I’ve always been skittish about using babysitters. We don’t have tons of family in town so I should be better at this than I am. Of course, we have had a few over the years that are absolutely treasured, like a part of our family. They seamlessly stride right into the flow of our family and what a gift that is. But those few jewels have been rare. The ones who are so great probably set up an unrealistic standard for the rest of them.
I find that we rarely take a date night and are always scrambling to find coverage when our work responsibilities overlap. Most of the time it seems easier to drag our kids to work events than to ask for someone to come to the house. Why? I suppose I have trust issues.
Recently, I realized my husband and I hadn’t had a date since March. It’s not about going out or eating out or being out on the town anymore, just time together without interruption. Paying for a babysitter means we can leave our normal grounds and see the world, even if it’s just the park down the street, together.
I texted a friend who had mentioned she has too many babysitters to count. She sent me some names, and I started texting complete strangers. What do I even say?
I introduce myself, share a photo of my two boys thinking perhaps their sweet smiles will be motivating, and ask “are you free Saturday night?” “What’s your rate?” “Also, do you have COVID-19?”
My armpits start sweating. Should I have researched her on social media? Should I ask if they have been hanging out in groups? It’s probably overboard to ask for proof of a negative COVID test before she arrives, right?
I pay for an extra thirty minutes on the front end, so I can take my time explaining dinner, bedtime routine, and showing her around the house. Maybe it’s a waste of money, but I hate feeling rushed leaving the house. I make it pretty clear what is OK and what is off-limits, share some ideas of things the kids like to do. Show her around the house, make sure jammies are set out and stuffed animals are ready for bed.
I then ask her to send me updates throughout the evening. I’d much rather be bothered with a silly question or a quick update than hear nothing. If my boss did that to me, I’d feel like he was micromanaging… maybe I am micromanaging my babysitter, but these are MY LIVING OFFSPRING! Back when I babysat as a teenager, I’d always call my own mom first if I didn’t know what to do. I believed calling the parents and interrupting their date showed I was some kind of failure.
We leave the house and I question, did I even tell her the kids names?!
At the end of the evening, everything is fine. Of course I should have known it would be. Now, I wish I had been more relaxed throughout the night. It feels special to have had a date; I forgot how nice that is. Maybe this one will come back again. I ask the kids the next morning, “Would you like to have that babysitter come back another time?” They give me a look. “I don’t mean tonight, sillies. Like maybe in a few weeks.”
Let’s not be crazy.