With a family as large as ours and a schedule that seems full no matter what we plan, the times when we have a babysitter are usually not so that we can have couple time. Often, we end up getting groceries, or things for someone's birthday, or attending foster parent training, or supplies for a project, or a host of other things.
But every once in a while we get a chance to go on an actual date. To see a movie, or eat at a place that doesn't have a dollar menu, or just do something fun together. It's fun, but we always feel guilty about the expense. If you add up a few hours of babysitting, plus a meal or movie tickets, it adds up fast. Sometimes we ask the babysitter if she'll just play with the kids at the nearby park, or downstairs, so Daniel and I can watch a DVD or play a video game in our room. Sometimes we park somewhere a few blocks away and then take a long walk around the neighborhood. I've tried planning special time when the kids are asleep, but someone always either wakes up or ends up being sick.
It's almost impossible to plan time in advance. We never know when someone involved in our foster kids' cases will call and tell us that they need to come see the kids in our home or we need to take them somewhere or we need to rush paper work over to them. During the school year it's even worse, because the school adds it's own list of things that we MUST do. Recently, "Junie B.'s" caseworker signed us up to participate in a study by Denver University psych students. After the interviews are over, if they choose "Junie B." to participate further, she'll have two nights a week that she has to be at workshops with other "at risk" kids. On top of parent visits and counseling, that will leave one day a week for her to do all her home work and will mean that she doesn't have a day left to participate in AWANA. And this is supposed to be beneficial to her?
I don't know how other foster families make it without a good list of babysitters to help them get an occasional hand with the insanity that is their weekly schedule.