As I write this, my kids are in the basement with a 17-year-old high school senior. They’re having a lovely time playing and accepting her undivided attention. While they all do that, I’m upstairs at my computer, writing blog posts, checking bank balances, paying bills, making calls. All the things I can’t do with the kids underfoot. All things that distract me from the kids when they’re left undone.
The babysitter was my husband’s idea. I was losing my mind while he was away on a business trip and the result was a flurry of angry text messages to him at 5:30 AM. The gist of it was, my baby had refused to leave my side for the entire duration of his trip. I’d been in the presence of one or both of my kids for 15 hours per day and my patience was coming to its end. (Before anyone jumps down my throat about not being tolerant enough of my children, ask yourself if there’s anyone you would like to be in the same room with for 15 unbroken hours. I bet the list is pretty short. I bet it gets shorter if you have to do it for 5 days in a row and that person can’t control their own bowels. Just saying.) During the spate of angry texts, my husband told me I should hire a sitter to give me a break. I recoiled from the idea initially. For one thing, it seemed like an unjustified expense. For another, I don’t want to be that mom. The stay-at-home mom with a nanny.
Then I remembered something. I’m not just a stay-at-home mom. I’m a professional blogger. I have goals and deadlines every week and I get cash in exchange for my work. When I worked full time at an office, I had professional child care. Why is it wrong to hire a sitter to watch the kids while I do this kind of work, even if I’m doing it in my house?
Galvanized, I sent a note off to a a high school senior who’s watched my kids for date nights. We arranged for her to come by for a few hours per week to play with the kids so I can have uninterrupted time for my work and for managing the parts of my family’s life that need more than 2 consecutive seconds of my attention. The first week it struck me as weird to be ignoring the sounds of my children. But once I swallowed my knee-jerk respinse instinct, I was able to slam out four blog posts, respond to numerous emails, make a bunch of phone calls, and generally breathe for a bit.
After the first day with the sitter, something miraculous happened: I was able to turn my full and undivided attention to my husband and kids. I wasn’t listening with half my brain while the other half thought about my next promotional tweet. I stopped stressing about my baby’s craptastic nap schedule because I didn’t rely on those naps as my work time. I had all my errands done before the weekend because I wasn’t cutting everything short to get home and write. I had lunch with a friend and her baby and enjoyed every second of it. Suddenly, I was present in my life in a way I haven’t been in months. All because I hired a sitter to help me draw the line between working and momming.
Even if I wasn’t trying to balance a part-time paying gig as well as all my household and child-related responsibilities, I think a sitter would be beneficial to me. What no one tells you about being a stay at home mom is that there are a million non-kid things that you’ll need to do as well, things that are hard to do with little kids in the room. When I worked in an office, finding five minutes to call the dentist and set up an appointment was easy. With a 5-year-old and a baby? Not so much. Reviewing bank accounts and managing money are not activities that can happen with kids grabbing for the laptop. I even put off some errands because doing them with kids is too arduous. Having an extra pair of hands during business hours changes all that. All my sitter does is play with the kids. Such a simple thing but it means that for a little while, I don’t have to play with the kids and I can manage the rest of our lives.
With each passing day, I’m more aware that it really does take a village to raise a child. This babysitter is one more person in my village an I’m grateful for her.
MORE ON BABBLE