“Six kids? You guys probably don’t get out much.” We hear that all the time.
Truthfully, no matter how many children are involved, parental self-care and relationship maintenance often fall by the wayside when seemingly “more urgent” life concerns intrude.
In our house, these concerns include the many responsibilities involved in raising half a dozen children, four of whom have significant emotional, behavioral, and developmental challenges due to a very unstable childhood characterized by neglect, homelessness, multiple caregivers, and a final traumatic entry into formal foster care when the oldest was nine and the youngest was two.
However, we brought these children into our home to give them a chance for stability and healing, and we want to provide that first of all with stable caregiving and healthy relationship modeling—showing adult connections that are loving, supportive, forgiving, and nurturing.
Staying with them, and staying together. Refusing to be divided. Refusing to give up on our love for each other. Refusing to put anything—or anyone, no matter how small, cute, angry, and needy—ahead of family well-being.
In her parenting guide Raising Adopted Children, Lois Ruskai Melina says it this way—“[If] the marital relationship is neglected, it will eventually need critical attention, leaving [parents] with little energy with which to nurture their child.”
Conversely, when parents care for themselves, everybody wins.
With that in mind—we do get out. Much.
Our family’s special needs require advance planning, tight routine, and intentionality with the budget, but my husband and I have made weekly date nights a non-negotiable priority from the moment our children moved in and initiated takeover proceedings.
There has been a learning curve, but by following these steps, our family has reached a point where our babysitters rarely encounter behavioral problems, making our date nights mostly stress-free.