Let me make this clear before I get started: the plight of which I speak isn’t the babysitters themselves. Oh no, our family is blessed with wonderful, sweet babysitters who love and take good care of our kids, including several family members. No, the plight is a different beast altogether.
The plight is the leaving. The preparing for every possible scenario that might occur. The feeling that your phone must be on loud and in a visible spot at all times during whatever it is that you are doing away from the kids. The hoping you don’t get the phone call you’re waiting for. The sneaking out (I know- sneaking causes a whole set of issues- we don’t always do it) while they are distracted doing something else. The feeling that you’ve forgotten to mention something, or forgot to leave a certain item in plain view, or forgot to get cash to pay the sitter with. You know what I mean.
The plight of leaving your kids with someone else must get more comfortable at some point, right? I mean, beyond the missing them and hoping they sleep well, it must get easier the older they are. I remember as a kid, my parents leaving meant that I could probably play board games and watch movies and eat cookies and stay up late with a sweet older girl who would serve, for several years, as a role model and favorite person to see on the occasional weekend my parents went out. But right now, with my two year old and six month old, leaving means that I better have my daughter fed or she won’t eat. And Frozen in the DVD player. And a swaddle (she will NOT sleep without one) ready for emergencies or bedtime. And I better have my son in a happy mood, in his pajamas, with everything he needs for bed already in his crib. And several bottles made and ready to go, because if I only leave one, he will wake up every two hours till I get home and need one. Hubby can’t relate to this, because I have self-diagnosed OCD and he is as laid back as they come. See why we fit together so nicely?
Often, we are lucky enough for our babysitters to be grandparents. They know routines. They know what to do in case of a meltdown. They know where everything is in the house (or in some cases, baby stuff is all there in their own houses). They are familiar, safe faces and personalities. And praise the Lord, they are free. But lately, even they have a little resistance from the too-smart-for-her-own-good toddler. My mom doesn’t like to do bedtime with her right now because she gets up so many times before she is finally down for good, and when she gets up and all she finds is my mom, she is likely going to melt down. Why? No good reason. She loves my mom. She knows Hubby and I are coming home. She has everything she needs (full belly, clean diaper, swaddle, animal friends, etc). She just needs extra love right now, in this stage of her life.
Now, I will say two things, and they are in no way supposed to sound pushy. They are simply my opinion. First of all, the plight of leaving shouldn’t make you feel like you can’t have a date night, or go out with the girls, or even just see a movie by yourself if that’s your thing. We all need a little sanity, a little freedom, and a little time where the company can form complete sentences and drink a glass of wine. Secondly, if you’re in a committed relationship, it is really, REALLY important for you to have some time with your significant other alone… by yourselves. A revolutionary thought, i know. This is my opinion, but I’m also sure it’s true. Your relationship needs time that isn’t interrupted by kids’ meals, baths, naps and bedtimes. Make your person a priority. Don’t read that as “neglect your kids for that person”, but read it as a call to not neglect that person for your kids, if your person is important to you. Hubby and I love spending time together with the kids. We love spending time together at home after the kids are in bed, by ourselves or with friends. But we really appreciate a night out, just the two of us, slowing down, reconnecting, and getting to know each other better. It’s a time to see him as Hubby instead of Dad, for me to be a wife instead of just Mom, and to revisit hopes and dreams and careers and thoughts on life in general, instead of schedules, kids, bills and housework. Remember that time? Yeah. We were living the crazy life. We were doing what we wanted to, when we wanted to. We don’t really want to go back there, but a few hours of doing just that is exactly the therapy we needed.