Now that you’ve been home with your infant for some weeks, you and your spouse are ready to consider going on a date night.
Yes, you’ll be thrilled by the opportunity to regain part of the lifestyle you had before Baby’s arrival, like going to a movie, for a meal or watching a play.
But chances are you’ll also be plagued by anxiety. You’ll be worried about your little one’s health, safety and emotional state.
You’ll be concerned that he won’t take his feed from the babysitter (even if Grandma is the temporary carer). And you’ll be checking your handphone every few minutes just in case you missed a call.
Remember: this is normal. The responsibility of parenthood is generally daunting for new mums and dads.
That’s why you need to plan carefully. Rely only on someone whom you can trust to look after your precious new arrival.
Your first night out isn’t the occasion to use an unfamiliar babysitter recommended by a friend – if you do, you could end up worrying even more. Instead, ask a close friend or relative who’s experienced in baby care to help out.
Related: 10 reasons to have couple time
On the night, make sure all feeding supplies and equipment are on hand, as well as plenty of spare nappies and clothes. Try to plan the time of your visit to coincide with the time of the evening that your baby tends to sleep the longest.
Of course, that’s not always possible – he may still wake up hungry or crying when you are out, despite your plans – but it’s worth a try.
Give your handphone number to the babysitter and tell her where you intend to go, and what time you expect to return.
Have realistic expectations and don’t be overly ambitious with your plans for the evening. Almost certainly, by the time you actually get everything ready for the temporary carer, have your baby settled, and are ready to go out as a couple again, you’ll be more tired than you anticipated.
Along with your anxiety about being away from your baby, you’ll probably feel tense and not in the mood for a long movie or leisurely eating a three-course meal. So, don’t set yourself up for disappointment.
Instead, just go for a cup of coffee or a quick snack at your neighbourhood cafe. An hour or two at the most is appropriate for your first night out after becoming parents.
It won’t be the most fantastic experience you’ve ever had, but it will be a pleasant break that helps to build your confidence for more date nights later on.
Related: 7 ways to babyproof your marriage
While you are out, call the babysitter at agreed intervals – say, every hour. If during one of those calls, the babysitter says that your baby is upset and screaming, you are close enough to return home reasonably quickly.
Don’t worry so much about leaving your baby in someone else’s care that you decide not to go out at all. That’s not a good long-term strategy.
Re-establishing a pattern of nights out together is an important part of your development as parents, and as a family.
So, go on, enjoy yourselves!
Related: 10 things every new parent should do