When my older daughter was born four years ago, it took me months to consent to allow a babysitter into our home so my husband and I could go out for dinner, and only then did I agree to it because he insisted it was a special occasion (“I’ll only turn 40 once,” or some bullsh!t like that, he claimed).
We went out to a special-occasion, fancy-schmancy restaurant, and I promptly wept in my sushi and sake the entire time. I imagined my months-old infant at home sobbing dramatically because I’d abandoned her. I was convinced she couldn’t eat or sleep because I wasn’t the one feeding or rocking her. The emotional scars would be like tattoos on Rihanna — seemingly everywhere.
Turns out, I was right. Kind of. She did cry and fuss a bit, according to the babysitter, but ultimately she fell asleep. Me? Not so much. It took me a few years after that to really ever leave her with a babysitter again, and on the occasions when I did, I’d find myself lying awake at night before and after worrying, fretting and then worrying some more about every little thing that could possibly go wrong anywhere and at any time.
Four years later, I have another daughter, who is now one, but this time it only took me a matter of weeks to leave her home with someone else — anyone else, actually.
Here are 10 reasons why I have a babysitter (quite unapologetically, I might add):
It’s good for her 1 of 10It's good for her to spend time with me. But since she spends all her time with me, it's also good for her to not spend time with me. Other people are interesting and cool.
Or at least they're different, and different is good. Or at the very least they're just plain different, which, as long as it's not bad, is good.
Errands 2 of 10Yes, I can and do schlep my toddler with me pretty much everywhere I go. When I get that occasional trip to the supermarket or drug store without her, however? It's almost like a day at the spa, it's that relaxing.
It’s good for me 3 of 10This can't be overstated: I adore my daughter. To bits and pieces. But I get lost in being her mom sometimes without remembering that I have friends and a whole host of interests that have nothing to do with being a parent.
Sometimes, in the moment, I don't like leaving her because she tends to get startled when I hand her to someone else or put her down. However, I usually I forget about her the second I close my car door and take off. Since it's never for more than a few hours at a time, I don't feel guilty.
Besides, there's not much sweeter than being greeted after I've been missed.
The Real Housewives 4 of 10I mean, yes, I'm a real housewife. But it's nice to get lost in a world of other housewives whose realities couldn't be farther from mine, whose drama is much more dramatic than mine.
On those occasions, my husband acts as babysitter so I can disappear upstairs and delve deeply into my DVR for a few hours of Bravo and other bad TV that just feels so good.
(Who says you have to always pay for your babysitter, or that you have to leave the house to enjoy the benefits of one?)
Photo credit: BravoTV.com
It’s good for my marriage 5 of 10My husband and I juggle a lot between our jobs, kids and a few outdoor pursuits. Despite the best advice of friends, family and experts, our marriage often comes last. Getting a babysitter once a month or so means we can go out sans kids and be reminded that we still exist, and that we still have a really good thing going.
Red wine 6 of 10Sometimes, every once in a while, I need a glass of wine (or seven). It's best my toddler isn't with me at those times.
For obvious reasons.
Flexibility is good, but so is inflexibility 7 of 10Necessity dictates that I drag my younger daughter with me most places. As with many second children, she's just kind of forced to go with the flow, whether it's getting woken up from a nap so I can pick up my older daughter from preschool or skipping a nap entirely to take my older daughter to dance or gym class. She deals, but sometimes it's nice for her to get to stick with her own flow instead of being forced to adjust to someone else's.
Other people do fun stuff with her 8 of 10My toddler and I get stuck in a rut sometimes. Fortunately she likes routine, which is eminently helpful since I need one if I'm going to continue working from home successfully with her. But oftentimes routine is synonymous with "we don't ever do anything new."
Having a new person come around every now and again practically guarantees she'll have a break in the routine and experience new adventures that don't occur to me or I don't have time for.
Something to look forward to 9 of 10I don't have tons of money to throw around on babysitters, but knowing I have one on the books every so often gives me something to look forward to that's just about me. Whether it's catching up on a backload of house projects, tackling some creative ideas that have been festering or just planning on not doing much at all — it's nice to have a chunk of occasional time where I'm the focus in planning and execution.
Work 10 of 10I work from home and watch my toddler full time, which is like having a second full-time job (although I don't get paid overtime). It's hard enough to do my job and watch her, but it's even harder to do either one well when I'm doing both at the same time.
An occasional babysitter means both my work and my daughter get the time and attention they deserve all the time, even if it's just every once in a while.
Photo credits: iStock