Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Who is Babysitting Your Kids?

My kids have never had a non-family babysitter. That's weird, right? We are lucky that we have so many family members that live in the same city as we do, but if a family member can't babysit, we just don't do whatever it is we wanted to do. As my kids get older I can see letting a teenager babysit...maybe when D is three. It's always been a worry of mine that the kids be able to verbalize any issues before I leave them with any stranger. ECFE classes would have been a nightmare for me, but I used to work in the office there so I knew most of the teachers. "Strangers" were not an issue. AND they are all adults.

I remember being 12 or 13 and being asked to babysit very young babies. I accepted the challenge at the time and most of the time was successful. I do remember one time that the baby would not stop crying so when the mom called to check I was in tears. They had to cut their evening short. I remember feeling guilty but I know I was very overwhelmed with a young, possibly colicky baby, and having little experience with that.

It's amazing to me that those parents left me in charge of their infants. When I had my babies there was no way I was going to let a young child take care of my babies. If we'd lived away from family? I would not have left them. Period. Truth be told, we didn't leave our babies very often anyway, even with family available to babysit.

We just knew when we had our babies that we wanted to be with them more often than we didn't. It feels strange when I'm missing kids. I know we all need breaks and yes my kids drive me nuts on occasion (at least twice a day) but I wouldn't have had kids if I didn't want to spend time with them.

I realize how that sounds. I also realize people are wired differently. And finances are different. Isn't it fantastic that we have choices? (Some of us.) But I enjoy my kids even when they are fighting. I miss them when they are away from me.

When I was little I loved our babysitters. My dad was in the military and our babysitters were often students in my dad's electronics classes. All adults. Well, at least 18, right?

I was a pre-teen babysitter and I would not have hired myself. The really strange thing is that these parents would refer me to other friends. Most of the time things were fine, but I was totally unprepared for taking care of other people's kids. One time a toddler was bouncing on the exercise mini-tram so much she barfed up her macaroni and cheese dinner. It was one of the most difficult things I ever had to do to clean up that little girl's barf. It is totally different when it is your own child and you are not 12 years old.

How do parents do it? Even today, my kids are 8, 6 and 2 and I am reluctant to employ a pre-teen or teen babysitter. Am I weird?

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Life As I Know It said...

I think you are really lucky to have family around. We don't. So the options for us are to either never go out or employ a non-family babysitter. We employ a non-family babysitter.
I like to be with my kids too, but I also need a break, and time to be a couple with my spouse.
I think as long as you trust whoever it is you are leaving your kids with, it's all good.

mayberry said...

I don't mind leaving my kids with a (competent) teen babysitter. I have a few that I like. But I really hate SCHEDULING the babysitter. For some reason it feels like asking someone out on a date. What if they say No???

I remember being hired to care for a 6-week-old baby for an entire day (like 8 hrs) when I was barely 14. Whoa.

Holly at Tropic of Mom said...

No. We have only had family or very close friends watch our kids. My husband and I decided early on that until the kids are fully functioning with their verbal skills (and I suppose my preschooler is now), we wouldn't let just anyone watch them.

slow panic said...

I don't think you are weird, but my kids have never had a non-family member baby sitter either.

I was baby sitting at the age of 12 and my oldest is 12 now and I wouldn't let him baby sit for anyone. I can't imagine asking someone that young to watch my small children.

Have times just changed?

Awesome Mom said...

We too are not ones who hire teens for babysitting. We just wait to go on dates until we have family visiting.

Edie Mindell said...

You're not.:-) You're just being protective of your kids and securing them in a safe environment. My husband and I always see to it that we hire only competent babysitters when we have some important things to do. But, other than that, we see to it that we have our kids with us all the time.:-)

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