Before having my son, my husband and I were the epitome of a D.I.N.K. (Double Income No Kids) couple. We both had steady careers and were definitely about having fun. We would go out to bars, restaurants, or friends’ houses for a good time EVERY weekend. People would joke that they would wait to see what photos I would post on Sunday night to Facebook.
This lifestyle came to a screeching halt when we had our son Maximus. Our focus became late night feedings rather than late night dancing. I also learned very quickly that a child does not care if you had a few too many glasses of wine.
Once the craziness of having a newborn slowed down, I realized that I needed a date with my husband. I did not need to be painting the town red but just a dinner out of the house to feel like me (and not a mom).
So once you have this feeling of freedom, you come to an obstacle every parent faces: Finding a babysitter.
Who can you ask?
Who would you trust?
Will they follow your schedule?
How will my child survive without me?
How much do they charge?
Many of these questions race through your head especially as a first time mother. I am here to give you a few pointers on how to ease your fears and where to look.
First off, I am going to tell you the truth NOBODY will ever do as good of a job as you when it comes to watching your child. You are your child/children’s mother. You know every nuance, cry and soothing technique which works for your child. You know it better and that is the fact. But for you to go out, you need to find someone who will keep your child alive and healthy and who will follow your schedule.
When people have that fear of leaving I say ease your fear by starting out small. Have a babysitter come watch your child/children on a Saturday while you run some errands or get a pedicure. That way you are not too far away but can start the process of easing your fears of separation. Once you do this a couple of times and realize that your child will be fine, you can move on to longer stretches of time.
As a working mom I cherish the time I have with my son since I work forty hours a week. To have an even balance, my husband and I usually book dates for when Max is sleeping. My son is in bed by 7pm which is wonderful. We can put him down and then go out without losing that precious time. I tell other mothers this all the time: if you feel guilty, wait until they are in bed. Hopefully your “guilt” will be eased because the reality is the kid is sleeping and does not care where you are.
My husband and I have a long list of babysitters who we use. People ask me how we acquired this list and I always share the basic, honest truth: You have to ASK!
Ask your family.
Ask your friends.
Ask daycare providers.
Ask your neighbors.
Ask other parents.
Ask your coworkers if they have daughters.
Ask everyone if they know someone responsible who likes to babysit.
From day one my husband and I asked people we knew. The following people are on our list of people to watch our son:
- My mother and mother-in-law
- My father (He did survive four daughters and is great with Max.)
- My sisters
- My husband’s cousins
- My cousins
- My friends
- My husband’s co-worker’s daughters
- My neighbor’s daughters
You can never know who is out there to help you and your partner have a kid free night. The biggest problem I find with mothers (especially new ones) is them not asking and not trusting. How is it that we are all on this stressful, wonderful journey of motherhood but we refuse to reach out and ask for help? We feel like it is a burden but in all reality, most people who are in your life (and who love you) are willing to help.
Do not forget your non-mommy friend,s too! They are usually the most offended that I do not ask. I used to babysit before I had children and SHOCKER: The kids were fine! Ask yourself: Were you incapable of watching a child before you had kids of your own? Did something awful happen just because you were not a mother?
So that is a start on the babysitter search. I will continue the next blog with other questions including:
- How much do I pay?
- What do I need for the babysitter to do a good job?
- Why haven’t I gone out earlier??