The Need for Babysitters

by The Momma on September 26, 2011

I was reading a blog the other day (I wish I remember which one), and it made me absolutely drop my jaw in disbelief. Because, according to that blogger, she and her husband have NEVER left their 5 year old with a babysitter and had only left her with family for less than an hour (and that was for an emergency of some kind). In 5 years, they had never had a date night, never left their kid, never spent time alone together out of the house.

*record scratch*

Look, I understand people who can’t afford a babysitter. It’s not like it’s cheap to hire someone to watch your kid–we lament all the time the fact that a babysitter means that you can make a $30 movie experience into a $60 one, just by going (which is why we don’t go to the movies that often anymore). I GET that.

But…never? I mean, not for an anniversary? Or birthday? Not even if it means saving up?

And if you can afford one and just…don’t?

I just don’t understand this. Maybe it’s because we left the Noodle with one of his grandmothers when he was a wee 5 day old (we went to a movie before she went back home. It was short, sweet, and awesome). We hired our first babysitter when the Noodle was around 2.5 months old. Since then, we’ve left him with babysitters, grandmothers, grandfathers, aunts, hell, anyone we trust who is willing to take our money or give us a date night when they visit (or when we visit them). I can’t imagine not taking the occasional time away from the kid.

We don’t have family nearby, so we have a handful of babysitters we trust–they all came with recommendations from other parents and we met them before leaving the kid alone with them. Most are daycare teachers during the day, or nannies. The Noodle loves them all, and we love them for that.

But mostly, we love them because they give us a break. They take the kid while we go do…whatever we do. A movie, a dinner, an art show, or even just wandering the town, a babysitter or family member gives us a few hours of being a couple, instead of a family of three.

I don’t understand people who aren’t willing to do that. ESPECIALLY if they have family nearby (that isn’t wacko, of course). I think it’s one of the most important ways we spend our money–something that allows us to talk like grownups, to not be on the kid’s schedule, to reconnect as a couple, not just as the Momma and the Daddy. And while I don’t think a babysitter will ever be as good with the Noodle as we are…I don’t need them to be. I need them to be competent, keep my kid safe and relatively happy, make sure the house doesn’t burn down after he goes to bed, and not go snooping through my drawers. Anything beyond that is really just a bonus.

Am I just crazy?

 

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Andrew September 26, 2011 at 12:53 pm

No, you’re not crazy. I still remember going out for the very first time with my wife after we had our first son. I think he was 2 at the time perhaps? We went to dinner at a restaurant maybe 7 minutes from our house. Her parents were babysitting and she must’ve called at least 4 times during our hour and a half dinner. (I honestly think she called from the driveway as we were leaving!)

Anyways, I understand it’s tough. Especially at first. And especially when they’re very young. But once they’re five, yeah, I don’t really see why you can’t trust a babysitter. The only reason I could really see is safety. Our oldest son has severe food allergies, so we’re super careful with him and even with relatives babysitting, it’s extremely scary. At some point, we’ll probably have to hire a traditional sitter, but if we didn’t have relatives, I assume we would’ve found one already.

Being parents is an extremely rewarding experience and yes it’s a monstrous responsibility. But the worst thing you can do is trade your marriage for parenting. You need to remember that both can (and need to) co-exist. So definitely take some “us” time with your significant other when you can.

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TechyDad September 27, 2011 at 12:26 pm

Even worse, if you trade your marriage for parenting then stress will rise in your household between you and your spouse. This stress will inevitably leak out in front of (if not at) your kids. Basically, by neglecting your marriage, you’ll damage the very parenting that you were trying to place first and foremost in your life!

Every parent needs time to unwind and not be “the momma” or “the daddy” from time to time. Sometimes, this means that one spouse takes the kids while the other relaxes. Sometimes it means that both spouses go out while the kids stay with a family member or babysitter.

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TechyDad September 27, 2011 at 5:29 am

About the only reason we don’t have a baby sitter is because our house is too messy for anyone to come in and watch the kids. (It’s a constant battle against clutter and we’re both so exhausted at the end of the day that the battle seems to be slowly but surely shifting against us.)

That said, we have left the boys with B’s parents (who live less than a mile away) from time to time. They’ve stayed there for dinner while we got some husband & wife time out. We even had a whole no-kids Disney World trip planned. We were going to drive to my parents’ house, drop the kids off there and then fly to Disney to celebrate our 10th anniversary. (The kids have been to Disney multiple times and that’s where we went for our honeymoon.) Sadly, Hurricane Irene forced us to cancel our plans and it looks like we won’t be able to reschedule. Might opt for a long weekend away instead, but not until November at the earliest.

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clara September 27, 2011 at 7:15 am

I have (over)used my parents for babysitting — because sourcing and training a teenager just seems like too much work for a child under 3. But I have many, many prospects in the 15 – 17 age group in my neighbourhood.

You GOTTA get out of the house without kids. I don’t know why people would resist this very natural urge.

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kate September 27, 2011 at 11:04 am

Good thought on this. I am shocked by the number of friends we have that don’t leave their child – ever. Our breaks and date nights away from Beckett are our marriage’s saving grace, my sanity’s saving grace and the key to keeping life balanced. I am first and foremost a parent, but there’s a lot more to me, too. :)

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