I’m really interested to know how many others do manage some time alone with their partners? I mean quality time, not to discuss home management issues. While it’s true most parents lead hectic lives with few opportunities to just sit or be together, for parents of additional/special needs kids however, it can be even tougher. Even for a brief diversion.
Invariably alone time and couple time lose out if not prioritised. After quite a few years of ‘head down, man your stations’ and a work schedule that keeps us apart often, my husband and I have learnt if we don’t insist on making it happen, it simply doesn’t.
Statistics for marriage survival of parents of special needs children can be sobering. More than one psychologist has reminded us of this and also complimented us on our ongoing commitment to each other- especially through the bumps. It’s not only important for our wellbeing, it benefits the kids as well. It doesn’t hurt them to be shown they are not always the centre of the universe and it’s an important circuit-breaker that keeps us all together in the longer term.
If you’re in a long term relationship and you care about one another, I feel strongly it’s something to consider, however complicated. Parents of special needs kids even more so- we need to keep functioning as a team, to prevent falling into the “every man for himself” groove. We’ve been there for years at a stretch. When our boy was small this was all new to us and my husband was travelling overseas for work. We simply weren’t capable of anything more. Parents like us can be in danger of burnout, so we need to look out for each other too.
The Catch 22 here is that because babysitters are not easy for us to find (how many people would we feel confident leaving our kids with, or afford?) Therefore if anyone, it’s usually the same couple of people such as grandparents that we call upon. It can feel uncomfortable. But it is necessary.
Here are some of our ideas:
10-15 minutes: We love the newspaper quiz. We do it whenever we can. It used to be just the weekend papers but now with the paper on iPad we can do them any day. It gets us working together at something we enjoy- it’s fun, competitive and focuses our minds exclusively on something positive for ten to fifteen minutes.
30mins-2hours: We record or download fun shows or movies to watch together later- hopefully uninterrupted, or at the very least pause-and-rewindable. Yes, my husband usually falls asleep but recently The Voice was able to keep him nicely alert!
An Evening: As I dislike requesting favours, here’s an inspiration I came up with. A few years ago when I looked back and realised we weren’t enjoying any together-time any more- I bought us a present. For our 10th Anniversary, I purchased Friday night season tickets to musicals. It’s our annual tradition now and prepaid, so we make an effort even when tired. There are three productions a year and we are able to book our grandmas for overnight months in advance. They pop it on their calendars and the discomfort of asking multiple favours is taken care of. If we can, we swing a dinner beforehand too. I admit the quiet next morning is often the best part of all! We get to wake up calm a guaranteed three times a year. We look at each other over coffee, hot breakfast and a paper and think “Hey- I remember this! I remember you!” It’s medicine for the soul.
Do you do something particular to ensure some couple time in your relationship?