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.