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5 Date Night Ideas for Parents Who Couldn't Get a Babysitter

BY: Kate Raftery |

It's Friday afternoon, and the dreaded text arrives from your spouse:

The babysitter says she has a huge project to do—wanna bet she got invited to a party?

When your childcare falls through on date night, the easy thing to do is to just surrender and resign yourself to pizza at home. But that's not the only way to go. Since plenty of date ideas qualify as both romantic outings and kid-friendly family activities, salvaging your evening is just a matter of settling on one. Read on for a list of date night ideas for parents that will keep the kids happy and the romance alive.

Find a Parents' Night

The idea: It's increasingly popular for gymnastics centers, trampoline houses, and play gyms to offer events on Friday or Saturday nights that allow parents to drop off their kids for a few hours. While supervised by staff, little ones practice sports, play games, and watch movies. They may even be fed dinner.

What to do: With the kids taken care of, you're free to do as you please. You could:

Click here to see more things to do in your area.

Take a Guided Tour

The idea: Guided tours provide an opportunity for a couple to hang back while the kids are otherwise engaged. They're also a romantic activity that easily could qualify for date night even if the babysitter didn't cancel.

What to do: Go horseback-riding. With the guide in charge, you two can drift toward the back and quietly enjoy the scenery together. Or try a hot-air balloon ride. Since kids are more likely to be interested in the craft's mechanics than their parents, feel free to gaze at the scenery and sip champagne—a perk often included by tour operators.

Distract The Kids with Friends

The idea: Choose a kid-friendly activity, then let your children invite along some pals. It may seem counterintuitive to solve the problem of having to watch kids by adding more kids to the mix, but making your plan a playdate can actually remove some of the pressure to keep them busy.

What to do: Go ice skating (or roller skating). At the skating rink, children would much rather zoom around with their buds—under your watchful eye, of course—than hang with their parents. As long as they're not injuring themselves or others, you'll be left to skate mitten-in-mitten with your sweetheart in peace.

See Separate Movies

The idea: Go the theater together, but let the kids pick a movie for themselves, while you two go for more grown-up fare. Admittedly this one only works if your kids fall into a certain age range: old enough to see a movie alone but too young to be left on their own at home. Still, it's worth mentioning, because it can be a perfect solution when it works.

What to do: Find a movie theater near you—maybe even one with an arcade the kids can enjoy in case your showtimes don't match up.

Try a New Cuisine

The idea: You may not get to eat a romantic dinner on your own, but that doesn't mean you're restricted to restaurants that have play places. You might be surprised how interested your kids are in trying new foods, plus the experience exposes them to the idea that there's more to the world of fine dining than hot dogs and chicken fingers. It's not a date date, but at least you two can order a glass of wine instead of a fountain soda.

What to do: Check out an Ethiopian restaurant and let the kids know it's ok to eat with their hands. Or maybe try tapas—kids need to learn about sharing, right?

Click here to see more restaurants in your area.

This article was originally published in a slightly different format, and has since been modified by our editors.