January 3rd, 2015

planet

why I like hiring random teenagers to watch my kids

I was looking back at my 2014 new years resolutions and this was one:

7) Hire babysitters more often. Go out. Have fun.

I actually forgot this was a resolution! We certainly did it - maybe I did it as a resolution, got in the habit of it, and forgot I was doing it as a resolution? Those are the best kind!

I never had a job for a company when I was in high school - my parents weren't big fans of the idea, I didn't have a car, it seemed like the kids I knew who worked just worked to pay for their cars anyway so it was kind of a vicious cycle... get a car for your job, keep job because you can't afford car without it, and you need the car to visit your far off friends who you met because of your job, and time for activities and volunteer work is shoved off the list.

Instead, I babysat neighborhood kids. a LOT. sometimes every friday and saturday night with an occasional weekday. I didn't make minimum wage but I got to set my own hours, take the jobs I wanted, learn about what crazy kids, and watch MTV if they were small enough to not learn cuss words (we didn't have cable at my house either).

And growing up, my parents hired teenage babysitters. Some were fun to play with, some ignored us entirely, but all of them kept us alive. I got to see "Top Gun" from my parents video collection by telling a sitter that we were totally allowed to watch it.

So I have fond memories of this all working out.

Now I am a parent with small children and no family in town, and Marc and I quickly felt the isolation when we started having kids. Our "family in town" friends practically complained about having ANOTHER grandma night so they were forced to eat dinner with just the two of them and then see a movie, marc and I going insane.

We didn't know babysitters, so we asked around. Somewhat aggressively, I'll admit... one girl we like we met because I was at a work meeting talking about the part of town I lived in, and this guy said "Oh, I live about three blocks from you! Small world!" I sized him up by age and asked right then and there if he *happened* to have teenage offspring who babysat, just joking you know how parents are! But he did. And he gave me his daughter's number and said I could text her. And I did.

We also found some by asking friends, getting names of church nursery volunteers, really any way I could figure out how to not sound stalkery I did it.

People complain about babysitters being expensive, raising the cost of going out... suddenly a $30 movie night is $60. But that's not how I think of it. First, I've noticed that when a random party comes up that I really want to go to, I NEED to have a list of 3-4 babysitters who I've called on somewhat recently, and to have that you need to stay in contact with them. That means hiring a babysitter about once a month, just so you stay on their map.

Second, paying a high school or college kid money is a good cause. I haven't noticed heiresses out babysitting neighbor kids.

Third, Marc and I need some us time to keep our sanity and this, for us, is worth more than just the dinner bill. We're not just buying dinner when we go out, we're buying our mental health back. Love our kids, but we need a break. So that's worth more to us.

All in all I'm happy about what we've got going on. Sure, this got easier once the baby was weened around the early part of last year, so maybe our babysitter rotation was less a resolution and more timing, after we got out of tiny babyville. But we need to keep it going.

It takes a village, right people? I feel totally great about having more babysitters.