Obviously, it's important for parents to have some time for themselves, whether it's an hour an evening or a whole weekend away. Because you're partners in life, you need to be on the same page and share a bond -- and rekindle that bond when necessary. You're not just a parent. You're an individual and you're also one-half of a couple. So you'll probably need romantic attention and adult conversation.
Maintaining a strong, healthy marriage with kid-free time actually makes better parents. Ellen Kriedman, a marriage counselor who wrote "How Can We Light a Fire When the Kids Are Driving Us Crazy," says that "well-adjusted children come from a home where Mommy and Daddy truly love each other" [source: Cohen].
Being just a parent instead of a well-rounded person with hobbies outside of the home and the office can damage a marriage and the emotional health of everyone involved. Frazzled parents do not make for the best parents, however good their intentions may be. Parents need relief from the rigors of life, and according to some counselors, you can smother a child with too much "helicopter parenting" [source: Stechyson]. You've heard the adage to let babies "cry themselves out." The same goes for children. A child grows more self reliant if he or she gets the chance to trust him or herself. For example, if you never leave your children with a sitter or a grandparent, they won't learn that it's OK when you leave them. But if you and your spouse do go out to see a movie, the two of you get a big refresher and the child gets a self-esteem boost by handling a new situation.
There are also long-term benefits for a child when parents take some time away. Kids look to their parents as role models, and that includes proper adult behavior and parenting. When kids grow up and become parents, they'll recollect how you behaved. If you were calm, collected and rarely frazzled because you kept your life in proper balance, and you were affectionate, respectful and deeply connected to your spouse, they'll remember that example and follow suit.
So, now you know that it's OK to have a little date night or an hour to yourself. And you'd love to dine in a restaurant that doesn't serve tater tots. But how? You're busy. And exhausted. Ah, but there are ways! Read about them on the next page.