Back in my day, I was a pretty in-demand babysitter. Friday nights were all about getting the kids to bed and relaxing with my friends Corey, Topanga, and Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Getting paid to have the remote to myself – holla!
As the years went on, I would babysit for my professor’s kids, kids with special needs, a family with 5 children (omg), a kid who was obsessed with twirling my hair around his sticky little fingers, and 2 different sets of preemie twins. I have many happy memories from my time with each of those children (even Mr. Sticky Fingers).Then I started a 9 to 5, got married, welcomed my own children, and put my babysitting days behind me. Well, mostly.
I’ve recently had the pleasure of babysitting for some wonderful friends of mine and it occurred to me how much I’ve missed it. Strange thing to say considering I’ve got a houseful of kids 24/7, huh? But there is something very different about babysitting vs. parenting. When I am babysitting, the children are my one and only priority. There are no phone calls to make, emails to answer, or laundry to fold. The only thing I have to do for those hours is keep the children alive and happy (okay, and fed, dressed, changed…).
That ‘happy’ piece is a big one. There is something so much more playful about being a babysitter than being a mom. You see, while I do have to make sure that the children eat their dinner and get to bed on time, I don’t have to parent them while doing it. So when I encounter grumbling about brushing teeth and heading upstairs, there is no need to pull out my, “I expect you to listen and not talk back when it’s time for bed” lecture. Instead, I grab a piece of paper, fold it into a hat, and off we go on an imaginary safari! Shhhh!! Tiptoe and quiet voices, we mustn’t wake the animals! Anyone spot any giraffes??
Narrowly avoiding the tragic outcome that would have been waking a lion curled up close by, we arrive in our beds with smiles and happy memories to turn into sweet dreams.
I found that stepping back into my old babysitting shoes was refreshing, and a good reminder that sometimes all it takes is a little fun. We wear so many different hats as mothers and I’ll admit that my ‘playful’ one hasn’t gotten much wear lately. So this weekend I think I’ll set a date to do a little more babysitting – this time with my own kiddos.