chore dates.

April 4, 2016

date night | reading my tea leaves
James and I started a new approach to dating. And it’s amazing.

Yes: we’re married. But it’s nice to date your husband, if you know what I mean.

And in true marital fashion, lately we’ve been going on Chore Dates. I know. They sound SO FUN. And they are. 

Here’s how they work: We spend the first hour tackling a chore of some kind and the second hour celebrating our accomplishment.

More details: The chore is something that we’ve been needing to do together, but that’s been hard to find the time to do quietly in the evening with a sleeping baby just a thin, thin door away. Or the chore is a task that needs undivided attention even if a nap ends abruptly. Or it’s something that’s been hard to rally the energy for after the tenth reading of Madeline.

Whatever the chore, we do our best to be realistic about how long it might take so that we don’t sabotage our actual date. That means something like repainting the whole apartment would be out of the question, but hanging a new light fixture would be totally doable. We’ve been planning these dates as early evening affairs so that if need be Faye can be out and about with a babysitter in case there’s something we need to get done at home.

The very best part is that the chore/date combo means that there’s incentive to get through the chore efficiently because you’re anticipating the fun of the date. And on the flipside, once the chore part is done the date feels extra well-deserved because you’ve just checked something off your list. It’s like a little reward for what we’ve just accomplished! It’s the over-achiever’s date night dream come true! 
date night | reading my tea leavesHere are examples of chore dates we’ve been on so far, just to give you a sense of how this goes down:

Date #1:

First 1/2:
Meet at home
Dissassemble and drag old mattress, box spring, and bed frame down many flights of stairs. Manage not to fall down stairs or insult one another’s physical strength.
Put together new bed frame. Manage to do it right the first time, without hissing.
Set up the new mattress. Still no hissing.
Run, literally, out of the door so that Faye can return in time for dinner/bath. Adrenaline rush.
Second 1/2:
Oysters/Dinner. All at the same place, all in an hour. Home before bedtime. To sleep in a newly set-up bed.

Date #2:

First 1/2:
Meet at a coffee shop on the LES. Manage both to arrive on time.
Seal, sign, deliver electronically our taxes. Have only temporary existential crisis about careers/future/bank accounts.
Begin to hatch plans for summer travel. Have another existential crises about careers/future/bank accounts.
Second 1/2:
Split small plates/gawk at stuffed game on walls/eavesdrop on tourists. Subway. Home just after bedtime.

You guys? Already doing this?

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  • Reply Erin April 4, 2016 at 9:11 am

    We don’t already do this but, it sounds like a good way to motivate (bribe) my husband into us getting the backyard cleaned up!

  • Reply Mara Robinson April 4, 2016 at 9:24 am

    Hi Erin,
    I’ve been dating my husband (minus the chores) since our first of two beautiful babies was born – 6 years ago now.
    ‘Date your husband’ was advice I was given when I was in my early 20’s by a middle aged couple with 4 children… who were the happiest I’d ever met.

    We do not have family neat by, so we went on a search to find a nanny. We met an amazing girl who takes care of our 2 little ones every Tursday night and the ritual has kept our relationship strong and ‘young’.

    I love the idea of incorporating chores into our dates.. Starting this week that’s exactly what I will do- thanks for the inspiration.

  • Reply Jo April 4, 2016 at 9:27 am

    Not formally but I have really been appreciating how connected I feel to my husband when we work jointly on chores recently. When you have a young baby it’s so easy to divvy up responsibilities and perform them separately. Before we had our son we did so much more of the exciting AND mundane together. We recently spent a weekend de-cluttering and it felt awesome to work together on a very normal task… and we enjoyed some lovely wine to celebrate after of course.

    • Reply Emily April 5, 2016 at 10:46 am

      Yes to this, a thousand times! It’s crazy how that shift happens after having a baby. I stay home now and any time I find my husband cooking in the kitchen with me, it is so glorious! I remember a time when that was a nightly ritual. I miss it so much. Teamwork looks different for us now and I don’t always like how it shakes out.

  • Reply Carol April 4, 2016 at 9:34 am

    Thanks for the bright word pictures! So human!

  • Reply Kim April 4, 2016 at 9:44 am

    I’m already doing the “have temporary existential crisis about careers/future/bank accounts” part! Does that count? Just kidding. Love this idea!

    • Reply Erin Boyle April 4, 2016 at 10:36 am

      Hahaha! Gotta get on the second part. Everything in balance 😉

  • Reply ladylyn April 4, 2016 at 10:07 am

    Funny how taxes and travel plans bring up the same crises. :p Happens to us too.

  • Reply Ashley April 4, 2016 at 10:24 am

    I love this idea! It’s SUPER important to never stop “dating” your significant other, and this is a great way to keep the romance alive while still getting things done. I am so on board.

  • Reply jenn April 4, 2016 at 10:40 am

    I’ve been “dating” my husband once a month since well before we got married… A date can be trying out a Michelin star restaurant we have been saving up for, getting take-out from the shady Caribbean place that’s been in the neighborhood for decades, grabbing the best finger food from Zabar’s and eating it on a park bench in Central Park, or whatever else we want to do. If we forget or don’t have time for a date one month, we splurge on the next one. This past January we used Christmas money plus 2 months of dates to do a “stay-cation” at The Standard with an evening strolling through The Whitney and dinner at Untitled. MOST EXPENSIVE DATE EVER (but so fun). Inevitably the rest of our dates for the year will likely be Indian take-out, but seriously, who can deny any opportunity for Indian food?

  • Reply Erin April 4, 2016 at 10:44 am

    I created date night sticks out of Popsicle sticks, I wrote different activities on them like take a cooking class, visit a museum, dinner and a movie out – not on the couch, etc. We pick out a stick at the beginning of the month and then schedule a date night or day. It has worked great and encourages us to try new things!

  • Reply amanda April 4, 2016 at 11:40 am

    I love this so much! My fiance and I don’t have children, so there is admittedly more free time (and no one whose precious sleep our chores might wake), but we have come to really look forward to our weekly chore activities together, making them feel like dates in their own rite. A weekly drive to the Brooklyn Whole Foods for a grocery haul with a special snack to enjoy on the car ride home, our Sunday morning walk to drop off compost. These small rituals feel really intimate and date-like, even though we’re rarely showered for either (ha!).

  • Reply Sydni April 4, 2016 at 11:42 am

    My husband would like this. He is always trying to schedule time with me to do chores/tasks. I don’t like it – I’m like, if we need to hang a picture on the wall, let’s just randomly do it one night after dinner. But that never happens. Adding the date part in after the task would be a good incentive for me!

  • Reply Ashley April 4, 2016 at 11:44 am

    Great idea, although we usually try to reward ourselves with *something* after getting a daunted task done, I love to plan things and think this would be a great idea. We are doing the taxes for our business this Wednesday afternoon, and then going to a Yoga class together Wednesday evening … so I am going to make that our Date #1!

  • Reply Cynthia April 4, 2016 at 12:05 pm

    This is genius, Erin! Based on the pictures and your gawking at taxidermy comment, I think you went to Freeman. Love that place.

    • Reply Erin Boyle April 4, 2016 at 12:16 pm

      Yes! Freemans!

  • Reply Melanie April 4, 2016 at 12:15 pm

    I bribe my husband subtlety with bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches sneaked in while he’s still sleeping to get him to do housework. We eat our breakfast first then get down to the chore! =)

  • Reply Libby April 4, 2016 at 12:16 pm

    I love this.
    This weekend my husband and I set up our new bed, too! It felt so good.
    I love the feeling of accomplishing something with him. I love that we did it together. But I hate that when it’s done, then it’s done and then we both just keep going on with normal stuff when I’m still in this connected-to-you feeling. So, I love the idea of considering it a date and keeping it going.

  • Reply Ashley April 4, 2016 at 12:34 pm

    Glad to know I’m not the only one for whom taxes become and existential crisis!

  • Reply Lissa April 4, 2016 at 1:30 pm

    Love this Erin!I think Alex and I have been on 3 dates since Owynn’s been born and yikes thats not a lot considering he is 2 and half. So thanks for the inspiration and great ideas!

  • Reply Lara April 4, 2016 at 2:33 pm

    Yes! We have been doing #2 for a couple of years now, with a focus on “existential crisis about careers/future/bank accounts.” Haha- we usually take a laptop to the bar to help ourselves feel productive, and ‘work’ on calenda and googldocs for about an hour with a drink, and then hop to a restaurant to talk about other things! So fun to hear you have also discovered your version of this, great minds!

  • Reply Heather April 4, 2016 at 2:33 pm

    That first photo makes me really happy. 🙂

  • Reply Wendy D April 4, 2016 at 3:20 pm

    We do a “trader Jo’s” date early Saturday mornings. First 1/2 – walk on the trails in Austin by the “lake” and talk all sorts of plans, then (2nd half) head in to TJs for a sample mini coffee and grocery shopping. Head home to the kids and start a family day. It’s become a Saturday tradition!

  • Reply Jessica April 4, 2016 at 4:07 pm

    I love the idea of chore dates, thank you for sharing. I think you mentioned you might be, but I hope you also do share your experience with picking a mattress. I’d love your thoughts on this topic!

  • Reply Laura F April 4, 2016 at 4:48 pm

    I am so curious to hear what you have to say about mattresses! Please write about it soon! We are ready to make the leap to a queen after many years in a cozy double and I am having an existential crisis about a mattress purchase. I was confident in my choice to spend the money on a Naturpedic for our baby (bought second-hand after hearing you did so, by the way!), but the cost for ourselves seems exorbitant. What to do?

    • Reply Erin Boyle April 4, 2016 at 5:03 pm

      Will write soon, though I’m trying hard to do an honest test-drive of a mattress before making any bold claims;) I will say that I HEAR you. The price was a huge factor for us, and we ended up going with a much more affordable version for our bed that was still free of the most egregious offenders (formaldehyde, chemical flame-retardants, etc.) More in a few weeks once we’ve had the chance to test ‘er out!

      • Reply Lissa April 18, 2016 at 11:30 am

        Yes! I came to ask the same question. My husband and I have been in the market for a more non-toxic mattress and are anxious to make the change. Looking forward to your review / thoughts.

  • Reply rita April 4, 2016 at 7:22 pm

    ah! we planned our wedding this way – we never felt like hashing out the details and logistics so we would go to our favorite restaurant, sit at the bar and crank out the details. we couldn’t order till we’d accomplished our goals, which made us quite efficient!

    we should start doing this again with house tasks… we’re really good about talking about them – not so good about getting them done! 🙂

    • Reply Erin Boyle April 5, 2016 at 10:58 am

      oh man, *wish* we’d done more of this when planning our wedding. we mostly just avoided planning until the last minute! whoops.

  • Reply Ali April 4, 2016 at 7:49 pm

    Once a month, one of us plans a date night for the other. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but it is a surprise. I brought my husband to a burger and beer pairing at our local brewery. The other weeks, we pair our grocery shopping with a dinner date. It’s fun.

  • Reply abby April 4, 2016 at 9:13 pm

    We do this too! The idea of rolling a date into a chore, or a chore into a date totally put me off at first. But the treat factor really does make a difference in getting certain projects done that have been put off for too long. It’s actually started to make certain chores feel more fun. We’re in it together! And sometimes just the resulting completion of the chore is treat enough. We don’t have kids, but we both have busy lives that leave little extra time and energy for less focal things. Rearranging how the extra time and energy is used is such a game changer. I love that you spotlighted this. You guys make a great team.

    • Reply Erin Boyle April 4, 2016 at 9:17 pm

      Yes: in it together!

  • Reply Mun April 5, 2016 at 2:49 am

    A fun concept that turns chores into something romantic. Using this on husband this week ahaha!

  • Reply Meredith April 5, 2016 at 9:06 am

    We do this too, and funny enough last week the chore was mattress shopping!

  • Reply Nuraan April 5, 2016 at 3:32 pm

    Brilliant idea 🙂 need to try this!

  • Reply Kat April 5, 2016 at 7:01 pm

    My boyfriend and I do the university version of this: Study dates! The part about the “over-achiever’s date night dream-come-true”–SO. TRUE. It looks like this might be an adult skill we’ve stumbled upon, reading everyone else’s comments haha (:

  • Reply Francesca April 6, 2016 at 11:54 am

    About a year ago my husband and I decided to alternate “my weekend, your weekend.” Whoever’s weekend it is decides what we do, eat, etc. Works for us and is amazing for our relationship. I am a list person that involves a lot of “to dos”. My husband is a nap, chili, watch football kind of person. We get a lot more accomplished now and are happier than ever.

  • Reply Jessica April 7, 2016 at 9:43 am

    What a fantastic idea! My husband and I seem to have no struggle with the date part — but the chore piece is another story. Love the idea of adding an incentive to do those things that really do need to be done together.

  • Reply Annabel April 11, 2016 at 10:44 pm

    Erin, I love this idea. Thank you for sharing plus it fits in nicely with our goal to have experienced rather than buying things. We’re just in the process of moving and once we’re settled I’ll give this a shot. Thank you.

  • Reply Dottie Louise April 12, 2016 at 2:01 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing this, this is such a wonderful idea! Chore dates, so clever! I can’t wait to see how many things my husband and I get done that we’ve been putting off! This would also be great for an individual too – something they’ve been putting off or dreading doing but then rewarding themselves afterwards with a coffee shop visit or something.

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