When Chris and I have a date night planned I find the time leading up to the date night a tiny bit stressful. We're trying to get the house tidy, prep the boys' dinner, get pajamas out, and get ready ourselves. On top of that the boys started getting clingy and emotional when we would leave them with a babysitter. A crying child is not the ideal way to start a fun and relaxing date night.
Enter: the snack pack. Based on the logic that a little treat can go a long way with toddlers and preschoolers, we started putting together little cups of fun snacks for babysitter nights. I randomly put two snack cups together one night before a babysitter came and we must have had cookies or graham crackers on hand, which we don't normally buy. I told the boys that I had "snack packs" for them but only when we were leaving the house. Instead of crying children we were able to leave our babysitter with delighted and engaged children. It was amazing. Now when we tell the boys we're having a babysitter they ask, "Do we get a snack pack?" Yes you do.
A snack pack doesn't have to be overly indulgent or unhealthy. The two key components are to have variety (at least three different kinds of snacks) and novelty. A few things the boys have found in their snack packs include a fruit leather bar, a granola bar, goldfish crackers, graham crackers, a few chocolate chips, peanut butter Puffins cereal, or small cookies (like the Trader Joe's dark chocolate mint stars in the photo above - one of my seasonal favorites!).
They always did great with a babysitter even when there were tearful goodbyes but they would seem to dread the evening. Now they are excited to have a babysitter and we love having a happy transition while we leave the house. Hooray date night!