After two weeks with Son out of preschool, I got smart and asked my 15 year old niece to help out babysitting a couple days this week. What a difference! Happy kids, happier Mom. Why didn’t I get extra help sooner? The three intimidating factors for me were:
1. How would I find a decent babysitter I could trust and liked enough to have around my house?
2. Did I want to spend the extra money each week for some peace of mind and opportunity to get extra things done around the house or errands run without the hassle of accompanying preschoolers?
3. The big Mommy Guilt Factor: Shouldn’t I want to be with my children every waking hour – won’t it be fun to get up and go to the beach and have a fun summer day together? (Uh, not when we’re all screaming at each other by 5 pm.)
Admittedly, it was easy to get over my fear of finding a trustworthy babysitter the kids (and I) would enjoy after Niece announced that she was available for babysitting this summer. While I was worried about the need to pick her up and take her home to the next town over, I got over this by actually doing it and timing it at 13 minutes each way. That’s not such a big deal. And, her gracious mother offered to drop her off or pick her up one way each time. So, I take advantage of that during naptime or close to it (so Daughter doesn’t nod off in car and screw up the whole nap schedule for the day.)
In addition, Son loves his cousin and views her babysitting more like a playdate. This happens with great babysitters and also younger ones that act like mother’s helpers. That’s how I viewed Niece. I didn’t expect her to take over and simply enjoyed her addition to our group and our ability to go one on one when necessary (e.g. Daughter throwing tantrum while Son carries on about needing that train over there.) I now see the value of au pairs.
Second, since she’s fifteen, I’m paying her $9/hour and not the standard $15/hour or higher for an older babysitter in my area. This eases my financial guilt that I shouldn’t be paying just for my own peace of mind or to give myself a break.
Finally, after a harry weekend where Husband and I realized that Daughter is indeed in the throws of two year old tantrums over random miscellaneous needs and that while she and Son play so nicely together much of the time, their battles over said trains and most other toys they play with, has taken on new frequency and pitch; I just picked up the phone and called Niece to help – ALL DAY MONDAY.
No guilt, simply necessity. And since the day went well and at Friday, I can view this entire week as having been much easier on me (Niece is coming over again this afternoon), I’m finding my Mommy Guilt sweetly receding behind a certain Mommy Peace.