Going Nuts? Go Out Instead
Getting Out the Door (or at Least Behind One) continued...
As most parents will attest, leaving your baby for the first time is always
the hardest, so ease into it with a quick getaway, like dessert at a
coffeehouse or a walk in the park.
"Don't try to go for dinner and a movie if you're going to be a
basketcase by the time the entrée arrives," says Douglas, "and if
you're paranoid, call from the restaurant. Who cares if they think you're
obsessive? You're allowed. You're a parent."
If you can't get out, get creative. Some couples wait until the baby's down
for a three- or four-hour stretch, then order a nice meal, dim the lights, and
ignore the phone and other household distractions. There isn't anything magical
about Saturday nights, either -- take the time whenever you can.
My Time Is Your Time
The Oberholtzers of Evanston, Ill., have a standing date on Wednesday
mornings. James takes time from his law practice, Katherine -- a marriage and
family therapist -- doesn't schedule appointments, and the two hit a yoga
class, then do lunch.
"We're firm believers that parents should get out at least once a
week," says Katherine, who has three children, ages 11, 7 and 3. "When
we haven't been able to do that, we feel it."
To find a good babysitter for your trysts:
- Ask family and friends.
- Call a university's early childhood education department.
- Check with the instructor of a local baby-sitting or teen first-aid
- Ask teachers, coaches and others who work with teens, such as members of
the clergy or the career counseling department at a high school.
Since a good sitter is hard to find and keep, be prepared to pay top dollar
($5 to $7 per hour for a teen-ager and $7 or more per hour for a college
student) and treat them with respect: Return home on time, pay anyway if you
have to cancel at the last minute and spend time teaching them what you
Family co-ops -- groups that trade baby-sitting services on a noncash basis
-- can be helpful, too, particularly since many new parents are tight on cash.
But Douglas says to make sure you understand the arrangements (for instance,
decide upfront if it'll be hour for hour), and that your child-rearing
philosophies and personalities are in sync.