A day trip to Montreal & a few cheap date night options

Over the weekend Mer and I were treated to a day off so we could head out on an adventure just the two of us. We’re really strange when it comes to spending time away from Margs. We often complain that we need a break but when a break is so generously offered to us all we can think about is rushing through our “free” time so we can be reunited with Margs.

One weekend a few months back we literally drove around aimlessly because we had no idea what to do with ourselves while Margs spent the afternoon with her grandparents. She adores being there because she gets spoiled rotten so we have absolutely no excuse for not relaxing and enjoying our time away. I’m embarrassed to admit that we ended up doing our weekly grocery and running a few errands that day- exciting stuff hunh?

Mer surprised me this weekend by organizing babysitting with his parents so we could do something together. He knew I’d had a rough week and that my anxiety was running pretty high so he decided we’d take a break and do something fun.

He came up with a plan to drive a few hours to Montreal so that we’d be forced to enjoy our time away from Margs and not pull our usual stunt and rush back to pick her up.

It was so so nice to spend the day exploring the city despite the freezing cold.

ramen-misoya-montreal

Our first stop was Misoya Ramen on Bishop street. Mer had a visa gift card that he’d received from work for his birthday that we never got around to using so he decided we’d go out for lunch. We’d been wanting to try Ramen for the first time and figured Sunday was a perfect opportunity to do so since there were so many great Ramen shops around. We also rarely eat out so it was an extra special treat. We really scaled back on eating restaurant food way back when we were tackling our debt problem and we’ve gotten so used to eating at home that we rarely order in or eat out – we’ve sort of eliminated it from  our lifestyle. So, this was an extra fun opportunity to eat delicious food and catch up on non-parenting things.

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It was delicious!

We purposely ordered different bowls so we could share. I went with a Komemiso broth (savoury) while Mer opted for a Momemiso (full bodied flavor). They were both quite good although my Komemiso was a tad saltier than I would have liked so if we had to repeat this meal I’d opt for the Momemiso instead. I plan to try and recreate this meal at home in the near future – I’m researching how to put together the broth because there’s got to be a way to recreate this meal without paying restaurant prices.<—– frugal mindset folks.

Why date nights saved my marriage

During the time we were trying to conceive, Mer and I really struggled. We love each other dearly but grieving and the heartache of losing 3 pregnancies really took its toll on our relationship. Mer often felt like he couldn’t grieve because he needed to support me in my grief (disclosed to me in therapy). There were times that we felt like our lives were consumed with trying to conceive and we really forgot to nurture our relationship and focus on rebuilding and rekindling the “us” which felt lost in this world of medical intervention and timed intercourse. It was really hard and at some points I questioned if our relationship would survive. Our day to day life just felt so incredibly scheduled and forced.

It survived, thanks to our therapist who suggested we go on date nights to help refocus our energy on rebuilding the parts of our relationship that were broken down from years of heartache and loss. She suggested we schedule time to get to know each other again (because life experiences shaped and changed us along the way) and focus on strengthening our relationship by having fun which sadly really wasn’t part of our lives for such a long long time.

Thankfully, we stuck to it and we really enjoy our special time together whether that be once per week or once per month (now, we aim for once per month). We shut off our phones, we don’t check facebook, instagram or twitter and just spend time catching up on things that we might not get the time to discuss on a day to day basis. It’s really quite amazing how much goes unsaid when you’re busy tending to a house, a job, a kid and other adult responsibilities so it was so so nice to catch up.

Date nights are expensive though or at least initially they were. When we scaled back our monthly budget we feared that we’d have to eliminate our date nights altogether because spending 50$+ at a restaurant just wouldn’t work for us anymore. We came up with a few budget friendly date nights that we not only really enjoy but work well with our budget and frugal lifestyle.

A few tips to enjoy your date night without spending a fortune

datenight

Change your date night mind set. Date nights don’t have to cost money. This is where we struggled in the beginning – what are 2 people supposed to do without spending cash? Well, we got creative and we found a bunch of fun, entertaining and otherwise awesome activities to do on date nights without spending much money. Walks, hikes, skating, swimming, free music festivals, free comedy shows, free firework displays, free cooking lessons – there are so many options out there that don’t require you spend a ton of money – often you can even find free options. We researched a ton and explored what was available to us in our area. Since moving, we’ve actually made a bunch of new friends by attending various free activities offered by our township. We love finding new things to do and often Mer will send me an email letting me know that he found something super cool for us to do together. Just yesterday he let me know that there’s a free tour of a local museum – we’ve penciled that in for our next date night.

Get moving – We were stuck in a very conservative mindset that date nights had to include dinner and a movie because that’s what we used to do when we dated before getting married. As much as I like to dine out and catch a movie, these activities get pricey and catching a movie actually prevents us from connecting and chatting which is the point of “dating” anyway. So,we’ve made a conscious effort to try things like walking, hiking, swimming and biking together. I can’t tell you how much fun we have biking through small rural towns about an hour away from where we live. We drive down dirt roads and revel at the beauty of the country side. Mer actually installed a large wicker basket on my bike so I can haul a small picnic with us – it’s such a fun and inexpensive way to spend some quality time together.

Enjoy each other – we tend to focus on picking dates that maximize the amount of quality time we spend together without distraction. Our daily lives are quite busy and leave little time to just sit and “be” so we tend to opt to do things that offer us an opportunity to talk and communicate. For us, enjoying each other can come in the form of sitting by a bonfire, sipping a beer and just chatting or taking a long walk through the forest behind our home. Thankfully we’ve been able to create a separation between the belief that spending money on elaborate evenings out is the only way to date thus focusing on quality time instead which often costs no money at all.

Plan & Budget ahead – we do spend money on dates occasionally. Although we’d much prefer to have a free date that’s just not always possible. Last summer for example there was a new restaurant opening up in our town and we decided that we’d love to attend the opening. So, we budgeted ahead and set aside a small amount of cash to allow for this luxury. More often than not, every third date costs us a little cash. By budgeting ahead and planning for it we’re far more conscious of how much we spend when out and enjoy this extra luxury so much more.

What some of our date nights have looked like

  • Walks through the forest with steaming cups of homemade hot chocolate
  • Drives to our favorite spot in gorgeous St-Donat to walk the lakefront beach
  • Watching free fireworks competitions while munching on homemade appetizers
  • Staying in and cooking an awesome meal together with no phones, t.v or other distractions (the last time we did this we experimented with different types of curry)
  • Skating on a frozen pond (I’m clumsy and can’t really skate but Mer holds my hand and we have a few good laughs)
  • Free outdoor music festivals in the warm summer months
  • Sipping wine by our homemade fire pit in the backyard
  • Renting a pedal boat at a local beach and spending hours floating and chatting (approx 5$)
  • Thrifting without actually buying anything. Mer and I are both history buffs so we love visiting thrift shops and antique shops to discuss the treasures we come across.
  • Pick your own produce in the summer. We love to spend days at a local farm supplementing our garden goods. We once spent an entire day picking broccoli rab to freeze for the winter.

Do you make time for dates with your partner?

What’s the most recent “date” you’ve been on?

Any cheap and budget friendly date ideas you’d like to add to the list?

 

 

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  1. January 18, 2017 / 9:02 am

    I go out to eat each week with my husband, and while it’s sort of a necessity (I mean we have to eat!) we goof around the whole time. We’ll play games with straw paper or notice celebrity doppelgangers.

    • January 18, 2017 / 3:27 pm

      I love this. Goofing around is so fun. The doppelgangers made me laugh because we thought we saw Dustin Hoffman on night – I’m telling you Mer and I were both CONVINCED it was him. It turned out it wasn’t and I’ll spare you the embarrassing details about how we found out 🙂

      • January 18, 2017 / 3:29 pm

        We also see “celebrity love children” like weird mixes of different people. 😉

        • January 18, 2017 / 8:20 pm

          I LOVE this! I’m totally stealing this idea!

  2. January 18, 2017 / 9:21 am

    Making time together since we had the baby has been a challenge for us, especially since we don’t have family close by to watch the baby for us. It is my goal for the New Year to make an effort to spend more quality time with my husband. We used to play a lot more games, I taught him how to play chess and we love playing card games.

    • January 18, 2017 / 3:28 pm

      We’re incredibly lucky to have our family close enough to where we live. Is babysitting an option for you guys?

  3. January 18, 2017 / 9:24 am

    You guys are so sweet to each other, I’m really glad your relationship made it through the hard times. Me and my boyfriend Alexander have been living together for 4 years and also had the struggle to make time to ‘date’ sometimes. Surprisingly our fav dates are usually the ones that did not cost us any money at all. In the summer time we would pack up some fruit boxes and sandwiches and go to parks to read, eat and take naps under a sunny spot together.. sounds weird I know haha but people do that here in Sweden. In the fall we would pack up some coffee or tea and bring it to the forrest to go mushroom hunting, or sit together in a bench in the park, wrapped up together in a big scarf to read and talk. Lately in the terrible weather we’ve been going to the gym together (since we paid for it anyway) and spend time in the jacuzzi and sauna there. Maybe I will write a post like this in the future as well 🙂 Thanks for sharing

    • January 18, 2017 / 2:01 pm

      I think going to read and eat and nap in a park sounds absolutely lovely! My husband isn’t much of a reader, but we’ll go to the beach so I can read and he can fish. We’ll mix it up a bit and play a little catch until he gets too tired or hot and then we can play in the water if it’s warm enough and I haven’t had any jellyfish sightings!

      • January 18, 2017 / 2:47 pm

        Fishing sounds really fun! My boyfriend is really keen to try it this summer. Do you think it’s a hobby that going to cost a lot?

        • January 18, 2017 / 3:17 pm

          It can if you try to get fancy with a big fishing pole and bait and all that. But it can be done very inexpensively too. Definitely start out small to see if it’s something you’ll stick with before investing a lot of money into it.

          • January 18, 2017 / 3:48 pm

            alright we will probably stick to the inexpensive options :p I was just wondering… The activity itself sounds quite pleasurable being in the nature and water, but what do you do after you catch the fish? No one eats fish in my household and I will probably be horrified a struggling fish :p sorry if I sound ridiculous.

          • January 18, 2017 / 4:08 pm

            We’ve never caught a fish lol

          • January 18, 2017 / 4:22 pm

            oh alright haha, that solves the problem :p

          • January 18, 2017 / 4:09 pm

            But if you do, you just unhook it and throw it back.

      • January 18, 2017 / 8:10 pm

        If you live in a colder climate you can try cross country skiing. Mer and I picked up used skiis at a garage sale for 5$ a set one summer. Super cheap investment and really fun outing!

    • January 18, 2017 / 3:30 pm

      Thank you 🙂

      I love all your ideas and you’re 100% right, sometimes you enjoy yourself most when you spend absolutely no money. I love the gym idea! It’s brilliant!

  4. January 18, 2017 / 9:55 am

    Hi, I’m from the UK, but I went to Montreal too during a trip to Canada several years ago.

    We do the cooking together date night thing as well. In the UK, you can get a spice box subscription, which means you get the hard-to-find ingredients delivered to your door, and then you just have to buy the groceries for the curry. You can see the last one here: https://unseen-beauty.com/2017/01/17/spice-box/

    I agree, going out for dinner is nice, but the most important thing is spending some quality time together.

    • January 18, 2017 / 8:11 pm

      A spice box is such a lovely idea!!!

      It’s also neat that you visited Montreal, did you enjoy it?

      • January 19, 2017 / 4:02 am

        Yes we had a lot of fun and travelled around, visiting Montreal, Quebec and Toronto. That was before I met my partner, so it would be nice to come back some day with him.

        • January 20, 2017 / 2:37 pm

          Awesome! Glad you enjoyed it!

  5. January 18, 2017 / 10:25 am

    I totally agree that date nights are important to a marriage, but I think they are especially important after having a child. My husband and I try to make sure that we still make time for date nights even with having two little ones. This week we hired a sitter for 2 hours so that I could drive out to meet him to have lunch just us two. We had a great time being able to talk without being interrupted. You’ve listed some great ideas for dates in this post.

    I’ve nominated you for the Blogger Recognition Award. Check it out here: https://ourlittlewaysblog.wordpress.com/2017/01/18/blogger-recognition-award-check-out-some-of-our-favorite-blogs/

    • January 18, 2017 / 8:12 pm

      I think lunch with your hubby is a wonderful idea. 2 hours may not seem like a ton of time but it can make a world of difference when you can just spend that time together. 🙂

      THANK YOU so much for the award. I don’t really know what to say. I’m shocked really. Thanks a million!!!

  6. January 18, 2017 / 12:24 pm

    This is so good! One of our goals this year was to be better at getting away together and working on “us”. It takes a lot more effort when you have three littles, but you’re right, it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, you just need to make it a priority.

    • January 18, 2017 / 8:13 pm

      I hope you plan to write about it! I’d be really interested to see how you two spend quality time together 🙂

  7. January 18, 2017 / 12:55 pm

    My husband and I are trying to start up our date nights again as well ☺ great suggestions. So far we’ve been out to see a movie since we haven’t done that in a long time while his parents babysit.

    • January 18, 2017 / 8:14 pm

      Movies can be fun from time to time! Have you ever been to a drive in movie? Those are especially neat because it’s just the two of you!

      • January 18, 2017 / 9:25 pm

        I’m. It sure we have a drive in theatre anymore here… although they do have outdoor free movies at a few parks in the summer ☺

        • January 20, 2017 / 2:36 pm

          Outdoor movies are a load of fun too!

  8. January 18, 2017 / 1:22 pm

    Love date nights! $5 Tuesdays are our go out to movie night, and sometimes we just chill at home and enjoy a quiet house when the kids are away. Thanks for sharing.

    • January 18, 2017 / 8:15 pm

      5$ is a great deal! You’re right, sometimes staying in to enjoy a QUIET night is perfect!

  9. January 18, 2017 / 1:53 pm

    I love your date night ideas. I’ll definitely be using some of those ideas in the future. Like you mentioned in your post, we tend to do a dinner and a movie dates out of habit, but I’d really love to get creative and do some more meaningful dates where we can really connect. Our last date was dinner and an ice hockey game, which was TONS of fun since it was my first time at an ice hockey game. We also recently went to the beach and sat and laid around chatting and snacking on some fruit and nuts I packed. He tends to want to constantly be on the go, and I’m more laid back and enjoy relaxing a bit more, so we balance between more active dates and then more relaxed ones.

    • January 18, 2017 / 8:16 pm

      Love hockey!! That’s such a great idea. I might steal that one from you since Mer is a huge hockey fan! Thanks for sharing!

  10. January 18, 2017 / 4:13 pm

    This is a fantastic post, some great ideas about date night ideas, such as cooking lessons, and movie night. You are right, it doesn’t have to cost a lot, as mentioned in one of my posts, we now preplan our dates just so we can have couple time. Thank you for liking my blog, I look forward to following your blog.

    • January 18, 2017 / 8:17 pm

      Thank you for stopping in! 🙂

  11. January 18, 2017 / 5:32 pm

    I love it. Your therapist was sooooo right. Your marriage needs attention and work, just like the kids. Great ideas here!

    • January 18, 2017 / 8:19 pm

      Yup. She was a god send. Honestly, I couldn’t have asked for a better therapist. I got lucky. With our health care system you don’t really get a choice of who you see. Instead, you’re matched with whoever is available. It turns out that my therapist was a loss mom too so she had a better understanding of what we were going through because she lived it herself. I’m so grateful to that woman!

  12. January 18, 2017 / 6:50 pm

    I really like the notion that being budget conscious needn’t kill all fun. Great post.

    • January 18, 2017 / 8:19 pm

      Thank you Chris!

  13. January 19, 2017 / 2:54 am

    Brilliant. Good for you!

  14. January 19, 2017 / 3:34 am

    Lovely blog. Courage, a strong work ethic, love and a sense of fun will take you where you need to be. You have all four in abundance. Keep writing.

    • January 20, 2017 / 2:36 pm

      Thank you for your kind words!

  15. January 19, 2017 / 6:02 pm

    I love this post! Too often people think a date has to be a big thing. My brother taught me that if you can live in the mundane with someone, then you can handle anything that life throws at you. Luckily, I met a man who still asks me out on dates! We have date night once a week, since he has to work a lot now, but that time is so valuable. Sometimes we just make dinner from home and create music. Other days we go out to a cafe and hold hands while reading. It is just about being with one another with intention. We know how precious our time is with one another, and it has made all the difference in our relationship. If he has to work a lot in a particular week, I leave him hidden notes of endearment to find in the morning before he heads to work. 🙂

    • January 20, 2017 / 2:44 pm

      So true. Thank you for sharing -these are awesome suggestions! I’m jealous that you create music together – that’s awesome!

  16. January 19, 2017 / 6:38 pm

    I absolutely love this idea. My boyfriend always has this attitude that we can’t do anything fun because we don’t have any money, and I think he’s dead wrong! Lately I’ve gotten him to do little things at home like play yahtzee or watch documentaries (our favorite), but he never seems to want to leave the house, especially now that it is cold out. Maybe I can show him a few of your fun ideas and get him motivated!

    • January 20, 2017 / 2:44 pm

      I hope this helps you two get out a little! Staying in is fun especially when it’s gold but changing it up and heading out every so often is important too!

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