I like nothing more than when people talk openly about personal finance stuff, so let’s do that here for a bit.
Last week my husband and I had our first overnight date in at least 3.5 years. I know having a date night is basic marriage advice 101 and I always enjoy going out with my husband, but can we talk about the reality of how much a big date costs, especially if you don’t have free childcare? Where we live, babysitting starts at like $10-12 an hour, unless you can find a 12 year old you trust who’ll only charge you $8, if you’re lucky. A standard dinner and movie date will probably cost you $50 for the babysitting alone, so you’re lucky if you can get the whole evening in at under $100 (movie tickets: at least $20, snacks $15, dinner at a low-key place $30). Date nights are supposed to be good for your marriage but marriage counseling might actually be cheaper.
Happily, we don’t need marriage counseling at the moment and we are lucky enough to have a good childcare option for an overnight date (something we haven’t really had before) since my awesome niece moved here for college. We hit her up for babysitting duties and scurried off to go to the movies (Black Panther — Wakanda Forever!) and then to stay at a semi-fancy hotel. Which, side note: I very much dislike that fancier hotels charge you for EVERYTHING. $15 for parking, $12 for wi-fi, we won’t even talk about the fact that an omelet for breakfast was $17 (spoiler alert – yes we will). If we do a date night again, I’m headed back to the Embassy Suites because that is fancy enough for me plus there is unlimited access to bacon for breakfast.
On the plus side, the hotel had a very large bath tub and I took not one but two bubble baths (getting my money’s worth) plus I slept in until after 9am, which is always a good idea. At one point I did start mentally doing the math on how much the hotel cost per hour and then I stopped that because I didn’t want to ruin my “I haven’t seen my kids is 18 hours” buzz. Instead, I read a Real Simple in the tub and wondered how long we could stay gone before my niece would start questioning her life choices.
Eventually, because I can’t help myself, I did finally do the math on our date and, well, I can say that it was both totally worth it and surprisingly expensive. One over night but not that fancy date (casual dinner, movie with snack, hotel room, lunch the next day, and babysitting) cost over $400. It could easily have been more if we had drinks with dinner or if I had been emotionally willing to pull the trigger on getting room service breakfast (The previously mentioned $17 omelet also required at $4 delivery fee and an automatic 20% gratuity — I just couldn’t get myself to believe that the privilege of eating eggs in my underwear was worth $25). It was SO GREAT to have almost 24 kid free hours with the person I like the most, so I don’t regret spending the money, but — yikes, it feels kind of indulgent to spend that much money on one night, you know?