Whenever my mother comes to visit us in California, it is her mission to find us help. When mom was recently in town, she stopped everyone who
For years and years, mom has been telling me to go to the local high school and talk to the Principal. Or one of the guidance counselors. Or post a flier at a local Junior College.
"The flier could be simple" she said. "Just post that you need a Mother's Helper. But..." she added, "I wouldn't mention how many children you have - or how old they are - in the ad."
I'm sure any potential babysitter would love to have it sprung on them, the first day of work that there are one! two! three! FOUR! children. And by the way, they're all under the age of four. I suspect there wouldn't be a first day of work. They'd ditch their black umbrella and bag of tricks and take off running down the street, never to be seen or heard from again.
To our credit, we did once post a flier at a local JC and never received any response. And when I was first returning to work in 2005, we ran an ad in a local newspaper - interviewed several people - and then decided that hiring help wasn't our cup of tea.
Charlie and I could make this work, just the two of us.
And we did.
And we have.
And wow - look at that.
Almost four years have passed and we're still relatively sane.
"All you need is someone to come over and play with the children for a few hours in the afternoon so you can get some things done", mom would stress. "Think of how nice it would be to have a little time to do some laundry or cook dinner. Wouldn't that be nice?"
Realistically? I'm not sure.
But after enough people have been
My concession is that either Charlie and I would be here - folding laundry, participating in a conference call, preparing dinner. Maybe we would take one or two of the children and visit the grocery store. The babysitter's responsibilities would be to play with the children, read them stories, paint, string beads, push them on the swing.
Although, I really enjoy doing ALL of those things with the children. Why should I pay someone to come and do that? And really, we've managed for FOUR years with just the two of us, why do I really need to bring someone in, NOW? If anything, I'm away from the children for three hours a day in the morning - why do I need to be away from them in the afternoon, too?
Dear God, are you there?
Can you hear me? Is this thing on??
Today, one of the people that my mother talked to at church, many Sundays ago, came over. She is 18-years old and a Freshman in College. She has a very busy schedule, but is available a few afternoons a week to help with the children.
My initial impression was that she was very nice, but very shy. What I didn't notice (because I was chasing after Henry), but Charlie pointed out, is that she didn't talk to the children at all. While my husband walked her around the house and pointed out their various play areas and toys, and discussed what we were looking for and her availability, she clutched her bottle of water and nodded, "Oh, OK. Um. OK."
Maybe she was just overly shy and will be more engaging with the children when we're not standing right next to her. But so far, we're not off to a good start.
See, here's the thing. If I am going to have someone come to watch our children, they better do just as good of a job - if not better - than me. Better, I would expect, because they are going to be here for a short period of time and they will be paid. They need to be energetic and fun, resourceful and imaginative, carefree and disciplined, loving, kind and patient.
And they sure as heck better TALK with the children.
Once she left, Charlie and I were discussing compensation. When Charlie had asked her what her expectation was, she replied, "Whatever you are comfortable with." I remember giving that exact same empty response when I was a teenager. Perhaps 18-year-olds just haven't yet developed the self confidence to assertively declare what they want, or feel that they deserve.
Back in the 80's when I would babysit, I would make around $3.00 an hour. So I really have no idea what the "going" rate is. In talking with several of my friends, they have told me that depending upon where you live (i.e. Northern California Bay Area), the going rate for a sitter is $25.00 an hour and each additional child is $10.00 per hour.
To which I asked, what comes with that?? Will they also sanitize the house and teach our children Italian?? Because seriously, if I could be pulling in $55.00 an hour to babysit, graduate school was a bad investment.
Charlie called our sister-in-law, Kathy, this afternoon and according to her (mother of two teens both of whom babysit), a fair salary would be $10.00 an hour, assuming Charlie and I are here and the babysitter can come and ask us questions. Charlie assumed then, that if we pay $15.00 an hour, we should be left COMPLETELY alone.
Truthfully, I'm not too keen on any of this.
I definitely don't like having things forced upon me.
I feel like this whole "thing" of hiring a routine-sitter has been set in motion and I'm not too sure I want any of it to happen. My unwillingness has nothing to do with relinquishing control and allowing other people to care for my children because I already do that five days a week with school.
Instead, it has everything to do with the fact that I don't want to put an extra burden upon myself to find someone that I like and trust. I don't want to give up more time with my children, than I already do. I don't want to be committed to someone every week. It seems that bringing some one in is supposed to make my life easier, but from what I can see thus far, it seems like this is only going to complicate matters AND it will cost me money.
Why is that good??
Why do I have to try and fix something that isn't broken??
Although, right now, the kids are stirring from their nap and I am wishing that I had just a little more time to myself. Especially since I can hear William growling and screaming "ARGH!" and that never bodes well with my psyche.
Who knows. Maybe things would get better with time. Maybe this is just the kind of thing I need to try out for a while. Maybe this sitter will be the answer to prayers I didn't even know I was praying. Maybe everyone who has made the suggestion that I hire someone knows exactly what they are talking about, and I am clueless.
Or ... maybe not.