5 Ways to Avoid Paying a Babysitter for Your Date Night

Dollars & Sense on 08.31.11
Contributor bio | twitter

All photos: Frugal Mama

When I asked the circle of Parentables writers about cheap kid-free date night ideas, I got some pretty funny responses.

Andy Hinds responded right away, "You mean the kind where you leave the house? I wouldn't know about that."

Julie Douglas admitted that she and her husband joke about going to the restaurant around the corner with a baby monitor and "scanning the crowd for horrified faces."

"I was going to suggest walking around the block one time REALLY fast," replied Marla Garfield, "but Julie's suggestion is better because it involves food."

I laugh because, I get it. Paying for a babysitter just seems like a big deal. Logistically and economically. My husband and I are guilty of falling into the stay-at-home or bring-the-kids routine.

However it's no news flash that carving out some Q time with your main squeeze really pays off. Here are some more ideas from Parentables writers on how to do it without paying a couch-, I mean, baby-sitter.

1.  Super-Frugal Neighborliness

Brittany (a.k.a Pretty Handy Girl) takes turns with her neighbor going for a one hour walk once a week around the neighborhood. Talk about win-wins: they can skip the overpriced dessert and the personal trainer. For more on this concept, see Up Your Happiness and Save Money with a Babysitting Swap.

2. Play Hooky

Petes a Pizza in Tenleytown Washington DC

"My husband and I used to go on lunch dates once the kids were in school full-time," says Kelly Rossiter.  Lunch is cheaper, "even at high-end restaurants," says Kelly, so it's a great chance to try places you normally wouldn't dare.  Plus, a luxurious lunch is so old-school and decadent. Have a martini while you're at it, won't you?

3.  Eat and Run

Dinner with friends

Serve visiting relatives or friends a fantastic dinner, and after the kids are in bed, sneak off for a movie (when was the last time you did that?) This option works nicely if you have a guest room, but don't discount just asking a friend to watch TV on your couch, instead of his. 

4.  Send Your Kids to a Babysitting Party

Babysitting PartyA daytime babysitting playdate wouldn't interfere with bedtimes.

The brave shall be rewarded. John Cave Osborne reminded me of this so-crazy-it's-genius idea. Get together with a few other families and take turns watching all the kids in the group. 

If you trade with three other families, you're only on duty one night a month. Think of it this way: one night of bedlam is a small price to pay for all those peaceful dinners.

5.  In Your Own Backyard

Candlelit picnic

Why go to the park to enjoy the loveliness of dining al fresco with your sweetie? Julie Douglas suggests "assembling a gourmet candlelit picnic in your backyard" or patio. No 20% tips or $8 glasses of red wine will make the night even sweeter.

No excuses now! Get out there and enjoy yourselves. And have a decaf cappuccino on me.

Top Articles on Adult Time
10 Cheap and Easy Kid-Free Date Night Ideas
Plan a Weekend Getaway with the Girls -- You Won't Regret It
Schedule a Regular Date Night with Your Sweetie