When you live in a city without retired parents to help take care of your kids, daycare is a lifesaver. When you have time off of work, and want to squeeze in a few day dates with your husband, daycare is also a lifesaver. I didn’t always understand this, but I do now.
Back when I didn’t have a child and knew everything about parenting, I couldn’t understand why my friends with kids would ever want to send their children to daycare if they had time off during the week. I imagined myself one day being a mom and wanting to spend every waking moment with my sweet offspring. Sure, I could appreciate the fact that doing household errands without a toddler in tow would be much easier and could sympathize with spending a few hours apart with the sole purpose of getting chores done, but taking them to daycare just because? It didn’t make sense.
Well, my friends, things in my idyllic little universe have shifted ever so slightly and I have recently been enlightened. Before I go any further, I would like to offer a very sincere, blanket apology to all of the parents whose daycare-dropping motives I ever questioned. I understand. I have seen the error of my ways. Please forgive me for my trespasses against you. I don’t deserve amnesty for my crimes, but will forever seek it all the same.
Secondly, I would like to write a tiny disclaimer about my feelings towards my son. In case you couldn’t tell, I love that little stinker to the moon and back. I literally tell him, “You’re so cute I want to squeeze you until your guts shoot out your butt” at least 4 times per day. He is the person who makes me laugh without ever having to try, and the thing I created of which I am more proud than anything on this earth. If I could hang him up on my fridge and invite strangers over to dinner just so I could point at him and say, “LOOK WHAT I MADE! ISN’T IT PERFECT?” I would. But since that would be unsettling to others and is probably considered highly unethical, I have an Instagram account where I do basically that very thing but in a more socially acceptable way.
So you get it. I love my child.
And so do my friends. And all the other parents out there dropping their kids off at daycare even though they technically could be spending the day with them instead. I know this because I just did that very thing 3 times this week, and will be doing it again next week. Why on earth would I do something so heartless and cruel? Well, it’s not because I simply couldn’t stand another minute with my baby and needed to rid myself of his presence. I did it because I have two weeks off of work and pay for daycare by the month, so it kind of made sense financially.
In addition to that, my husband and I had really wanted to go on a vacation during my fall break from school but decided that paying our credit card bill was the more
boring responsible choice, so we stayed home. We also decided that since we haven’t been on many dates since our son was born 13 months ago, this might be our perfect opportunity. So that’s what we did. We dropped our little guy off at daycare after a few lovely, leisurely mornings together, and dated the crap out of each other all week. And it was amazing.
Monday was Thanksgiving, so we spent our day together as a family, doing very fun family things like grocery shopping and taking out the recycling. We also dreamed about our delicious Thanksgiving feast from the night before and started brainstorming ideas for our date the next day. The theme of our dates was simple: We wanted to do all the things we could think of that were not considered “family friendly”, or, at the very least, are much more relaxing to do without entertaining someone with a 4 minute attention span (no, not Stu – the baby). Here’s what we came up with.
Before having Beckett, Stu and I went to movies all the time. After B came along, we found it pretty hard to get to the theatre together and I was incredibly foolish and only took advantage of Stars and Strollers once during my mat leave. (Parents – go as often as you can before your babies are mobile and thank me for this hot tip later). Anyway. First on our list of must-do-baby-free-date week was a trip to the theatre. It didn’t really matter which movie, to be honest, but I chose The Girl on the Train and pre-ordered our tickets at what definitely needs to be hailed as the most amazing theatre in the entire city.
Even though we live on the south side of Calgary, we made the 20 minute trip to Country Hills to check out their theatre because a friend of mine told me how great it was. She was so, so right. Every seat in the theatre is either a recliner or loveseat (you can actually cuddle your date/have a way more convenient spot to put your popcorn) with a footrest. You can also preorder your seats so if you are chronically late to everything, like we are, you don’t have to worry. OH. They also have those amazing new pop machines with like forty thousand flavour combinations for your drink. Even though I rarely drink pop, I couldn’t resist. As an added bonus, it was Tuesday so our tickets were $8.25 each. Amazing!
OEB is a tiny and much-loved brunch spot that is always busy no matter what time you go there on the weekend. I adore it because their food is incredibly delicious and their coffee is so hot it burns the roof of your mouth if you don’t wait a minute (the only way to drink coffee, in my opinion). Another wonderful thing about this place is that they use the Nowait app so you can get in line virtually and arrive when your table is ready (why doesn’t everyone use this app? It’s probably one of the best apps ever created).
Even so, the wait can sometimes be over an hour because this place is so popular, so we figured that things would be slightly less crazy if we went on a Wednesday afternoon. Mostly, we were wrong. Even though the wait wasn’t too long, the place was still packed. Kids are welcome here, but it’s pretty close quarters, so squeezing Beckett in would have been a little challenging. This made it the perfect spot to have a kid-free brunch!
After brunch, we were driving around a little aimlessly, trying to think of what to do next with the afternoon that sprawled out before us and ended up deciding to do an Escape Room with some friends of ours. I’ve been wanting to try one for over a year, but babies are not typically the best problem solvers/critical thinkers and, for that reason among many others, they aren’t allowed in the rooms. While some of the clues for the theme we chose were pretty challenging (Stu says they were a little more disjointed than those he’s tried in other rooms), we still had a lot of fun trying to figure out how to make it out of our 5-room escape scenario in under an hour (it took us 1:07, but we were proud of ourselves all the same). When we were done we had only about 25 minutes to race to B’s daycare to pick him up before it closed. We got there with 6 minutes to spare and figured we should probably reward ourselves and our escape-mates for a job well done with some of my favourite Vietnamese food in Calgary (get the #17 – trust me).
For me, this was the date of all dates. On the list of my favourite things to spoil myself with, massages rank pretty high. Couples massages rank even higher – not because the experience itself is entirely romantic, but mostly because you can feel extra relaxed knowing that the person next to you is having their illusion of a romantic and relaxing 60 minutes shattered at the same time that you are while you simultaneously have the indestructible knots in your shoulders mercilessly pounded out by your respective RMTs.
We left our booking until the day before because individually, we are both horrible procrastinators, and as a team, well, we are even worse. We were trying to decide where to try and get a last minute booking when I stumbled upon my dream massage package, which happened to be offered by the Fairmont Palliser in downtown Calgary. I checked out their site not thinking that their rates would be anything we could afford, but was pleasantly surprised to find that they weren’t too bad at all. Luckily for us, we are able to claim our massages through our health insurance, which was an extra awesome bonus. The cherry on top was that I found a massage package that included High Tea afterwards (this part wasn’t covered – bummer).
AIEE! HIGH TEA! HOW FANCY! The best part was that Stu actually agreed (pretty enthusiastically, actually) to do it. We had such a nice afternoon sipping on tea and eating tiny little sandwiches and scones, followed by the actual desserts enjoyed by the Royal Family. It was so nice to be able to just sit and relax and eat and chat with each other. Our waitress was adorable and took about 46 photos of us until she finally felt happy with a few of them. Little old ladies sat at tables around us in giant pouffy armchairs while sipping tea and chasing it with wine. We definitely missed the “smart casual” dress code but weren’t made to feel out of place at all. High Tea is definitely something I would tell everyone they need to try at least once in their lives.
On Friday, we were supposed to head to Edmonton to see two of our beautiful friends get married. Unfortunately, the weather had other plans for us, and our trip was cancelled due to the poor highway conditions and the fact that we had anticipated that fall would last a bit longer and didn’t have our winter tires on yet. We decided to stretch our date week out a little further, but this time included Beckett in our plans. We decided to go swimming at the water park, where B had the time of his life getting tossed around with us in the waves and splashing in the kiddie pool. We are super excited to start him in swimming lessons in a few weeks!
Since the weather in Calgary is starting to get cooler, we thought we should squeeze in an afternoon at the Calgary Corn Maze before the snow is here to stay. We went with some friends of ours who have a 20 month-old and our little guys had a blast chasing around goats, playing in the pumpkin patch, going for pony rides and banging on cast-iron skillets. It was such a fun afternoon and we loved seeing what a different experience it was from last year when we took Beckett there at just a little over a month old.
This week has been such an important one for me, and it’s one that I will always look back on fondly. I loved spending time with Stu, just the two of us, like we did before we became parents. It was fun to have the days to ourselves to do things spontaneously and not worry about nap times, diaper changes, or kid-friendly activities that would be fun for us and our son. I loved doing things that we don’t ordinarily get to do without the fuss of trying to find someone to come babysit, since we already had that base covered. It was important for us to invest this time into each other and just enjoy one another’s company. I want these dates to become a more permanent fixture in our marriage, especially since I have seen how important this past week has been to both of us.
That being said, I also have realized how important it is to get out and do things together as a family. Sometimes it can be easier (and definitely cheaper) to just stay at home and let Beckett play with his toys while we supervise and have the TV on in the background. While there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s so much more exciting to watch our son explore all the things the world has to offer him that lay beyond our living room. I love watching him point at new things and say, “wow!” since this is something that I don’t often find myself doing as an adult. The world through a baby’s eyes is such a fascinating place, and sometimes I forget how wonderful it can really be.
So, moms and dads of the world, this very long post was basically my way of saying, hire that babysitter! Call your parents! Take up that offer your friend made 4 months ago to watch your kid sometime, and go on a date with your spouse! It may be a bit of work, but Netflix will still be there tomorrow it’ll be so so worth it for you today.