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Date Night After Kids (in GIFs)

Someone once told me the secret to a strong marriage was to never stop dating your spouse. While this might sound like something once-single women would pin to their wedding inspiration Pinterest boards, I see the truth in it, post-matrimony.

Before kids, going on a date is either an attempt to connect with someone new, or a way to enjoy some time with someone you already know and love. After you have kids, date night feels more like catching a break—from parenting.

When I do get the chance to spend time out with my husband, it often feels like a mist has lifted. I see the man—not the dad—for the first time in weeks or months. Here are some other ways date nights have changed for me, in GIFs.

1. Getting ready

Before kids:

Endless hours! There was time to fluff your hair and make sure your lipstick was perfect. You might have tried on a few outfits before deciding on the one that would help you make an entrance. You might have even had time for a fresh mani and pedi.

After kids:

Can I wear yoga pants? If you're like me, you have a section of your closet dedicated to your pre-mom clothes. All my nice outfits require extra effort. Heels! Makeup! Hair! Most of the time, I just don't have the energy. Are we even going somewhere fancy? Alas, once in a while, you do need to pull out all the stops and amaze your date with a vision of your former self, just so that they (and especially you) don't forget.

2. Location

Before kids:

You'd like to be dazzled, but mostly you want romance. What are we going to do? Concert, theatre, a new restaurant? Maybe our night will end with us dancing in the rain or something else I once saw in "The Notebook."

After kids:

Are the kids asleep? Takeout and Netflix are the way to my heart, husband. The reality is that it can be hard to find a babysitter, which makes for frequent date nights in your living room after 7 p.m. In the event you do manage to have a pre-kids quality date with your other half, you'll enjoy it to the fullest, because you know they're rare.

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3. What's on the Menu

Before kids:

The possibilities are endless! Before we were parents, my husband and I once drove an hour away just to visit a place known for stellar hot wings. We made a day of it (and they were worth the trip). How about an evening of French cuisine and wine pairings? Or going out for drinks and ending up eating pizza at 2 a.m. somewhere?

After kids:

I'd like one giant glass of wine, thank you.

4. The Post-Date

Before kids:

You might end the night with a kiss, or perhaps something more. Oh, the mystery of it all!

After kids:

We have to think of our teeth. While I actually do brush my teeth next to my husband, what you do after your date (after children), depends on you. Whatever you do, you might be interrupted with the cries of a toddler who just had a bad dream. You might come back to find your husband already asleep. You might scroll the Internet on your phone until you pass out. Not that this has happened to me.

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