Monday, April 07, 2014

On the Importance of Date Night

When you're the parents of a special needs child, it's easy to feel trapped. Whom can we trust to watch our child if we go out? Whether it's health concerns or behavioural challenges, it is really too easy (and common) to believe we are the only ones who can handle it. Or who should HAVE to handle it.

I imagine it's a little easier when extended family is close by to help out, but I think it is always difficult to hand over the care of your special needs child to others. For us, we rely on the kindness of friends, and we have had amazing support from them with sleep-overs and playdates when the need arises. But Boo's behavioural issues always make us worry. We don't like to ask too much.
Date night. Yep. I even found time for make-up.

This weekend we attended the Starlight Children's Foundation Gala at the Fairmont Royal York. I had won tickets, and we opted to book a room at the hotel and make a night of it. It was a great decision for us, as a couple. We have not had that much fun together in an awfully long time. And, for the record, seeing updates and pics on Facebook showing how well the sleepover was going made a huge difference in our ability to relax and enjoy. (The open bar may have helped a little as well.)

We got all dressed up in our room, with no one asking for juice, and were welcomed to the gala with a glass of bubbly on our arrival. Silent auction, live auction, live art, a wonderful dinner, entertainment, chatting with other couples and meeting new people. We originally laughed when we saw there was an "after party" starting at 11 - we can't stay up that late! But we did. Music and dancing and laughter. I think it was after 1:00 am when we got back upstairs. And we had time for us.


Ready to go, in the designer dress
I rented from Rent Frock Repeat.
Finding time to connect as a couple can be a challenge in any relationship once kids join the picture. But it's particularly difficult when your child needs you more than the norm. I would argue it's even more important then. Our daily life can be a bit of a struggle. Whether it's a call from the school or a difficult night at home, caring for a special needs child can be so very stressful. And it's easy to feel overwhelmed and alone. Boo needs a lot of my attention. An awful lot. And that means my husband doesn't get the attention he deserves. Making time for us as a couple is important, and we are vowing to make that a priority moving forward. We believe this will make us a better parenting team and a happier couple overall.

We were lucky enough to have dear friends take Boo overnight this weekend. They know him well and were aware what that meant. From what I gather, the night went well, but the next morning was a disaster. They are still talking to us (I think), so I guess we've all survived. But I still feel guilty that they had to deal with his rage and outbursts.

We don't go out a lot. But we need to do it more. Having a strong support network, and allowing ourselves to give up some control are critical to making this happen. I'm now on a quest for a wonderful, neighbourhood, teenaged girl to be our regular babysitter and help us make this happen.

Tell me - do you prioritise date night with your spouse? How do you make it happen? What do you do?

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