Dovercourt Recreation Centre's Saturday Night Date Night

by Vivian

I have a confession: it's been almost two years since I have had a "date night" with my husband.

You remember dates right? Where you can go out for a meal without having to bring along a stuffed animal or cut up food into bite-sized pieces for someone else?
We don't have a go-to 'night out' baby sitter, nor do we have family in the city who'll willingly take on our Jr. VP for the evening, so you can only imagine how happy my husband and I were when we learned that Dovercourt Recreation Centre added Saturday Night Date Night to its Fall programming this year.
From Dovercourt's schedules (it's helpfully found in their Pre-Schooler & ParentedSchool Age and Adult programs under "For Couples" on the first page):
Our new Saturday Night Date Night is a WIN WIN!
Drop the kids with us for an exciting evening for them and a night out for you. We'll start the night off with programmed water activities and a swim in the pool between 6:30 and 7:30 pm. Next up is Preschool room for a healthy snack and a wide range of quieter dry land activities designed to wind down the night and get ready for bed. Drop off is between 6:00 - 6:30 in the Preschool room, and pick up is between 8:30 - 9:00 in the Preschool room. $16 or 2 preschool Pass punches. Ages 5-12.
You pre-register and pay for the date night of your choice through Dovercourt's online registration system and then count down the days until date night.
We made sure to sell Date Night to our Jr. VP as being a special night for him. ;)

Unfortunately, the first date I tried setting up was the Saturday after Thanksgiving and we were the only ones registered, so date night was cancelled. *Cue the sad trombone* :(.

Our date was moved to the following week and lo and behold, two days before Date Night, we were told once again that our Jr. VP was the only one enrolled, but they wouldn't cancel it again. The program director, Allison, did suggest that I tell some friends so that it could be a bit more fun for our son. After a couple of emails and a few late registrations, there were actually 8 kids who enjoyed Date Night this past Saturday! (The program can accommodate up to 20 kids per date night.)
While my husband and I were enjoying each other's company and an excellent sushi meal, our son and the other Date Night kids were under the watchful eye of Dovercourt staffer Amy. They had the pool all to themselves for an hour! Most kids requested life jackets and ours specifically asked to stay in the shallow end near the slide. After the pool, they were dried up, dressed, and herded back to the Pre-School room for a juice and granola bar snack, followed by a craft activity. Our son isn't big into crafts and as it turns out neither were some of the other kids, so when we came to pick him up at 9pm, he was happily playing with Dovercourt's large collection of games and toys. (One note about pick-up: you can pick-up your children between 8:30pm - 9pm, but after 9pm there is a $5 charge for every 10 minutes that you are late.)
{Photo caption: The Jr. VP, playing with some of Dovercourt's games before we left him for our date. I would have gotten photos of him playing in the pool, but that would have defeated the idea of going out on a date!}
{Photos - Character Creative's Jr. VPs working on the after-swim beading craft}
A good time was definitely had by all! The Jr. VP is excited to have another Date Night, though I doubt he's as excited as I am!

P.S. It turns out that Dovercourt isn't the only one in the city who offers this type of program. If you're in Barrhaven, or perhaps seeing a movie in Barrhaven, you can also check out A Gym Tale's "Kids Night Out!". If you know of any other similar programs in the Ottawa-area, I'm sure other date-deprived parents would love to hear about them!

Vivian is mom to the five-year-old Jr. VP of Blend Creations, the company she and her husband run together.
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