I have been on the radio for the past few weeks being interviewed on dating when you are married and promoting my book, The Perfect Heart – Creating and Maintaining Love/Life Balance. “What you do to create the relationship is what you do to maintain it” is my motto. For my husband and me it is fairly easy since we don’t have children. He is the Wine Director for a restaurant and works 10-10 five days a week. So we make one of his days off our date night. What if you have children…especially young children? It can be a challenge in more ways than one. Let me give you an example.
My neighbors have two small daughters. They are three and five years of age and quite a handful. She stays home to take care of the girls and works when she can as a photographer. Once they are older she will build her business back up. Her husband has a pool maintenance business, so it is seasonal. They live on a pretty tight budget. She came over one day and we got to talking about dating when you are married
. I asked her the last time she and her husband had gone out on a date. It had been over a year, mostly because it is expensive to both pay for a sitter plus dinner and a movie. I got to thinking about how hard it is to raise a family, survive in this recovering economy and maintain any kind of balance in a relationship. I volunteered to watch the girls so they could go out and spend some time alone. I could tell that she liked the idea but felt awkward taking me up on it. After I several reminders of my offer, she eventually knocked on my door and asked me to watch them.
This got me to thinking that my radio interviews didn’t include the logistics of getting on a date for couples with children. It is important to have someone you trust watch your children. Because parents don’t want to put their friends out nor do they want to take advantage of their family, it might be difficult for them to ask. Dates don’t always mean a dinner and show. What if it was just going for a drive or maybe a hike? How about renting a hotel room for a few hours? They just need to get some alone time. So how can we help? Volunteer. How?
- Think of those in your family, circle of friends and your neighbors – volunteer a night to watch the kids.
- Give it as a gift. You can make up a gift certificate for one to as many as you are will to offer of babysitting.
- It doesn’t have to be just for a special occasion. For a couple with a young family just getting time alone is a special occasion.
- Follow up with them by scheduling a time. Especially if you are not a family member, they may feel funny taking your time to stay with their kids. Parents can become selfless and forget that they need to take care of themselves. Help them get past that feeling.
- Single, childless and don’t have plans? Instead of staying in at your house offer to watch a friend’s children so they can get a few hours out together. They look at you and remember the days when they had the luxury of time that comes with being childless. You never know, one day soon you could be in their shoes so volunteer while you have the time.
- Do it as a couple. Helping friends out with a night off isn’t just limited to one person. My husband and I were talking about watching a friend’s child so they could get away for a night before the next one arrives. Plus it is nice to have the company after the kids fall asleep.
No friends or family that can help? Trade off with other parents. Join parent groups so you can get to know other like parents. They might be living in your neighborhood, go to your church or someone you work with at the office. Set up an arrangement where one night you watch their kids and another night they watch yours. If you each did that once a month it would guarantee a night out.
These are just a few of my ideas. Do you have some ideas of your own? Please share!