They say it takes a village to raise kids, but nobody tells you how hard it is when you don’t have much of a village. As far as grandparents go, my kids have my step-father aka Poppy and that’s it. I miss the days when going out to dinner or a movie with my husband meant I simply had to call my mom. She was always happy to watch my kids. My husband and I just celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary on May 27th and until about 4 pm that afternoon we had no idea how we would celebrate it.
Will and I have never left our kids with anyone but family or very close friends before. Call it trust issues or my tendency to watch shows like Law & Order:SVU, but I just can’t leave my kids with a stranger or even an acquaintance. We got the crazy idea to see if Will’s sister would watch our kids. They invited us over for Memorial Day weekend during our last visit so we thought we’d take a chance and see if they’d watch them for a few hours while we went out to dinner.
We played a fun game of “You call. No, you call.” Neither of us are any good at asking people for favors. I hate to be a burden to others. So Will asked and when the second his sister said yes we were like, “Great! See you in two hours.”
How far would you go for a date night? We drove all the way to Pennsylvania. It was a crazy, rushed, thrown together affair complete with a speed packing session and a very cranky toddler.
The part we banked on to make it easier for my sister-in-law was Sydney’s amazing sleep record. We typically put her to bed at 7 pm and she sleeps until about 7:30 am, but the second we tried to put her down in her pack n’ play she flipped out. She was having none of it.
My sister-in-law told us to just go and even though I felt pretty guilty about leaving her with an upset toddler, I threw my shoes on and ran out the door like I stole something. That’s how it is without a village. You go months or even years with barely any alone time with your spouse. You almost have to steal those few hours together.
I honestly forgot what it was like to go out to a nice restaurant with my husband where we didn’t have crayons, kids menus, and I didn’t have to cut my kids’ food up before I could take my first bite. I didn’t have to remind anyone to stay in their chair, eat their food, or not make a mess. I got to talk to a grown up, and not just any grown up, the man I married. It was amazing!
So I’ve learned that even if you don’t have a village, sometimes you gotta jump in the car and drive to the nearest one, even if it is hours away. It’s also important to make a village.
Even if your parents are gone or live hours away, you have to find people you love who also love your kids. Maybe that includes siblings, cousins, or friends. I have neighbors who are definitely part of the village we’ve created. If they hadn’t been out of town, I would have asked them to watch the kids on my anniversary and then Sydney could have slept peacefully in her own crib at home.
My husband and I don’t get nearly enough time alone together and that needs to change. Our marriage is the foundation of our family so I need to make it the priority. One day I may get to a point where I can find a sitter that I really trust, but until then I have to keep building this village of mine.
If you need some inspiration, check out these 10 local date night ideas.
Erin Johnson a.k.a. The No Drama Mama can be found writing on her blog The No Drama Mama and Hudson Valley Parent when she’s not wiping poop or snot off her three adorable kiddos. This “tell it like it is” mama has NO time for drama, so forget your perfect parenting techniques and follow her on Facebook or Twitter for her delightfully imperfect parenting wins and fails. Her work can also be found on The Huffington Post, Money Saving Mom, Mamapedia and Worshipful Living.