Personal Story

Forget Date Nights, I Took Myself on Solo Dates Every Week for a Month—Here’s What Happened

written by DAIZHA RIOLAND
Source: ColorJoy Stock
Source: ColorJoy Stock

After having kids, I would be remiss to say that finding time to have regular date nights is “easy”. In fact, it can sometimes take up to a month to plan, with differing work schedules, extracurricular activities, a lack of childcare options, and sheer exhaustion from the daily woes of parenthood. Finding time to connect with your partner can become quite a hassle. So, when I finally established a routine for biweekly date nights with my husband, I expected to feel a sense of relaxation. However, in all transparency, I couldn’t get my mind off the millions of things on my mental-load to-do list.

I realized I needed a change. Amidst motherhood, I had lost touch with myself, and I couldn’t be the best mom or wife without finding what brings me joy and peace beyond the day-to-day tasks of being an employee, wife, and mother. Giving up date nights may seem like a wild concept to some, but for me, it was simply a restructuring. I asked my husband for one month. Just one month of weekly solo dates for me. These weren’t trips to the grocery store or time to run errands—this was genuine solo time, me alone with my thoughts, and perhaps a bottle of Riesling with a slice of chocolate cake at a candle-lit dinner table.

I had no clue what to expect, but after a month of weekly solo dates, here’s what happened.

I Learned That I Don’t Know How to Rest

I’ve always struggled with the concept of rest. I’m the type of person who needs sound and light to fall asleep. However, after having two babies who are usually sleep-averse, I found getting sleep when I could to be relatively easy. Yet, just because I’m sleeping doesn’t mean I’m resting. I believe my to-do list and brain were still so overstimulated that they conjured up characters that played in my dreams.

So, when I went on my first solo date, I headed to a coffee shop armed with just a notebook, a pen, and a very good vanilla latte. I told myself I would journal and reflect on my wants, needs, hobbies, troubles, joys, and hopes. However, I barely made it through one bullet point before that pesky to-do list popped into my head. Five minutes later, I found myself on my laptop, handling work, ordering supplies for my daughters, trying to schedule doctor’s appointments, and updating the family calendar.

When my timer went off to leave, tears welled up in my eyes. “Did I just waste a precious opportunity to be alone with no kids, no husband, no house responsibilities?” At first, I thought yes. But then I realized it taught me something very important—I did not know how to rest. This moment had a profound impact on the rest of my solo dates. I now had a clear vision: to figure out what rest means to me, what I need to achieve it, and then what support I need to maintain it. It sounded great in theory, but it was a long road to self-exploration.

My First Solo Date Set the Course for How I Spent My Next Ones

Over the next few days, I delved into researching the different types of rest. I discovered that I was lacking in all seven: physical, mental, sensory, emotional, social, creative, and spiritual. However, the ones that stood out to me the most were mental, sensory, and emotional rest. This revelation was crucial. It helped me understand that knowing myself, my needs, and what keeps me well is not something to prioritize only when time allows—it’s something I must make time for. I’m doing everyone in my life a disservice, including myself, if I neglect my holistic well-being. I don’t know how much longer it would have taken me to figure that out if I hadn’t gone on that first solo date.

solo dates
Source: ColorJoy Stock

I Don’t Just Need My Cup Filled, I Need it Overflowing

Often, we hear the saying, “You cannot pour from an empty cup.” For me, I learned filling my cup is the bare minimum.

As I navigate the daily struggles and joys of motherhood, I often find myself pouring more than my cup can even hold. When I embarked on these solo dates, I realized that what I thought was replenishing my cup was often just basic hygiene, house maintenance, or transportation from one destination to another. I used to believe a 15-minute shower at night was my self-care, a trip to the grocery store without kids, or even my commute from one destination to another in between work. But as the week progressed and I felt increasingly depleted and drained, I’d ask myself, “Why?” So, when I decided to take myself out on solo dates, I knew I needed to step out of my comfort zone to figure out what actually replenishes me.

At first, I thought a massage, a trip to the nail salon, or even a leisurely trip to Target would suffice. However, I took it a step further and (embarrassingly) Googled a quiz to figure out what hobbies best fit all the personality types I’ve discovered about myself, from the Enneagram to the Myers-Briggs. Sometimes, the worst part about feeling like you’ve lost your identity isn’t sitting in the loss—it’s not knowing where to start the journey to be found.

“Sometimes, the worst part about feeling like you’ve lost your identity isn’t sitting in the loss—it’s not knowing where to start the journey to be found.”

So, after consulting TikTok, Pinterest, The Everymom (of course), and dozens of other websites, I decided my second solo date would be a trip to one of my favorite parks to take pictures and journal. As I sat by myself, just letting myself exist, I found a sense of peace and, most importantly, replenishment.

In that moment, I understood that having my cup filled was not enough and would no longer suffice. When you give everything to everyone else, you need even more poured back into you. So, I’m embracing the new ideal that you need to be overflowing with peace, joy, care, rest, wellness, and so much more so that you can give not just the best version of yourself but the most whole version of yourself.

I Am a Whole Person Outside of Motherhood

I’m never one to shy away from the conversation that although I love being a mom and a wife, having a family, having a career… and more, I’ve felt lost in my identity. I feel like it’s a completely natural thing to feel for some mothers. Your body changes, you may shift careers, your priorities change, and your relationships change. It’s very natural to not know who you are in the midst of all of the changes. When I became a mom, it became a part of my identity, almost to the point that being a mother was all that I identified with. I remember being asked, “Tell me about yourself,” and the first thing I said was, “I’m a mom of two beautiful daughters.” And although I’m proud that motherhood is a major part of me, I struggled with the second, third, and fourth sentences. 

Getting just two hours by myself, with no one asking for a snack, having to whip out my breast to feed my baby, or crying because their juice-box straw didn’t bend the right way, felt like such a luxury. Yet, it was during these moments that I rediscovered parts of myself I had long forgotten. I remembered the woman who spent hours lost in a good book, found release in writing pages of poetry, and loved to explore new places without worrying about nap schedules or diaper changes. 

It was liberating to realize that I am a whole person outside of motherhood. Yes, being a mom is a significant part of who I am, but it doesn’t define me entirely. I am my own person with passions, dreams, and desires beyond the role of a caregiver. And by reconnecting with those aspects of myself through these solo dates, I am not only becoming a better version of myself for me but also for my family.

In prioritizing my well-being and rediscovering my identity, I hope to set an example for my children—that it’s essential to prioritize self-care, discover your interests, and never lose sight of who you are, even amidst parenthood’s beautiful chaos. So, while date nights with my husband are still cherished, my solo dates have become equally invaluable, reminding me that taking care of myself isn’t selfish; it’s a necessary act of love and care.