Date night! Once you become a parent, it takes on a whole new meaning. Date night is more like a few hours of peace and quiet (and freedom…)! I remember my last meal with my husband before our son was born. We had lunch and then headed to the hospital where I was induced. This would be our last meal for two without having to coordinate with family or a babysitter. For first time parents, leaving your little baby for the first time is the most terrifying thing ever (it gets better with time, but the “what if” never goes away). The first few brave soles I entrusted my son to were family members. I was lucky they lived close enough to be able to give my husband and I a much needed date night. Date nights serve as a reminder that we are humans, not just sleep deprived zombies.
Date nights gave my husband and I a chance to reconnect, keep the intimacy alive, and remind us that we do have lives outside our son. We are able to work on keeping our connection strong as a couple and that in turn allows us to be better parents. Now that I’m pregnant with our second, I feel more pressure than ever to plan date nights with my husband. Between juggling two kids and night feedings with a newborn, I’m certain escaping for even an hour or two those first few months will be a challenge. Like a bear storing food for the winter, I feel the need to stockpile alone time with my main man.
Finding a Sitter
So how do you find a sitter? Well, if you’re lucky enough to have family close by who are just dying to spend time with that little bundle of joy, ask and never feel bad if they want to, just let them! If you don’t have family close by, ask a close friend who had a baby or kids before you if they have any recommendations. Referrals are the best because they have already been tested and approved by a close friend. Teachers – if your child is in daycare or preschool see if there are any teachers looking for extra hours. This is also a great option during the summer because many teachers look to fill those summer gaps with babysitting jobs. Some parents have great success with online sitter sites like Care.com and sittercity.com. Before I left my son for the first time, I got a list of referrals from a friend and called and asked a list of questions ahead of time. I wanted to make sure they were comfortable with a baby and had plenty of experience with one. Don’t feel bad about asking questions and getting to know the person who will be in your home and alone with your child. Here are some basic questions I ask when hiring a new sitter:
Please tell me about yourself and your experience with children.
- What is the youngest child you have sat for?
- Are you comfortable with bottles and diaper changes?
- What are some fun qualities that you think kids like about you?
- Is there an age of child you enjoy most?
- Do you feel comfortable fixing light meals for kids?
- How do you handle discipline when you are caring for a child?
- Have you ever been in a emergency situation with a child? How did you handle it?
- Do you have a car?
- What questions do you have for us?
Too nervous to leave?
If you’re really nervous about leaving your little one, ask the sitter to meet you at the playground for a trial so that you can see how they interact with your child. You can also invite the sitter to meet at the house in advance so you can walk through your routine. Leaving your baby for the first time, especially if it’s your first baby, is never easy. Any experienced sitter will understand and try to accommodate you as best they can.
If you’re not ready to leave your little one home, plan an at home date. Put the baby to bed and put away all electronics. Cook something new, get a bottle of wine, rent a movie you may have missed in the theater or get some board games. Just talk and connect with your spouse. Just carving out a few moments with your spouse allows you to quickly realize how much you’ve missed that person taking time to focus on your relationship. This is critical to working as a team and parenting. Don’t feel guilty about taking moments for yourself and your relationship. You’re human and you need it!