20 Alternative Date Night Ideas for Parents of Children with Special Needs

It’s not that likely you’ll be able to get a babysitter to watch your special kid, sure. Work conflicts and appointments and homework and routines are all going to stand in your way, absolutely. The effort to go out is probably not worth all the worry you’ll be doing and all the chaos you’ll find when you get home, you bet. Date night is something you figure you’ll get back to sometime, eventually, in the future fantasy world where you are not needed by another small human every second of the day.

So, you don’t get out much.

Still, you know that it’s important to keep your relationship strong. Modeling love and friendship and enjoyment of one another is essential to helping your child form healthy relationships one day. Becoming platonic co-caretakers isn’t good for your marriage or for your stress level. Neither is never getting a moment to yourselves.

So imagine with us—if you did somehow manage to get a night out with your spouse, in some wondrous alternate universe, what on earth would you do? Like everything else about your family, chances are your date night would be unique, atypical, and specific to your special-needs experience.

Which of these enchanted evenings would you pick?

1. Go to a fancy hotel and have a nice nap.
2. Go to the library and read research on your child’s disability to each other.
3. TP a child study team member’s house.
4. Do a scavenger hunt going from store to store looking for that one oddball thing your child is obsessed with.
5. Enjoy a meal without constantly having to beg a child to eat or criticize a child’s table manners.
6. Go to a class together to learn how to fold old IEPs into origami.
7. Go to a movie and … have a nice nap.
8. Take dance lessons so you have something to distract and make your child laugh with when a meltdown’s coming on.
9. Drive for a while in any direction and imagine, just for a short time, that you’re running away from it all. (Then turn around and go back.)
10. Attend a special-needs support group meeting or check out one of those conferences you always mean to go to but never have time.
11. Get a cup of coffee at the bookstore and browse the special-needs shelves.
12. Go to a restaurant and glare at other people’s noisy kids.
13. Go to a restaurant and eat all those foods your child can’t have and you feel terrible eating in front of him or her.
14. Find a quiet romantic spot and have all those arguments you can’t have in front of the kids because they’ll stress out or repeat everything to the wrong person.
15. Visit a fancy grocery store and spend a luxuriously long time shopping and sampling.
16. Go to a concert or a play and … have a nice nap.
17. Review insurance paperwork by candlelight.
18. Have professional photos taken so you will always remember that one night you both managed to get out of the house at the same time.
19. Go to a super-loud sporting event so you won’t fall asleep if you sit down for more than a few minutes. (Good luck with that.)
20. Just go sit in the car in the garage for a little while and hold hands … you know there’s going to be a crisis and you’ll have to go back in.

When’s the last time you had a date night?

Tell us about it in the comments, even if it was only in your dreams. Or, you know what? Close the computer, walk away, and go do something sweet for your spouse right now. We take our date seconds when we can get ’em.

Terri Mauro

Written on 2017/02/14 by:

Terri Mauro

Terri Mauro is the blog manager for Friendship Circle. She was previously the About.com guide to Parenting Special Needs, and is the author of 50 Ways to Support Your Child's Special Education and The Everything Parents Guide to Sensory Processing Disorder. You can read more of her work on her website Mothers With Attitude and listen to her every weekday on the Parenting Roundabout Podcast. Terri has two children with special needs adopted from Russia in 1994.