For many parents of children with special needs, planning a date night can be especially anxiety provoking, as preparing their children for this experience takes additional time and effort.
Here are a few tips to help this process go more smoothly for a child with special needs:
Prepare a special box full of things your child really loves but does not get to access regularly. Your child may enjoy helping to identify activities or toys to put in the box. This will also help your sitter know good activities for your child.
Write a story about the events of the night. This will help you explain to your child what will happen while you are gone. You might include details about the sitter, the fun activity box and information about when you will get back. Adding pictures to this story can help a child better understand what will happen during your night out.
Start small. It might be best for the first time away to do a quick dinner near home and build up from there. If your child is anxious about the time you’re gone, starting small and gradually increasing to longer dates will allow your child to adjust one step at a time.
If you aren’t quite ready to hire a sitter for that special date night, consider local respite options. Easter Seals Crossroads offers a respite program for children with special needs and their siblings every Friday night at various locations throughout the city. More about this free service can be found at www.eastersealscrossroads.org.
Preparing your child in advance not only helps him or her know what to expect, but can also help ease your mind, allowing you to relax and truly enjoy your special date night – which ultimately makes you a happier and more effective parent!