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Do you need date night at home ideas?
One of the most challenging aspects of special needs parenting is finding suitable child care providers – especially if your special needs child is active and/or has medically complex needs. The teenager next door is too inexperienced. The grandparents are getting on in age and less nimble. And paying for babysitters with behavioral and/or nursing degrees can be prohibitively expensive, turning a simple dinner out into a several hundred dollar excursion.
But just like special needs families need to prioritize vacations for their overall well-being, special needs parents need to prioritize date nights for the well-being of their relationship. So how do you have a date night at home? Start by sending any neurotypical kids on a sleepover, or to grandmas, or overnight camp (yes, you can have five dates in a row during science camp!).
Dress up- or not
Like everything about these date night at home ideas – this is your choice. If it feels like more of an occasion if you put on “real clothes” and earrings and even some makeup, then go for it. If it feels more indulgent to leave on your fuzzy slippers and favorite sweater, then do that instead. The dress code is whatever you decide it is.
Create a little ambiance
Light some candles. Or turn on a string of twinkle lights. Play some music – like our Spotify playlist you can download here. Whatever you do, try to make it something different than you typically do. Do you have an underused dining room table that you could clear off and set with your (dusted off) wedding china? Do you have a fireplace that you never light while your child is awake for fear of safety issues? Choose something a little special.
Favorite take out
Unless you’ve asked, you might be surprised at the type and variety of restaurants that can package their food to go. Over the years, we’ve had high end Italian, American and even a French restaurant happily package up their dinner menu for us, in addition to the usual suspects of burgers, pizza and most Asian cuisine. Japanese is often an exception – as few items (aside from sushi) travel well. We save delicate tempura, hot-off-the-grill yakitori, and soul-warming ramen for lunch dates.
New movie – or series
One of the benefits of streaming services, is that you can watch multiple episodes of a series at once, forgoing the typical week-long delay. If your date nights are in a row – such as when other kids are away at camp- you can watch an entire season – or two – depending on how the length of each episode.
Play a board game
Want something a little more interactive? (Or have older typically developing kids that want to join in the fun?) Consider board games. We have an entire wall full of games to choose from (did I mention we spend a LOT of time at home?). If you don’t have a large collection – or are looking for something new – there are a few that work just as well with two players as with more. Consider Labyrinth, Splendor or Forbidden Desert (or Forbidden Island or Forbidden Sky). If you have a third or fourth wheel for your game, think about 7 Wonders, Catan, or Telestrations.
No matter which of these date night at home ideas you choose, you should carve out the time to make this a priority. This is self-care for your relationship. And if the two of you can forge a stronger bond, then you will be better able to parent your special needs child.
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