Saturday, March 15, 2014

Adventures in Babysitting

So it's no secret to my friends and family that having two kids is kicking my trash. I am only three and a half months in, and have felt like I'm drowning the entire time.

Yeah, drowning, from a couple of cute little kids.

Even though I had four younger siblings, whom I baby-sat daily until the day I left for college.

Even though I baby-sat for other people since the ripe old age of 11.

Even though I was a professional nanny during college, and I took the kids on all kinds of fun adventures, including taking toddlers to restaurants, taking three kids to the beach by myself, and then somehow I would still have the laundry folded for their parents, and my own homework done once the kids were in bed.

But now, somehow with my own children, I just can't do it all. I have been living in this constant stressed out state of piles of laundry, diminishing milk supply, errands with two in tow, big bed sleep training, being late to play dates, stressing about baby weight, and my almost potty-trained toddler fights me to not go in the "pobby".

It's been wearing on me.

But yesterday was different. 

Yesterday I decided to take the day off from being the Mom, and be the babysitter instead. 

Because the babysitter doesn't care about the long run. She's there to keep the kids happy and safe, and get them in bed on time.

And you know what?

It was awesome.

  I took the day off from play dates, and errands. Yes that meant we had leftover pizza for dinner the next night because no groceries were purchased the day before, but  babysitters are not concerned with such things. It also meant that we missed meeting our friends at the Orange County Fair today, which they later told me turned into an ultimate toddler meltdown for them. So we apparently didn't miss much.

 I took the day off from exercise. Because babysitters don't worry about baby weight. Instead, we spent the morning lounging around eating granola, and watching Curious George while the baby took the greatest, longest nap ever.

I took the day off from worrying about the house, and left the dishes and the laundry for another day,  and my Little Giant and I just played. We played Playdough. And I didn't try to teach him anything, or worry about him making a mess. I just played along side of him, like a babysitter would. Rolling the Playdough into a ball for him when he asked, and focusing on my own obviously brilliant creations. My only goal was to have fun, and it was so much fun. And I learned something that I didn't know about my 2 year old, that he understands how to use scissors. Playdough scissors, but scissors nonetheless. I never knew he understood the concept, or even knew what they were called. But apparently he does.

Instead of having to be the potty police, over and over all day long, I just set the timer on his Potty Watch, and just had him try when the timer rang, and it wasn't a big deal. No fighting, just, OK lets try. You don't have to go? OK, whatever. Because the baby-sitter doesn't care that if he goes five minutes later in his Pull-up, he might not be fully trained in time for preschool to start this fall. She just takes him as often as she is supposed to. She doesn't care about wasted Pull-ups either, because she doesn't have to buy them.

Naptime was easier too for some reason, as if spending quality playtime with Mom, (I mean the Baby-sitter) somehow made it easier for him to feel secure enough to stay in the big bed.

Also during naptime, in true babysitter fashion, I raided the cupboards for junk food, watched a teenage soap opera, did some online shopping, and called my boyfriend. (The Rookie) No sorting laundry, no doing dishes, no worrying about what to make for dinner. No other phone calls were made, or errands were planned, or even thought about.

 It was the most relaxing nap time ever.

Dinner time was a little rough because without a clean kitchen to work with it was difficult to get anything made. But who leaves a dirty kitchen for their babysitter? (Hopefully our babysitter never sees this because she would laugh.) 

The baby had a tough time falling to sleep. Babysitters in general have a tougher time putting babies to bed because it's not their own infant. (Obviously that was the issue here.)

For dinner I gave LG a choice between Macaroni and Cheese or Pancakes. (Both simple, easy to make, babysitter style dinner options.) He chose pancakes. So I made him huge fluffy pancakes from a mix drenched in syrup. (Babysitters don't make pancakes from scratch you know.) I didn't worry about feeding him four food groups, or even two. I didn't even freak out when he threw his syrup filled fork on the floor (the carpeted floor mind you). I just ate my own pancakes, and asked him if he liked his. It was very freeing.

And then, we brushed teeth, and went to bed. A little late, but without much resistance. I don't know if it was all the sugar for dinner, or the laxness of discipline throughout the day, or just that he was so happy not having been dragged around town for errands and "enriching activities". But he went to sleep a lot easier than normal. And I fell asleep on the couch. Just like a babysitter.

It was a great day.

I learned two things. First I learned that my child responds really really well to having real play time with me. (why do I not already make this a priority) And second, I learned that the happier I am, and less stressed out about all the things I think he needs to do perfectly, the more perfectly he does them. ie. Potty training, and bedtime. This particular toddler, just likes things to be mellow. Maybe I just need to let him get these things down at his own pace.

Today I went back to being the Mom. I woke up early to clean my kitchen. I gave him vitamins, and a bath, and sent him to time-out a couple times before lunch. But kept up the theme of relaxing more about things in general, and playing with him. Things were pretty good again today.

Then we went to the beach, and The Rookie played with our Little Giant in the water while I sat under an umbrella with our baby wrapped up in the Ergo Carrier watching and smiling. But then after a while The Rookie headed out to surf leaving me with the dreaded Infant+Toddler duo.

It was rough. LG kept pushing his limits, throwing sand, and sneakily inching closer and closer to the water. He wouldn't play with his sand toys, or stay where I asked him to stay. A couple times I had to get up off my chair and run to catch him before he made it all the way to the water. I even put him in time out right there on the sand.

And then I remembered the amazing day I had had before, and decided that instead of trying (and failing) to get him to play near me, maybe I should see if he wants to play with me. So I plopped my self right down in the sand. (ergo and infant attached and all) And I proceeded to dig, and play. And it worked again. 

The babysitter wins every time.

I used to babysit other people's children for a living. Now that I have my own, I somehow get all wrapped up in being the Mom that I forget to enjoy it, to get down on the sand and play. But not any more.

...Thanks to my adventure in baby-sitting.


  1. I've missed your blog posts! I too am learning (over and over and over again) that a stressed out Mom has to deal with a stressed out baby. I love this perspective. Maybe I'll try it on tomorrow :)

    1. Awe, thank you Sarah! I am back at it again, so hopefully you won't have to miss it anymore.

  2. Thats cute! I have nannied professionally for 5 years and now we are finally trying for children of our own. I always wondered how it would be different from the nanny profession. Great blog :)