You carry your baby for nine long months – you are careful about what you eat, what you drink, how you exercise, how stressed you are, you try to make sure you are getting enough sleep, enough water etc. Then once they are born you agonize if they are feeding enough, if they are gaining weight, if they are sleeping enough or too much, if they are teething, wet, colicky, or just uncomfortable.
In other words…it’s not about you anymore.
You take it all on yourself. Secretly, you don’t even trust your partner because they don’t do it the same way you do (or as well as you do). You are a one woman, non-sleeping, baby-feeding, milk-pumping machine.
But…..how long can this go on? Don’t you need a break?
Some women wear this badge proudly. “I haven’t let little Jimmy out of my sight from the time he was born until now.” Jimmy is six years old. Others are a bit more relaxed. “I only occasionally get a babysitter, but it has to be a family member and I will only go local and will run home the second the baby cries.” And yet others are happy to hire a babysitter and enjoy nights out with their partner from the beginning “As long as she arrives, seems reputable, she’s hired!” They can’t get out the door fast enough.
Each successive child seems to bring a change in opinion about babysitters. Usually with the first, it feels dreadful leaving them – you continuously check your phone the whole time you are out, certainly can’t relax and enjoy your night, and secretly just want to get home. With the second child, you start getting used to having babysitters, and after a lengthy routine showing them what to do if the children wake up, who to call, you are out the door enjoying your night. With the third (and subsequent) children, it certainly feels like the babysitter can put them to bed just as well as you can!
Some mums use a careful vetting process to ensure that babysitters are qualified caregivers. They want to see First Aid certificates, training courses, CRBs and a whole load more. Other mums are content with babysitters being mums themselves or having experience with other children. Some mums hire teenagers who need to make some extra money, as they are usually only looking after the kids once they are asleep. I often think it comes down to using your intuition in combination with a bit of reference checking and character evaluation. Recommendations are also extremely helpful as most mums wouldn’t recommend someone that they themselves had a bad experience with.
Some mums have no idea where to begin when it comes to finding a babysitter. Babycentre has a useful checklist of things to thing about when you hire someone. It can be difficult to think of things to find out in advance, but this list might help.
There seem to be so many babysitting agencies out now (far more than when I had my daughter almost 8 years ago) – it seems to be mumpreneurs figuring out that there is a business model in giving other mums access to high quality, convenient childcare. To me it is a step in the right direction towards recognizing that mums need time to themselves as well as with their partners. I believe that giving yourself some time to be yourself away from your child(ren) is paramount towards being a happy mummy.
Whatever you choose to do, it is not something to be taken lightly but I also think not too seriously that you lose sight of who you are by never leaving the house! Then your next step is thinking about your first holiday away together!!