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May 26, 2014

How A Sitter Saved My Sanity

I know I run a care-finding business, but it’s always nice to hear real stories about how a caregiver has helped families, whether for date nights, working moms or SAHMs who deserve a break. Shadra Bruce is the owner of MomsGetReal.com and author of “Stories from a Stepmom.” Here, she discusses going from family childcare to a hired babysitter -- and how it helped her marriage.

I’ve always wanted to be a great mom, but do you know what happens when you stop prioritizing yourself, your marriage, and your need for time away? You become a frantic, stressed out, scary mom.

And that’s not the mom anyone wants to be. Blog-image

When I started dating my husband, he had three kids and a very trusted babysitter whom he’d hire weekly so that we’d have time away. And by the time we married and had more kids, my stepdaughter was old enough to babysit and was so wonderful with her little brother and sister that we never dreamed of leaving them with anyone else.

And then she left for college.

We no longer had a babysitter or anyone with whom we could trust with our kids.

That’s when the babysitter blues set in.

I was not a bad mom, but I felt like one because I did more yelling and had less patience.

I was not a bad mom, but I felt like one because I felt frazzled all the time. I was not a bad mom, but I felt like one because I felt stifled and unable to have any private moments with my husband.

But really, I was being a bad mom because I wasn’t prioritizing myself -- and my needs to be something more than Mom.

So I turned back to babysitters. Paid babysitters. Sure, I had some fears leaving the kids with non-family, but I was also fearful I’d lose my mind without the break.

I realized: I can find/teach/work with someone else I trust with my kids.

I realized: the kids will survive being away from me.

I realized: I can justify this cost, if it helps my sanity -- and my marriage.

And yes, we had some misses. One babysitter was a constant-boyfriend-talker.

But we also had some hits. One of our kids’ favorite sitters was a neighbor whose parents were friends of ours. She truly loved kids – in fact, we just celebrated her getting a Masters in Education.

What I learned? The kids could survive without their big sister taking care of them – and without us home Every.Single.Weekend.Night. And my relationship with my husband could flourish because we were prioritizing taking time for ourselves. We could enjoy being a couple, rather than just Mom and Dad. 

So that’s how I got my sanity -- and my groove -- back!

What are your sanity savers?



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Comments

Bonnie Roggelin

Oh the poor little housewife. So instaed of having that limited time with her father. You used her as labor so the bored little house wife could get away from her kids.

Allison P.

so nice to read someone else put into words exactly what I have been feeling. As a single mom of boys, with no family or friends to help me where I live and working 2 jobs.... a babysitter would be the answer to so much stress and frustration.

I think it is healthy for both the kids and myself to have a break from one another.

Jaime

wow, really? So you had the luxury of having a built in babysitter for the majority of your children's young life, then when she left you get the reality check of having to deal with your own kids and you just can't take it. I'm sorry maybe I'm jaded because that has been my and most mom's lives from the get go. We had kids to become moms not just mothers there in title when the babysitter is gone. No, 24-hr, 365 day moms. Date night when the kids were little- non existent. Date night when they are now old enough to be in school - happens but rare occasion only when trusted family is in town and are available- i.e. maybe once every two to three months - read that equals 4-6x A YEAR. We have now been married ten years and that has been our norm since our first child was born 8 years ago. Yes, that means eight years of raising our kids on our own and still managing to keep a relationship. It is possible.

As for the sanity, you better believe it is hard. Excruciatingly hard at times when you have three kids and two of the little ones not sleeping through the night and you are exhausted but still have to wake up, function and be there as a loving mom to all of them. It is hard-- but it was doable. Why? Because I chose this, signed up to be their mom and want with all my heart and soul to be the best mom I could be for them. They are beyond worth it. All the missed sleep, meals and crankiness that sometimes accompanies this was and still is worth me fighting through it to hold back unnecessary nastiness towards them because they deserve the best.

It would have been easier to just hire a sitter and get my me-time. Oh my goodness what a little me-time would have felt like but when they were young it was more about them. I changed my priorities sat and became their milk machine for 18mos each, listened to song after song after song of nursery rhyme cds, read that Dora book or whatever childhood book they loved multiple times all on lack of sleep, lack of breaks (our kids didn't nap- imagine that! Not even a 10 min nap break in the entire day).

Why did I do this? Because I love them so much and know these days are fleeting. I know they won't always need us this much. I know soon enough they will be off on their own and I don't want to be the cliche parent that says "Oh my where did the time go?". No, I know exactly where it went. We have thousands upon thousands of pics of all that time. All those baby hours, toddler hours, preschool and up, all those moments I was there for them. I saw every first and was there for almost every hardship and tears. We didn't ship them off to daycare, we didn't get them booked in all the camps/classes possible when school was out, we spent that time together as a family.

Now I'm not saying anything about single parents or moms that HAVE to work. No, you guys have it tough enough. All the props to single family homes, if you need a break that is beyond understandable. And the families that need a two person income to get by, of course daycare or babysitting has to be an option. No reason for any feelings of guilt when it's necessary.

I just have real problems with those that have the luxury of being able to be with their kids and CHOOSE to send them off because they "just can't take it". Poor mom, taking care of your own kids was such a hardship you can't even last even though you had the help when they were even younger. Poor, poor frazzled sanity losing mom who doesn't have enough private time with her husband. Stifled and unable to prioritize herself as more than just a mom as she specifically said.

Ugh, jaded yes, jealous- you can call me that but I am happy, my kids are happy and I am above everything else- grateful. Grateful for the opportunity to be able to be a stay at home mom, grateful for the grace that got me through the toughest of times and grateful to be able to see these three for what they truly are- blessings. No matter how hard it gets they are blessings from above and we only get so much time to witness and be a part of their childhood lives. Why would I purposely give that up?

They will be on their own soon enough. Phases all come and go "Days might be long but years are short". Being grateful does a lot for sanity. Yes, an occasional day or night out is good and healthy but it doesn't have to be the necessity for sanity. When you change your priorities from needing to be something more than a mom, you can focus on the joys and love of raising these little ones to reach their full potential and teaching them to bring goodness in this world. That is where we can find sanity in those long days and peace and joy in knowing you were there for them.

Lisa

There is nothing wrong with having other people help you whe Th we family, friends, or paid sitters. I bet if you went back a few hundred years aunties and grandmother's did a lot of child watching. We don't have that same safety net now, but finding another way is fine.

margaret

I hope you paid your step daughter for filling in and I also hope she didn't have to sacrifice her goals and opportunities for growth to be there for you. After all they are your kids not hers. Nothing wrong with her stepping in occasionally to help out as it teaches responsibility and creates a family bond.But older kids shouldn't become the live in babysitter for the new kids.

Yes, being a Mom is a 7/24 hour job but taking an occasional night out isn't a crime either. You don't have to become a martyr for you kids. I was a stay at home Mom part of the time but I took exercise classes a couple times a week and put the kids in the daycare and they went to preschool too a couple of days a week. Nothing wrong with a few hours a week for yourself. The kids learn social skills in the daycare and Mom gets some adult time.
Single Moms need to be sure to take time to spend with your kids. They already lost one parent, they need at least one parent to spend time with them. Working two jobs isn't fair to the kids. Who's parenting the children?
Being grateful is truly a wonderful thing. I am grateful for the time I had with my kids and now the time I have with my grand kids and my elderly parents. It gets tough sometimes but I have no regrets. I worked but I don't miss any of my jobs. Sometimes I do miss the old times when my kids were little.

Daniela

Awesome post!! parents need time on their own. When I used to work as a nanny, the older boy went to school and I was in charge of picking him up, etc. All the stayed-home moms would always make comments about the mom i worked for like " She is always so happy and so nice" and how fresh she always looked, and things like that and once one of the moms said "well that's because she has a full time nanny" and I totally agree with her.
All moms need some kind of break. Don't be afraid to get a babysitter.

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