When did you last have a ‘date night’ with your partner? Like real, quality time together just the two of you? We all know how important it is to spend time together as a couple away from the kids but finding the energy or inspiration to do anything other than sit in front of the telly with a takeaway can often feel like too much of an effort.
If this sounds like you, I know someone who can help put that spark back into your date nights. Let me introduce you to Kate Greenhalgh, mum to two-and-a-half-year-old Phoebe and and wife to John. Kate has got your date nights covered, I promise.
Two years ago, inspired by a gift from her (very clever!) husband, Kate set up A Year Of Dates – beautiful gift boxes packed full of unique, colour-coded date ideas for you and your partner to enjoy together. There are plenty of other brilliant gift ideas too – A Year Of Play for little ones (perfect for school holidays if you’re stuck for ideas), milestone boxes for those big birthdays, and the fab just-launched New Parents box.
Meeting Kate, owner of A Year Of Dates
Even though she’s super busy, Kate made time to have a little chat with us so that we could find out more about her, her family and the lovely story on how A Year Of Dates came to be. Hopefully it will inspire you to turn off the TV for an hour and make proper date nights a regular thing again.
What is the best thing, and the hardest thing, about being a mum?
The best thing is now that Phoebe can talk, she tells me I’m her best friend. I can actually have a conversation with her. I’m constantly amazed at her language and how much she understands!
The hardest thing is the lack of sleep and the lack of personal space while trying to sleep – she appears in our bed at some point most nights!
I remember being ‘tired’ when I got home from a day at work (sitting in front of a computer, not actual physical work!), then I’d lie on the sofa watching TV all night and sleep for eight hours…
Are you a hopeless romantic?
No…I like to think I could be but John is the romantic one! He always gets it just right with presents or the little gestures. Not annoying at all!
What’s the best date you’ve ever been on?
I’d have to say my first ‘official date’ with John. We met online so had stalked each other for a while on Facebook, then started chatting. We met up three times before the official date, and he’d even met my friends.
Then when we were due to meet up he told me to bring a jumper. I spent all day wondering what he had planned, so when we set off on the motorway I was a bit confused. A friend was texting me to ask if I knew his car registration!
We ended up in Blackpool for the illuminations, and he had a convertible so we had the top down – that’s why I needed a jumper!
What was the inspiration for starting A Year Of Dates?
The idea was born from a Christmas present from John. He made me a date jar containing over 70 sealed envelopes – he kept thinking of better ideas so just kept adding them in.
The idea was to open one a week and do what the card said. It was brilliant for making us make an effort. It was pre-Phoebe so we’d meet for dinner after work, go to the cinema and come home to candlelit dinners!
Fast forward 18 months and I was on maternity leave. I told a friend about the gift and she had the same response as everyone else: “I wish I had time and the ideas to do that.” And I had a lightbulb moment!
We used our savings to buy enough stock for 100 sets and planned to sell them at craft fairs and markets in the run-up to Christmas. At the end of September 2016, I attended a Pitch Up session for Not On The High Street, they signed me up as a partner and I’ve not looked back.
What’s it really like to run your own business alongside having a family?
It’s tough! You find ways to speed up jobs and I often work into the evening but I love it.
Until recently I had a part-time job in a design agency as well. I left there in April as we realised I needed the time to grow the business and get out to events and courses. I have no idea how to run a business so I now have an advisor and have been taking part in a business development programme.
Was it a tough decision to give up your day job?
The dream had always been to be self-employed by the time Phoebe started school, so the fact I have been able to do it two years earlier is amazing. Giving up the day job was scary but it was absolutely the right time and we could see the potential if I gave it my all.
Which is your favourite product from A Year Of Dates?
That’s like asking which your favourite child is!! I think it would have to be the New Parents box at the moment. It was a seed of an idea that I just ran with and I’m so pleased with the result.
When you have a baby everything changes and your life is focused on this new little being, rightly so, and the people you were before can get lost. Once I had the idea it just felt like a great gift for new parents because, let’s face it, the dad is often overlooked!
Each box has 26 envelopes. The idea is one a fortnight but really it’s whenever it feels right! They are a mix of things you can do at home while the baby is asleep, days out where baby can go too, and five silver envelopes which require a babysitter. Each order is colour-coded – cream things to do at home, silver for a babysitter and a choice of pink, blue or purple for getting out of the house.
A portion of each sale goes to The Smile Group who support families dealing with PND in Cheshire.
What one piece of advice would you give to new parents?
Take your time. There is no rush to get out to groups, have visitors or do anything until you feel ready. Just because other people look like they are out swimming and having days out, don’t feel pressured.
Aside from your husband, who would be your dream date and what would you do?
James Corden – and we’d have to do carpool karaoke!
Do you think your relationship can ever be the same after having a family?
I think it takes time but yes. It’ll never be exactly the same because you mainly talk about the kids! We’re two and a half years in, and we make an effort to go to gigs and have nights out like we used to.
Do you and your husband always make time for date nights?
We try, but the irony of this business is that we are often working on it in the evenings! We do try though – the original date jar is still sat on a shelf and every so often we take out a card and book a babysitter.
What advice can you give to busy mums who don’t feel they have enough time or money to book in a regular date night with their partner?
You don’t have to get dressed up and go out! Most of the date cards are things you can do at home, like make a playlist together or watch the sunset. You just need an hour or two when you’d be scrolling Instagram or watching TV.
Of course putting on your best clothes and going out for dinner is lovely too but it’s not realistic every week! We have a colour-coded date box so you can plan the type of dates you choose in advance.
Dating the father of your child/ren shouldn’t be a chore!!
IT’S GIVEAWAY TIME!
Whoop, it’s time for a giveaway courtesy of the fab A Year Of Dates! Enter below to win your very own ‘Box of Dates‘ from A Year Of Dates – worth £25! Good luck lovelies!
‘A Box of Dates’ from A Year Of Dates giveaway
Disclaimer: This is a collaborative post.