Finding a babysitter no child's play
Editor's note: Crystal Lewis Brown is editor of the Fort Jackson Leader and an Army spouse of five years.

FORT JACKSON, SC -- I nodded knowingly as I read this week's story about a military couple who attended a recent day trip with the USO. The husband, who recently returned from an Afghanistan deployment, said that because of his busy schedule - and his three children - it is often difficult for him and his wife to find time together.

My husband wakes up for physical training before dawn and has already left by the time I wake up. By the time he gets home from work, he sometimes has only enough time to watch our son eat dinner before it is time to get him ready for his 8:30 p.m. bedtime.

After the dinner dishes are cleared, the house has been (somewhat) tidied and the dog has been put out, there is often little time before we drag our exhausted bodies to bed. Add two or three other children into the mix and I can imagine the creativity it takes to squeeze in "me" time and couple time during a hectic schedule.

Whether you are a Soldier, civilian or family member; and whether your military spouse is a drill sergeant, support staff, instructor or staff officer, it is easy to see that many of our days are not strictly 9 to 5. But what that USO story (and a knowing co-worker) reminded me is that sometimes, we have to take time out - from our jobs, from our children - to just be a couple.

Resilience is a big deal in today's Army, and frankly, I first thought it just another buzzword. But the more I read about it, and the more I see programs aimed at helping families - both individual members and as a whole - become more resilient, I realized I was wrong. I won't get into all the details about how important resilience is to the Army and how it fits into the Army's Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Program. What I will say is that you can start your own personal mission to improve your family's resilience by doing one simple thing: Go on a date with your spouse.

I know it seems easier than done. Before I had a child of my own, I couldn't help but smirk when a mom turned down an invitation to dinner or to an event because she couldn't find a babysitter. "How hard could it be'," I thought.

After interviewing one babysitter, insulting her with my proposed wage and having her decline my offer to use her services, I realized it was not as easy as it seems.

But Fort Jackson does a good job of making it a bit easier. Its on-post hourly care services offer stressed moms and dads a respite during the day to run errands, go to lunch together or just take a nap. And two Fridays a month, the center provides a Parent's Night

Out, in which parents can drop their children off for five hours to have a date night. For those who prefer to sweat together, Child, Youth and School Services also offers its Jumping Jacks program, which provides child care on-site as parents work out at Andy's Fitness Center.

CYSSAca,!E+also offers babysitter training for children 12 to 18 through its SKIES program. Those newly trained sitters, except for 12-year-olds (who cannot be listed until age 13) are then placed on a referral list, which is provided at the Parent Central Services office, adding yet another option for harried parents.

As difficult as it may sometimes be, I've learned that a happy mom and dad make for a happy family.

Think of it this way: You could be saving your family, one date at a time. And if a lobster dinner helps make me a better wife and mother, who am I to complain'

Page last updated Wed July 28th, 2010 at 15:29