Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I Think My Babysitter Is Some Sort Of Saint. Probably The Saint Of Slow Parents. Amen.

When we lived in Ohio, we had no baby-sitter.  All our family and close friends lived at least a day’s drive away.  We fanagled crazy work schedules so we could manage to only send the girls to daycare three days a week.  My husband would work days Sunday through Friday, and I would work early afternoons until anywhere between 9:00 pm and 11:00 pm Tuesday through Saturday.  This meant we had very little time, much less any money, to go on dates anyhow.

I don’t recommend this.

When we moved back to Wisconsin, we tried to have date nights once a month.  Try is the operative word here.  We are close enough to relatives that we could call on them to babysit our kids for free.  But relatives aren’t always available when we need them, or don’t live quite close enough to do any late-night babysitting. 

Therefore, our outings with friends (even those who are also parents) tend to go something like like this*:

Arrive at our favorite brew-pub:

Hostess:  Hello! How many people are with you today?

Me: 4 adults and 4 children. We’ll need a highchair, unless we are seated in a booth.

Hostess: Ok! We’ll be able to seat you in 45 minutes!

We wait in an unobtrusive corner at the bar.  Grown-ups order drinks, while my children spin in circles for 20 minutes.  At that point Toddler decides waiting for a table is crazy-business, and bolts towards the door.  I chase after her and catch her, forcing her to become boneless as I drag her shrieking back to our corner.  Not wanting to disturb the other patrons any further, husband takes the kids outside until we’re seated.  

My friends are kind and understanding souls. “Let’s all get together at the local bier garten next time,” they say.  “It’s an enclosed area, and plenty of people bring their kids,” (this is Wisconsin, after all.)   Off we head to the bier garten.

It’s really quite pleasant.  There is an outdoor bar, but mostly the bier garten consists of lots of picnic tables.  We get a pitcher of beer to share.  Preschooler starts playing a rather subdued version of ring-around-the-rosy with one of her little friends.  Meanwhile, Toddler is trying to make a break for it. 

You see, the bier garten is fenced in, save for the entrance and exit doors.  Does Toddler eat snacks at the picnic table? No. Does she play with her sister? No.  Does she poke curious fingers at one of the many dogs also at the bier garten to enjoy a fine summer evening? No. She spends the entire time trying to run back out into the street every time  the door opens or closes.  ARE WE THAT BORING?
That was the final straw.  We wanted to go out with friends, without our kids.  We needed a babysitter. 

No problem,” I thought.  “We live in a college town.  I’ll just put an advertisement for a babysitter on the student job board.” Except instead of the bulliten board being a physical board, as it was back when I was a student and dinosaurs roamed the earth, you post your ad on a website.  Same thing, really.  Up goes the ad.

The next morning my phone rang.  It was a student interested in the babysitting position.  I got her name and number, and arranged for a visit.  Five seconds later, my phone rang.  It was a student interested in the babysitting position.  I got her name and number, and arranged for a visit. While I was on the call, I heard my call-waiting beep.  It was another student interested int he babysitting position. I I ignored the call-waiting and hung up the phone. Five seconds after that, the phone rang.  Over the course of the day I got nearly 20 calls on my home phone, 20 calls on my cell phone, and over 35 emails all from students interested in babysitting.  I had to stop answering my phone by about 10 am, lest I end up talking to hopeful college students all day.

In the end, we were able to find a really awesome babysitter.  We have utilized her services numerous times, and it has been worth every penny.

But sometimes I have no parenting common sense.

*P.S. Our outings also sometimes go something like this.

P.P.S. I feel obligated to emphasize that any restaurants we try to visit have extensive children’s menus, while maintaining a great brew-pub in a reasonably family-friendly environment.  Nevertheless, we have been forced to vacate an otherwise lovely meal more than once, when my kids start to get obnoxious.


Betty Fokker said...

Sweet Babou and I also have to go 'as a family' when we go out, too. We also favor a local pub with its own line of excellent micro-brews and a very family-friendly environment with a great kid's menu. But it does feel weird to tell people, "We're going to the brewery with the kids."

Angela@BeggingTheAnswer said...

@Betty - Yes, it does feel weird, not that it stops us from going anyways!

jacqui said...

It was obviously a really good idea to advertise the position to college students. That's quite a response to one little ad.

It's nice to be able to bring the kids if you want or need to, but still have the option to get away from the sweet little angels sometimes. It's easier to keep your sanity that way.

Janie Jones said...

While it can be expensive and less desirable to take your smalls along, I too have been in your shoes. I found any version of a "dollar store" to be the next best thing to a baby sitter for a fraction of the price.

On the way to a restaurant we'd stop at one and lay out about $5 and supply my spud with new rubber dinosaurs or barn yard animals, puzzles, crayons, coloring books, various art supplies (passing on the glitter, however), and some form of snack food we wouldn't keep at home, like Cheezits or Salerno Butter cookies. The new fun toys and snacks would generally keep her relatively occupied and well behaved for at least 45 minutes to an hour. Add a juice box and you could usually avoid having to buy the kid food at the restaurant saving money on kid meals my daughter never ate anyway. I never had a restaurant complain either about outside food for a small under age 5.

When money was really tight, we'd pack a picnic basket of kid friendly items and "move in" to a restaurant. When ever the spud would fuss a different item would appear from the basket to enthrall her for 10 or 15 minutes.

Then one year around Christmas time the local Megalo-mart type store had portable DVD players on sale. This plus a cheap pair of head phones has allowed this mom an indefinite number of pleasant evenings out, sans babysitter. An investment worth it's weight in babysitters.

Sometimes we still had meltdowns, but over all either plan usually worked pretty good. A few moments of pre outing planning for kid entertainment could ensure reasonable enjoyment for all. Of course the friends and restaurant employees tended to look at us oddly at first, but after a while they'd realize the merit of the bags and baskets of kid friendly items and be all like, "Wow, your daughter is really good."

No, Momma just plans family outings like some people plan military maneuvers.

Lizbeth said...

It is soooo worth it sometimes to go out, alone, without kids. We did it once but then had to stop. Turns out we had nothing to talk about!

Angela@BeggingTheAnswer said...

@jacqui - I had no clue we'd get so many responses from one little ad!

@Janie - We have one of those portable dvd players, we use it for long car rides. Best. Investment. Ever. Also, prior to having kids Husband and I were all "OMG we'll NEVER have one of those dvd players for the car." Now we could make sweet love to the thing. Shows what we know!

@Lizbeth - Now that I've done it, I start to wonder why in the world I never bothered to get a babysitter before.

dbs said...

Despite trying to forget it, I remember this phase in my life.

chemgirl said...

as much as I want kids, I'm kind of dreading the fact that I won't be able to just pick up and go whenever I want.....

I'm sure the smiles and love from my future child will all be worth it..

it will, right?


Marianna Annadanna said...

I think I remember when you were going to meet one/all of these people. Glad it worked out. I'd babysit for you if I could. You;d have to pay me well though.

Angela@BeggingTheAnswer said...

@dbs - I know I'm supposed to treasure every moment, but I just don't think this is one of those.

@chemgirl - OF COURSE IT'S WORTH IT!!!

@Marianna - you got me. I've had this post in the hopper for, like, a month now. Just hadn't the time to finish it up until now :)

Stasha said...

We are due to go out on Friday for our second date ever since our sin was born 3 and a half years ago. Of course I have the worst case of throat infection and husband is bound to catch it by then.
Our son's preschool now has Friday night PJ's party between 5 and 9 once a month. It is a great idea. Sometimes I wish to have someone to stay with my son the night so we could go down to Seattle to actually do something interesting.
It is great you found a good baby-sitter!

Anonymous said...

So far, our kid likes food so much he just sits and eats. Not as gross as Augustus Gloop, but getting there.

When he gets bigger, I'm going to have to try your bulletin board trick. That many applicants and I should be able to devise some kind of wicked mind game for them to entertain myself as well.

Angela@BeggingTheAnswer said...

@stasha - that pj party thing sounds AWESOME!!! I hope you both feel better soon.

@MamaMash - I had no clue there would be so many college students interested in baby-sitting!

Robin @ Farewell, Stranger said...

So much of that sounds like a nightmare. Except for the part about actually finding a babysitter.

I hate taking my kid to restaurants - he can't sit for anything!

Angela@BeggingTheAnswer said...

@Robin - My kids are usually ok once we sit down, but I actually hate it when the waitress brings their food early, because once they finish eating, they want to go home, and Husband and I only just started eating!