For many years of our marriage (like 10), it was just Mike and I, so we were pretty spoiled by being able to run out pretty much any time we felt like it. On a whim, we would decide to head to our favorite restaurant (an hour and a half away) just for dinner. We might call a friend or family members on the way there to see if they wanted to meet us, but we were going anyway.
Enter: our children. Now, don't get me wrong. We badly wanted children. We wanted them sooner than 10 years into our marriage in fact (but that's a whole 'nother post!). It was just that when we did, it was a stark contrast to the life we had lived for many years. We suddenly had a 4 1/2 year old boy (remember the adoption piece of our family), and I was pregnant with our daughter. Our son (and we) had LOTS of adjustments to make during that time, so there was no just picking up and running out somewhere. Then we had our daughter. Once we got her "figured out" at least related to sleep, she was in bed BY 6 or 6:30 in the evening, and if it was a second later than her "window", she was up for several more hours, and slept poorly the whole night. So...6 or 6:30 it was...for years...really. There is no just picking up and running out somewhere with THAT schedule. We could barely get home from work, have supper, and get her to bed on time!
As time went on, we realized that we really needed some "us" time again. We started having a babysitter come once a week (or so) so Mike and I could get out and enjoy being "us" again. It wasn't always totally consistent depending on babysitter availability multiple other things, but we really made an effort, and still do!
At some point (probably even before we had kids now that I think about it...), Mike started meeting some guys fairly frequently. It wasn't every week back then, but it was a consistent connection with "the guys" and it was really good. Now, he still gets together with "the guys", and it usually is every week, and it is still really good.
More recently, we realized that we were getting out together pretty regularly, and he was getting together with friends fairly regularly, and we gathered with friends fairly regularly, but I didn't really have my own time...yet. So I got a "girls' night"! Now we try to have a "date night" each week. It is usually on Tuesdays. Mike has a "guys' night". It is ALWAYS on Wednesdays. I have a "girls' night". It is usually on Thursdays. And Friday through Monday are whole family time! Of course we spend some family time together EVERY day, but bedtime is a family deal on the days that we are all home.
We love our "nights" that we get a chance to get away...together...and apart...and it helps our marriage...and it helps our family.