Connecting with your spouse is not easy when you are caring for someone with special needs.
For us, over the years, finding a reliable babysitter has been very difficult. In fact, it’s been so complicated that we never felt like we had a completely successful experience before our kids outgrew the need for babysitters. It was a source of frequent disappointment. There were so many complications – food issues, behavioral issues, physical therapy that needed to be completed, fits that most certainly would follow simple requests. It just felt like too much for a sixteen-year old cheerleader. Shoot, it felt like too much for a thirty-some some year old me. I often didn’t feel old enough for the challenge.
Here are some things that have worked for us to keep dating each other:
Plan In-Home Dates
These need to feel more special than a typical night when you crash in front of the TV with chips and salsa. Pick up a favorite meal at a local restaurant and get a bottle of wine. Lock your door! Trust me on this one. Most children have absolutely zero respect for closed doors. Make sure you put your kids to bed early that night (they will learn to expect it). Let them know you will NOT be coming out of your room for the rest of the night unless the house is on fire. Kids get tricky with this. Our children knock and say, “I have something really important to tell you, but I need to whisper it to you.” Nice try. The important thing will be something like, “I miss you!” or “Can I have a glass of water?” Resist the urge to attend to your child on this night. Make sure the room you are using for your date is tidied up. Nothing feels less enjoyable to me than trying to relax in a room that is a disaster.
If the kids will not go to bed early or are older, you can set them up with their own fun movie night. Make sure they have snacks and enough movies to get you through a few hours.
Plan Early Coffee Dates
This works well for older kids who are up at all hours of the night. Plan to set your alarm early and get up to have coffee with your spouse before the work day begins, and an hour before the kids need to be awakened. I have found that kids don’t get into too much trouble from 5:00-7:00am, so you may even be able to run out to breakfast without the complication of getting a sitter (if they are old enough).
Plan 10 to 15 Minutes Daily to Connect
Yelling across children’s heads is not connecting. Telling your wife about your work day while your daughter interrupts 5 times does not build intimacy. Again, use that great lock on your door and let your kids know that when it is locked, they can’t interact with you. Soon they will come to understand this and walk away from the door. Make sure that this brief time is spent in meaningful but not confrontational conversations. Meaningful is discussing how your boss’s decision has impacted your mood lately. Confrontational is discussing how your spouse’s socks on the bathroom floor drive you crazy.
Babysitter With You at Home
If you have children who can never be unattended, you have another option. You can hire a sitter to be with your child/children, while you are having a date in your room. In this way if you need to step out and help for some reason you can do that.
– Melody Aguayo, Springible Contributor