Going Nuts? Go Out Instead
With four kids ranging in age from 2 to 12, Ann Douglas still manages to steal romantic dinners with her husband -- candles, a bottle of wine, a movie later -- even if they're only sitting at their kitchen table and just pretending to be in some exotic restaurant.
She says it's a matter of self-preservation.
"When weeks go by without that kind of a break as a couple, you start to get on each other's nerves, lose all connection and just feel like, 'Where's this relationship headed?' " says Douglas, author of "The Unofficial Guide to Childcare" (Macmillan, 1998).
Sure, there are tons of excuses for letting "date night" (or morning or afternoon) opportunities slip by: Good babysitters are a hot commodity. Sleep is all you want by the time your baby finally nods off. Or you may worry about leaving your child, especially during that 6- to 18-months-old period when separation anxiety kicks in.
But refueling your relationship with the other parent is important for your kids, experts say, in large part because it's important for you.
"If you're not taking care of your own needs as an adult and as a couple, you're in a much less healthy position to be of value to that young child," says Dr. Daniel Kessler, director of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at the Children's Health Center of St. Joseph's Hospital in Phoenix. It makes intuitive sense that a troubled marriage can negatively affect a child's emotional, cognitive and physical health.
Getting Out the Door (or at Least Behind One)