses strengthens our relationships and it’s very important. It’s definitely why I pushed through those emotions to go out (and had a great time too!). My girls are 2 and 4 so they still go back and forth between crying when I leave. I’m glad that they were excited to spend time with their grandparents most recently because if they were crying, it may have been too much. Thanks for the encouragement to go out on a date! 🙂

  3. I use to struggle as well with date night when my kids were smaller. Now that they are bigger and understand that its important for mommy and daddy to have one on one time its a lot easier. It also makes it easier if they LOVE their baby sitter and consider date-night fun for them!

    1. It’s nice to hear that it may get easier as they get older! My girls are definitely too young right now to understand that I need time out with their dad. Thankfully, they do love to spend special time with their grandparents – which definitely makes going out at least doable at this time.

  4. I struggle with this even when I take time with my girlfriends! Being a working mom I have so little time with my child anyway! So I make plans, dread when the day arrives, secretly wish they’d cancel…and always have a fabulous time and come back recharged. For the same reason, plus the cost, we don’t have many date nights. Sometimes we take a day off work to spend together while our daughter is in day care. Oddly we don’t feel bad about that!! Probably because it’s part of her routine.

  5. Stumbled across your blog. This was exactly what I needed to read! I am a working mom. I don’t have the “option” to be a SAHM. My husband and I both work, and my grandma stays at home with our daughter. Our daughter LOVES GG. Sometimes–most times, when I get home from work and want to cuddle and play with my daughter, she will chose GG over me. It hurts. I end up resenting my grandma for my daughter “loving her more than me”. My husband and I rarely go on date nights–and when we do, i feel guilty for leaving our daughter. I think, “god, i was gone all day at work, and i already don’t get that much time with her, and now i’m leaving to go out to dinner, it’s not fair.” I feel guilty all the time for working–for thinking that no wonder she clings to GG so much–she has her 10 hours of the day, and i get her 4 hours before it’s bedtime.
    Anyway, i can go on forever, but i’m just so happy to see that I’m not the only one with the “working mom struggle”. I can’t wait to read more.

    1. Nope, Megan, you’re definitely not alone! Being a working mom is a tough business. The plus side of your situation is your daughter is obviously very happy with the person you have decided to place in her care and there is nothing more important than that to a working mom. And the number of hours your with your daughter are not important – it is how you spend your time! Always remember that and that she knows she only has one mama! Hang in there!

  6. I just came across this because my baby is 8 months, been working full time since 4 months and will be the first time I miss her bedtime this week and I’m having a hard time with it. Since she’s little and doesn’t nap well at daycare I pick her up around 5pm and she’s tired and ready for bedtime routine at 6:15pm – asleep by 6:45. Hubby usually gets her ready and reads a story but then mama bear swoops in for cuddles, nursing, and I rub her back and sing her a bedtime song before putting her to bed. Now my MIL gets to do it and I’m so jealous and sad that I won’t be there. I already only get like 1.5 hrs with her only a day- sometimes don’t even see her in the am since I leave for work. Does it get easier for working moms? How do people do it? I can’t imagine leaving for even a weekend! I never see her as it is- this was the main reason I talked about not wanting kids – why have them if you never see them anyway!!?? :(. Struggling over here.

    1. Jamie, I am so sorry to hear about your struggle. I always like to say ‘it doesn’t get easier, it gets different.’ But in your case – I do actually think it’ll get easier. Kids don’t need that much sleep forever and, in time, your little one will be able to tolerate a later bedtime so you get more time with her in the evenings. If I’m being honest, mine go to bed a little after 8:00 and I still find it hard to find time to fit in everything I want to do with them; but in the end we have found a good routine and our time in the evenings and on weekends spent together and incredibly special. When mine were as young as your daughter, it was pretty rare for me to go out. As they have gotten older and older, it is easier to go out on a date – and we have even gone on long trips. Not that I still don’t struggle, at times, today as I did when I wrote this 2 years ago – but it is not AS hard and I know how important it is for me to have time away – not working and not being a mom. Hang in there, mama, and know you’re doing an awesome job!

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