We (my husband and I) hire babysitters to watch our kids for a few hours every so often. Gasp! *Cue the silent (or not-so-silent) mom judgments now.*
But seriously. Over the six-plus years I’ve been a mom, I can’t tell you how many times the following has happened:
I’m with a group of moms of young children, and I mention that my husband and I hire a babysitter so we can, ya know, occasionally leave our house like adults — or so I can go to the real-life doctor (imagine that)!
Others say, “Oh, really? Good for you . . . ” (with the tone that “good for you” means, “That’s nice, but I would never leave my children with a stranger!”)
While some say, “We wouldn’t hire someone who isn’t family.”
And a few respond, “We just don’t go out. I don’t trust anyone with our babies. But good for you guys! How nice!” (Again, notice the not-so-subtle judgment here).
I’m so tired of this because many moms just don’t “get it.”
Making the Decision to Hire a Sitter
My husband and I have been completely on our own for about ten years. We have lived in Ohio, Louisiana, Florida, and now Alabama, yet our families are in none of these states. We’ve been parents for over six years and never had the good fortune to live by family to help or watch our kids, aside from a short period when we lived 1.5 hours from my parents. It still wasn’t super close, but it was so nice! We’ve been doing this parenting thing alone for quite some time. We have little idea what it would be like to have grandma take the kids for a few hours on a random day so we could go to an appointment or go out to dinner.
And I get it. When kids are young, it’s worrisome to hire sitters for various reasons. I don’t judge people for not wanting to hire a sitter; but I do judge them for judging another mother who makes a different choice for her own mental and physical health.
I’ll admit that we didn’t hire a sitter for the first time until my oldest was about two or three. I exclusively nursed both my kids, so being away from them at younger ages was nearly impossible!
But you know what? There came a time when we said, “This is not sustainable. We need to see friends. We need date nights.” As a stay-at-home mom right now, sometimes I need to see a physician, and my husband can’t always take a day off work. I cannot realistically always bring a three and six year old with me. Anyone who has taken two young children to a medical appointment with them — you all know what I’m talking about here. Fun times, right?!
So we went for it. The first time (in Ohio), we found an amazing kindergarten teacher who watched our kids on the occasional weekend so we could go out for a few hours. She was just lovely! We did our research, and she had an awesome résumé.
When we moved here to Birmingham, our kids were getting a little older, and we heard about this amazing app called Wyndy. It’s a company with all vetted, local college babysitters, and it’s quite popular. We’ve hired over ten Wyndy sitters since, and each one has been great. Our kids are very vocal now and tell us everything that goes on. They’re always sad that the babysitters leave! We’ve had nothing but positive experiences.
Sometimes It’s Not a Choice
A few months ago, I had a concerning lump in my breast. My general physician sent me for a mammogram. I just want you to think about this for a second if you’ve judged a mom for using a babysitter when she has no other options. It was unexpected. My husband was stuck out of town for work and could not help with our children. Given the urgency of the situation, I did not want to reschedule. Babysitter to the rescue!
I was gone for several hours that day. Thankfully, everything was okay. I do not have breast cancer. But again, I want you to imagine living in a new state with no one around to watch your kids, and you need to have a cancer screening. Think about that the next time you judge someone for hiring babysitters.
Even still, hiring a babysitter for a planned or spontaneous date night is just as valid of a reason as hiring one for medical appointments.
Having Family Available to Help is a Luxury
If you have relatives, grandparents, super close friends, etc., around who can help you in a pinch or just give you and your spouse a break for a few hours, it’s a privilege. The next time a mom mentions that she hires a babysitter, assume she’s done her research and is hiring someone she trusts. Assume that you may have privileges she doesn’t. Assume that maybe her desires are different from yours. If you never want to hire sitters because it makes you uncomfortable, that’s a decision worthy of respect — but so is the opposite.
Check your judgment at the door.
I also want to acknowledge that I realize it’s a privilege to even be able to afford the occasional sitter. I realize we’re lucky it’s even an option for us.
We have to be selective about when we go out because sitters around here are not cheap. Hiring one (especially if we’re also going out to dinner and drinks) gets very expensive very quickly!