Mom and Pop Passion
Dad Going Nuts? Go Out Instead.
My Time Is Your Time
The Oberholtzers of Evanston, Ill., have a standing date on
Wednesday mornings. James takes time off from his law practice; Katherine -- a
marriage and family therapist -- doesn't schedule appointments. Typically, 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, a mother of three. "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 teenager 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
non-cash 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 corner.
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. Give yourself time alone with your spouse or your partner -- and
give your kids valuable lessons in intimacy.