Going Nuts? Go Out Instead
My Time Is Your Time continued...
"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.
Katherine Oberholtzer found that a co-op was particularly useful to her as a
new parent reluctant to leave her first baby. "We knew the other couples
had already been through it and they weren't going to panic or give up,"
she says. They stopped when it became a burden to sit for families with much
older kids and different house rules.
If you lose your gumption because your child is wailing at the front window
as you pull out of the driveway, take heart. As long as you have a nurturing,
attentive sitter, the little one will probably stop crying before you turn the
And think about how you're helping to lay the foundation for your child's
own healthy relationships later on. "When parents value each other, are
happy to see each other and keep each other's needs in focus, their children
learn the importance of marital closeness," says Judith Siegel, a social
worker and author of "What Children Learn From Their Parents' Marriage"
(HarperCollins, 2000). Give yourself time alone with your spouse or your
partner -- and give your kids valuable lessons in intimacy.