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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.


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 3rd, 2015 11:10 pm (UTC)
What a fabulous entry!! I have many many wonderful memories of being a babysitee and a babysitter both and I hadn't thought of them in years. You reminded me of so many wonderful times. And I applaud you for keeping the tradition alive for both your children and their sitters.

I wonder what ever happened to those girls and those kids... Anne Baxter had long fingernails and if we were really good, she would give us back scratches which we LOVED! And John, I sat with when he was an infant, grew into a playful toddler who then got stolen by autism before autism was really even a thing.

Thanks so much for making my Saturday afternoon a glorious trip down babysitter memory lane!!

And, p.s. I love your Etsy Pounce!. I have it on my bookmarks bar and probably hit it up a couple of times a week just to see what creative juices are pouring new. So thanks for that, too!
Jan. 3rd, 2015 11:28 pm (UTC)
I have the damndest time finding kids... the couple of teens next door seriously are never available now that they're in high school. We tried advertising at the local community center and we got one bite, only one! and she lied to us and I was like, uh nope, seriously you want to watch my kid and you're lying to us already? nope. sigh. Sometimes I contemplate making C go join a church or something to get access to those teens. Most of the neighborhood is full of retired folks and I do sometimes impinge on them if I really need to, but they've got lives. Finally I found one of her daycare people who is up for watching most times we want to go out, we pay her $15/hour but it's totally worth it.
Jan. 4th, 2015 01:41 am (UTC)
I should do this more often. Though I am more skeptical than you are about the ability of someone to keep my children alive, since I find it difficult to keep them alive (what with the dangerous climbing, things they stick in their mouths and whatnot...)

Seriously though, I should do this more often...
Jan. 4th, 2015 05:20 am (UTC)
A friend once gave me the shocked "you use high school kids?!" attitude, and I thought "what are they expected to do? Just keep them alive, right?"

I love our babysitters. And I think you left the fourth reason: kids need to know that their parents are adults in love who like being each other, and enjoying adult activities and adult time. I think it's a positive way to view relationships and recognize that those adults are not just parents that they live with, but sisters, mothers, employees , etc..
Jan. 4th, 2015 10:46 am (UTC)
One of the biggest reasons I appreciated being home-schooled in high school was that I was a hot commodity as a weekday/daytime babysitter. My sister and I made $6-7/hour, in the late 90's! I paid quite a way of my way through college that way.

I'd love to hire teenagers to babysit Gwen, but have also faced with the problem of how to find them -- it doesn't help that we've been moving country too often, and thus there's also been a language barrier. In Heidelberg, the family above us had two girls who were like 11 and 13, and if we'd stayed there the full five years, I'd fully been planning to ask one of them in the next year or two -- esp. since their parents would likely to be home while they were sitting, and we'd likely be just going around the corner to our favorite pub for the evening.

I did stalk a babysitter once: In Tilburg the employee Christmas present from the university was a gift certificate to one of the on-campus restaurants, so the three of us went out one night. Sitting next to us was a mom and her (college-aged) daughter, who thought Gwen was adorable. I ended up screwing up my courage and asking if she'd be interested in babysitting sometime, and came away with her email. Unfortunately, this was about a month before we moved to Heidelberg, and the one time in there that I asked if she could...happened to be the anniversary of her father's death and she said she and her mom always stayed in together on that day. Whoops!

But now that we're mostly settled in Durham, I need to start looking around. Maybe some of my colleagues who have teenaged kids actually live in the city, rather than a suburb, and so would be available.
Jan. 4th, 2015 02:01 pm (UTC)
When I was growing up, there were courses (two days long) from the red cross for teenagers for babysitting.
I was not interested in babysitting so I never did one, but I think they are a good thing.
Jan. 4th, 2015 11:35 pm (UTC)
We had those in California too, I never took one but it was generally considered A Good Thing for teenagers who wanted to babysit.

My husband was babysitting at 11 (!) because he hit his growth spurt young and when you are over 6 feet tall at 11, people just assume you are much older.
Jan. 5th, 2015 01:59 am (UTC)
two days, egads! I'm a parent and haven't had that much training lol.

lots of hospitals have courses though, just a few hours, I remember taking one :) teaches you how to unchoke a kid, that sort of stuff.
Jan. 5th, 2015 07:28 am (UTC)
they have those here but I'm not allowed to advertise "hey I need a babysitter" at them. I have no idea how you find the kids who take them if you're not allowed to do that.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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