My husband and I had a date night last month. It wasn’t just any date night either–we went out for sushi and our kids had their first sleepover at their friends’ house. We were kids-free for about 18 hours which is a rarity with a 7 & a 5 year old.
Date nights in the past have cost us up to $100. With a sitter at $10/hour and the cost of a dinner out–it all adds up quickly. A definite treat that isn’t realistic with our budget right now.
But this last date night didn’t cost us a dime.
How did we manage that, you ask?
A good friend was desperate for her daughter to learn to swim. Group lessons were a bit stressful for her daughter, but they wanted to enjoy the pool this summer.
Many years ago, my husband ran an aquatics program for a school district and a parks and recreation department. He also taught private swimming lessons to earn money when he was in college. Our friend knew this and asked my husband if he would teach her daughter private swimming lessons at her in-laws pool.
The two of them came to an agreement that my husband would teach 4 (1 hour) lessons and in exchange she would give us a gift card to our favorite sushi restaurant AND host our kids for a sleepover with her daughters. The sleepover was the key. Our girls are at the age where their friends are starting to have sleepovers, but I have told them that it will not happen unless daddy and I know the parents well. Our friend and her husband were in the same baby class as me and my husband when we were pregnant with our oldest daughters. We have watched each other’s children grow up and we consider them to be very good friends. This arrangement filled a need for both families.
Long before money was invented, people have been bartering skills and resources in exchange for other skills and resources. For thousands of years it’s how people survived. And it is a lost practice that makes so much sense…especially when date nights are involved!!
So start brainstorming! What are your needs? What are your skills? What can you barter?
- Do you need your lawn mowed or weeds pulled? Or can you mow some one’s lawn?
- Do you need a baby sitter? Or can you babysit?
- Do you need a ride to a doctor’s appointment or grocery store? Or could you drive someone around for their errands?
- Do you need piano lessons for your kids? Or do you know how to play and teach an instrument?
- Do you need help cleaning out your garage? Or are you good at home organization?
- Do you need the use of a truck to haul mulch? Or do you have a truck that you could lend to someone?
- Is your landscape in need of some TLC? Or do you have perennials that could be divided?
- Do you need someone to take pictures for a special event? Or are you a good photographer?
- Does your child need some tutoring? Or are you a teacher who could you offer tutoring.
- Would you like to learn to play the piano? Or do you play an instrument and could offer lessons.
- Do you have a green thumb? Plant some flower containers or a perennial garden as payment.
- Are you a good cook? Make 2 or 3 nights worth of dinners as payment.
- Are you a vegetable gardener and canner? Offer your homemade tomato sauce or jams as payment.
- Do you have hair cutting skills? Or do you need your hair cut and colored?
- Seriously, the list could go on and on.
Instead of reaching for your wallet the next time you have a need, put the call out to your friends about your particular need. Facebook is great for this. Be sure to come to a fair agreement where both parties feel like their needs are being met and they are getting value.
This whole experience has our wheels turning–what can we offer and what do we need help with? By the end of the fourth swimming lesson, our friend’s daughter was jumping in the deep end and swimming on her own. In return, our girls got to experience their first sleepover AND hubby and I had a date night with 18 hours of alone time.
It does a marriage good to have some alone time, but we won’t get into the specifics of our date night–just know that the sushi was delicious.
Have you bartered recently? What were the arrangements? Let us know in the comments.