This is a picture I took of the Lions at the Sacramento Zoo in California
Whenever someone talks about a “date night,” they always talk about leaving the house. If your child has Autism or any other form of awesomeness that prevents you from leaving their side; it can be difficult to “leave the house.” Even if you were somehow able to get someone that you trust to watch the child/ren, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t be freaking out while you are gone. You might be completely unable to enjoy your night out because you are too busy worrying about how your child is doing. So why do you have to leave the house? The correct answer is; YOU DON’T! Like this picture of the happy couple, you too can be a happy couple at home. (yes this lion couple would probably be very happy to be outside the cage, however they are very domestic compared to other lions and would probably starve to death or be eaten by other lions, if they were in Africa. Therefore; I am going to claim that they are happy).
- One way that my husband and I like to take “time off” after the children have gone down; is to make a batch of cookies together. I decided to do it one night, and he decided to join me, and we ended up having a lot of fun together. Now it’s become a twice a week thing and we are always challenging each other on how to make the new “better” cookie. You don’t have to make cookies like we do, but being in the kitchen and making a game out of it, can be a good tool for “parent time.”
- Playing video games. Some people may look at that and think “are you kididng? We’re not 6.” But video games are very wide spread and there are so many different kinds out there, that there is bound to be one that the two of you can play together. Sometimes it will be a game you have to take turns on (a one player game where you both have to do well because you’re sharing the controller with the other person). Sometimes it can be a two player game where you help each other out by completing levels together. There are even games where you can play against each other. As long as you don’t get too competitive, why not give it a try?
- Massage therapy is a great way to relax, and a great way to spend time communicating with someone. You can both rub the other person’s foot while you sit across from each other on the couch and talk about your day. This makes it so you have to be close, make eye contact, and be a part of your partner’s pain/pleasure. If you really want to get into it; I suggest buying a book (or just look up online) how to do acupressure. It’s a great way to get the knots out of your feet.
- Read a book together. This one is probably going to get a lot of eye rolls, but it is awesome. You both choose a book (a real book, not a tablet book), then you take turns reading it out loud to each other. You can discuss what you think will happen next and what you didn’t like about the last chapter. It gives you both something to look forward to during the day and it’s a great way to unwind. Plus, you have to be right next to each other, creating a cozy environment.
- Watching a movie is very generic and I don’t think people take advantage of the situation it could become if they tried. Take time with the before part; get the blankets ready on the couch, prepare the popcorn while you talk together, get something to drink, and a nummy chocolate snack to share. Bring it all into the room together, and prepare the movie. Then sit next to each other and enjoy the movie. Everything will already be there for you, so all you have to do is enjoy the other person’s presence.
- Take turns (on different nights) doing something the other person likes doing. For instance; if you like putting together puzzles, but he likes card games, do both of them. Have you put the puzzle together while you talk with a snack. The next night; play a card game together. The important thing is that you both take an interest in the other person’s interest and you do it TOGETHER.
- Art is another great way to spend time together and talk about your day or just share a new experience. Some people don’t like paint or feel like they can’t draw. But there are so many other forms of art out there; photography, graphic art, sculpting clay, origami, beading, pastels, the list is endless. You can look online at Pinterest and find a million ideas. It might be hard for you to find something you both want to do, but there’s one out there for everyone.
- For people who like to be “active” there are a ton of things you can do at home. Depending on what time of night it is, how dark it is, the temperature, and how many mosquitoes are out, will all help to determine what is possible outside. What I recommend is playing ball in the house. You take a small blow up beach ball, have you sit across the room from each other, and hit it back and forth. It sounds silly and easy, but when you’re dodging kid toys everywhere, trying to be quiet (so as to not wake up the kids) and trying not to knock things off the wall; it can become a very fun game. Plus the balls are like a dollar at the dollar store. Or you can order them offline for super cheap.
- This is by far the easiest and cheapest option; get into bed and stay there! Don’t turn on a movie (music is ok), put the phones away, bring food if it won’t mess up the bed, and just lay together. People underestimate the power of a good cuddle. Some people say they hate cuddling, but have they really tried it? Try laying next to the one you love and listen to them talk, or just listen to them breathe. Feel their presence and yours and just enjoy the fact that you are both there. You are both alive and everything will be ok. It’s simple, cheap, and so very important.
- The most important thing you can do to enjoy time together is: PUT THE DAMN PHONE AWAY! Put the phone, the tablet, the everything electronic AWAY! The best way to spend time with your significant other is not by leaving the house, it isn’t by spending money, it isn’t by being lavish; it’s by BEING THERE. It doesn’t matter how you do it; cooking, reading, cuddling, watching a movie, watching videos of people doing ridiculous things, whatever. The point is that you do it together, without interruptions. Having children is a full time challenge. Having a child with Autism is a full-time challenge day and night. The least you can do for each other is unplug and BE there, together.