Babysitting: The Barrier to Having a Life Outside of Being a Special Parent

February 5, 2008 Kyron 4 Comments

I was over at Michele’s site today and reading her Friday gripe session which was about her desire to keep the marriage alive by having some date nights but the obstacle that babysitters had become.  It occurred to me that before Katherine’s aide Sharon was around, what a work around we had to go through to deal with the very same issue. Of course family was a critical resource but here are some others you might think about when you too need to get a much needed break and take an evening to recharge with your spouse and/or friends.

  1. Family – reaching out to family is of course where you go first. They are likely to know your child best and be able to deal with their special needs.
  2. Friends – trade weeks with one of your friends – maybe they’d like a night out without their kids too.
  3. Form a babysitting co-op (Smart Mom’s Babysitting Co-op is just one example)- with a few couples. We found other couples to participate largely through school, daycare, early intervention classes. We made up little fliers and asked for other parents to join. It went well because we were far from the only people who had this quandry.
  4. Teachers/ParaPro’s - we found that several of Katherine’s teachers/parapros were frequently looking for ways to supplement their income – a night of babysitting was a way to do it pretty easily. Also think about your child’s therapists. If they aren’t interested in babysitting they may know others who are or recommendations of those others have used. Ask discreetly so as to not jeopardize anyone’s job
  5. Church – whether a Sunday School Teacher or just a kind person who you know from church (maybe even the minister’s wife) could be just the ticket. My choir director used to like to babysit Katherine occasionally. They both had lots of love for music – and each other!
  6. Local Senior Citizens Center – retired teachers (especially special education teachers) might just be the ticket. Another possibility here is that a senior who doesn’t have grandchildren might relish the idea of being “adopted”. Now obviously I’m not suggesting that you leave your PDD child with a 90 year old wheelchair bound grandma type but my dad at age 69 can still do what it takes to handle Katherine at 16. There are pairing scenarios that will work well.
  7. Community Mental Health – many have respite programs. The ARCH National Respite Locator may assist you as well
  8. American Red Cross – They offer babysitting classes along with first aid and CPR – They typically run a graduate list.
  9. Disability Support Groups – some local chapters may have lists of people who are recommended as sitters with a familiarity in a particular syndrome, disability etc.
  10. Local College – an education or special education degree candidate may be especially interested in gaining useful hands-on experience. This option may also give you more confidence because of the age level of college students vs. High school students.

Remember, being a parent is hard work even if you don’t have a special needs child. Taking time to recharge and maintain your marriage in my opinion is a critical component of being a good parent. Hopefully this list gives you at least a starting point for finding help to do just that. What other methods have you used to get babysitting for your special child? Share!!

Related posts:

  1. Thanks to Special Needs Parent!
  2. The New Special Parent
  3. The Ability to Endure… Just like a Special Parent
Categories : Strategies

Currently there are "4 comments" on this Article:

  1. Deana says:

    this is something my husband and i are working on for this year. unfortunately my mother is about the only person who feels comfortable enough to stay with my son. the problem is she lives 12 hours away…and now we are moving across the globe…it will be even further.

    so it is definitely something we will have to seek out! because in 4 years, we’ve never had a single night alone!

  2. Brian says:

    As a Dad of a special needs child and husband, I would also suggest it is good to surprise your wife every once in awhile with a night out. This probably goes for every husband but there is a lot of extra stress when you have someone with special needs you care for. There is nothing better then a night for Mom when it is not in the plans.

    Let’s face it – there is no question a disproportionate amount of the caregiving burden goes on Mom’s.

  3. Kyron says:


    Absolutely need to work on it – time together ALONE is critical for your marriage. Caring for our kids is an enormous work load even if it IS a blessing. I can imagine with the move this will get a bit more difficult. Hopefully you’ll find some support when you get settled in and can work toward this.


  4. Kyron says:


    What a fortunate wife you must have. It does help for the mom’s to have some time out alone as well. You are absolutely right that there’s extra stressors on parents of special needs kids. Hopefully your suggestion will ring a bell for some husbands who are going to make some wives very happy shortly!


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