Date Night. It can seem like a mythical concept when you are in the trenches of caring for little humans. Seasons of life change and with that can come fuller schedules and overlapping responsibilities. What was at one point a normal occurrence, can begin to feel more like a distant memory of a life lived by someone else and you can become convinced that there’s just not enough time in the day to even think about date night.
And what about when you are a parent of a child who has a disability? Who is available, capable AND willing to watching him/her?
Sure, some families utilize respite services, which provides workers who are trained to care for children who have disabilities. Some families have reliable family members who are more than happy to babysit. Then there are some families that have neither and struggle to find the time and/or the energy to make time for their significant other. While circumstances and seasons vary, making time as a couple is still absolutely necessary!
So how can parents who are raising a child with a disability incorporate date night?
It starts by defining what the term date night means to you and the associated expectations. For us, date night is not always leaving our home and is rarely a fancy outing or an adventurous activity. While those things are awesome and some couples are able to schedule regular outings, it’s not the norm for us right now – and I’m more than ok with that. I do not let social media become the measuring stick of what a date night “should” look like – because that’s one quick way to develop unrealistic expectations.
The whole point of date night, no matter what you choose to do, is to cultivate intentional quality time together as a couple and you can accomplish that dressed up for a night out or dressed in your pajamas for a night in! When you strip it down to the bare bones, it’s easy to see how date night has more to do with being intentional about the time together every chance you get rather than just simply scheduling a night out once a week.
The last few outings my husband and I have deemed a “date” have been going to Target to buy a new iron and taking a walk around the block. Most nights we enjoy a late night snack while laughing at memes on Instagram after our kids go to bed. It’s in the simple things, the simple conversations that can affirm our tired spirits and say You are still important to me.
While carving out that time to spend together cultivates our relationship, it also mirrors for my children what a healthy, loving relationship looks like and ultimately sets the tone for our home. Investing in each other is an investment into our children. We are far from perfect, but spending any amount of time together having a conversation that is not related to our daily grind is a way to be reminded of why we are together – of why we love each other. Often times while raising children, especially when a child has a disability, it’s so easy to become ultra-focused on their needs and their well-being, that a couple can slowly grow apart. If anything, date night is the opportunity to invest in sharing intentional moments together that changes that trajectory and helps couples grow together.