I do not know about all of you, but sadly my spouse and I normally get what little is left after a full day of parenting a child with special needs (and my other precious child). Most days, by the time we fight them into bed, clean up the house, and get things ready for tomorrow, I have nothing left. We will snuggle up side by side and watch something we have saved. But we really do not talk or focus on the other person. It is just a way to finally unwind and fall into exhaustion.
It is super easy to fall into a daily pace of life and ignore the one who stands beside you daily in the fight of parenthood. Being a special needs parent makes dating and time to yourself almost impossible.
Time and money are not the only obstacles to date night we face. Finding someone who can medically or emotionally care for our children is often hard. The struggle to untangle from our child who desperately does not like change in routine can sometimes seem not worth it. Weeks will pass into months, and you will finally realize it has been ages since the last time you spent time alone with your husband or wife.
Date Night Solutions
Over the last year or so, my husband and I decided to stop using excuses and make date night work for our life. The first thing we did was get rid of date “night.” It is not always easy for us to get away for a night. If we waited for all the stars to align and a date night to appear in the sky, we would go months with no dates. So, we decided breakfast or lunch is okay, too. Added bonus: it is cheaper to eat out during those times!
These dates tend to happen during the school year when my kids are taken care of by amazing teams at school for seven hours a day. I work part time and my spouse has flexible lunch hours. We try to meet up every other week or so and spend those thirty or so minutes talking and laughing together. It is not a long time away, but it is amazing what that little time can do for a marriage.
We also use the time after bedtime to our advantage. This may mean we sit on our back porch with a fire in our fire pit and talk while the stars twinkle. These times in the dark of night often lead to real honest conversations about struggles, hopes, and goals. I love it too, because we are not distracted by people and things around us. It is just us and a crackling fire. My kids are safely inside asleep and I can unwind and be with the one I fell in love with so many years ago. It is just a peaceful time to refocus on each other and hear the other’s thoughts.
Another favorite thing we do when time and money is tight, is borrow a movie from the library, pick up our favorite pie from the grocery store, and snuggle on the couch to watch it together. I get to wear my comfy yoga pants, my face is washed of make up, and the tension can leave my shoulders for a few hours. We escape to another world for a bit together. It reminds me of simpler times, less stressful times of our married life when we watched movies and laughed or cried.
We still try to plan those special nights out. They normally take a lot of planning, and sadly more then once we have had them thwarted by medical crises. But we never give up on those special nights out. We try to make sure they are something we both really enjoy and want to do. I still love dressing up for my man and going out on his arm. He still smiles when he sees me walk out of the room ready.
We treasure those precious nights out. We just make sure we do not wait on those moments, but we seek time together where we are!