A sudden dearth of babysitters

My oldest son is eleven.  That means I’ve been hiring babysitters for nearly twelve years.  Historically, I’ve been awash in young women who aren’t just some freckly kid down the street who rolls her eyes and adopts an attitude like you paying her $10 is her doing you a favor, but genuine, responsible, fun, Godly, available, lovely young women.

It seems, though, as though that door is closing, and I’m more than a little panicked, especially as I prepare to have my fifth child.

Here’s a rundown:

  • Cassie:  She has been watching my kids since I only had one of ’em, back when she was 11-going-on-18.  I have long told her mom, “If I ever have a daughter, I’d love for her to turn out just like Cassie.”  However, she’s now graduated from ASU, has a full-time job (a paid internship with NASA), is 21, and, frankly, has a life of her own.  As glad as I am to adjust my perspective of Cassie — from girl/employee to woman/friend — I really miss having her watch my kids.
  • Kimberlee:  Cassie’s 17yo younger sister.  Kim got a job at Target last fall, and Target has discovered what I’ve known for a long time:  Kim is a tireless worker with a fantastic attitude.  This summer, Target’s been working her 30-40 hrs/week, and, well, that just doesn’t leave a lot of time for babysitting.  ~sigh~
  • Mackenzie:  Mackenzie’s been watching my kids for nearly as long as Cassie has.  Mackenzie is just lovely.  Lovely.  I have the semi-secret desire that, one day, Mackenzie will marry a guy named Dillon, who goes to my church.  She doesn’t go to my church, and that has long been a babysitting-bonus, because when you have babysitters that go to your own church, chances are, they’re going to be asked for their services by 10 other couples who want to go to the same church event that you do…  She was like my ace in the hole.  Talented and smart, she wants to become a nurse so that she can be a medical missionary.  She just finished her fourth year at ASU, and decided to take a few more classes in the fall semester so that she can graduate with not only a major, but two minors.  She leaves on Friday for a month-long mission trip to New Orleans, taking with her…
  • Hannah:  Hannah is Mackenzie’s sister.  Absolutely sweet, tennis-playing Hannah, who never has a complaint about my kids.  Ever.  I suspect she’s lying half the time.  Hannah is about to enter her senior year of high school, and I was happy that, even though all my other regular babysitters are unavailable this summer, at least I might have Hannah, at least Thursdays – Sundays, since she nannies for a friend of mine Mondays – Wednesdays.  Well, then the plan changed, and she’s going to go to N.O., too.
  • There’s a host of others, who would watch my kids from time to time… some of them now with full-time jobs of their own, some moved out of town, plus a couple teen guys who I was happy to have watch my boys for short jobs, but now that I have a girl… it just doesn’t seem right.  Some moms, like back when they only had one or two, and I only had one or two… but now, they might have three or four, and I have four, and saddling some poor mother with eight kids just doesn’t seem right, either.

I’ve had a longstanding view that one simply doesn’t ask the parents to babysit… which I’ve broken, I think, three times already this summer.  And, Martin has used up way more of his PTO than ever in recent months, coming home early, or leaving for work late, so that I can get that doctor appointment in…  ~sigh~  Really.  I don’t know what I’m going to do.  And, I have yet another doc appt tomorrow afternoon;  it doesn’t look like anyone is available;  I’ve already rescheduled the appt once, and Martin already took time off on Monday for me to get some lab work done… 

Wah wah.


About Karen Joy

I'm a partially-homeschooling mother of six -- 3 boys ages 19, 17 and 15 years old, and three girls: 11, 8, and 3. I like birding, reading, writing, organic gardening, singing, playing guitar, hiking, the outdoors, and books. I very casually lead a very large group of homeschooling families in the Phoenix area. I have a dear hubby who designs homes for a local home builder and who is the worship pastor of our church. I live in the desert, which I used to hate, but now appreciate.

Posted on July 9, 2008, in The Dear Hubby, The Kids, Whining. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. I’ve long been lacking in the stellar babysitter department… I cannot count the number of times I have had to take all the kids with me to an appointment. I am so Thankful that I didn’t have to haul all five of them to my annual a few weeks back! My trick for keeping them entertained at an appointment… take along those Crayola Color Wonders for the little ones or beg a nurse assistant to entertain them!

    Good Luck!

  2. I sooooooooooo need a babysitter for Kiko! I’ve never had a babysitter for him before and I don’t know where to start looking for one. He was in daycare for one day a week for a few months until June but it didn’t work out, and I’m having a big debate with myself about whether I should enrol him into another one or try to find a babysitter instead. We’ve just had an horrendous day where we were both ill and had to struggle along together – we both needed a babysitter each, I can tell you!

    It seems as if you’re in a really good community there so I’m sure you’ll soon have lots of new good babysitters lined up!

  3. What about…..leaving Ethan in charge….but not of all kiddos.

    I leave Nat and Ethan…10.5 and 9 at home for short stints and yesterday for 2 hours to have a thyroid biopsy (no cancer). I take Sam. He is almost 6. The sheriff around here says it is OK. You have to train them and get them used to it. That is why there are cell phones and they call us and we call them. WE started by letting them stay when I took Sam to preschool. 30 minutes at a time. They HATE going to the store so they beg to stay. Sometimes I will let just one stay alone. WE have worked up to all of this. My babysitter days are soon over, I predict another year at most. If you leave the two olders, you tell them they have what it takes and that lightens your load, teaches reaponsibility and independence. You will be leaving your kids at home eventually, so start the training. Yes, it is a risk, so is driving down the road. I am more afraid of me getting in a wreck than something happening to them. If Ethan was a girl, she’d be getting asked to babysit. Inquire what the age of being left alone is in your county, maybe sign up for a babysitting class for Ethan. Just a thought, you will get to this place sooner or later. Sorry it is hard to find babysitters. Best wishes….

  4. You don’t ask parents to babysit…but what about people, maybe church people who would love to bless you expecting nothing in return….you are not exactly in a position to babysit in kind. I babysat last summer for a couple friends having their 4th and 5th in the last throws of pregnancy. They can’t return the favor, but my kids had a fantastic time playing with them here at my house and I was glad to help. If I was in Terramar, you could call me to help….but wonder of wonders, 5 years have passed since that fateful move and we are miles away….I digress. Who would like to bless you? Will you allow others to bless you? What about splitting kids up for an appointment? Sorry so chatty today…none of this might be right for your family, but I thought I’d share….

  5. I don’t know your Mom, Karen, but I’m wondering if it’s a bigger deal for you to ask her than it is for her to be asked. My parents often offer to keep our kids. They like them, and we want their influence in our kids lives. My in-laws hardly ever keep our kids, but when when we ask, they do not mind having them at all. If it was a hardship, though, or if I thought my kids would not be safe – whether it’s their physical safety or spiritual – I would not leave them.

  6. Golly, I appreciate everyone’s comments and ideas. When I posted this yesterday, I thought it was — seriously — a self-indulgent, whiny post that no one would give a hoot about.

    About my parents… Well, my stepdad is watching the kids today, after all. 🙂 I guess my thing is that I don’t want to take advantage of them. My stepdad works part-time, my mom works full-time, and both of them (especially my mom) have serious health problems that make them somewhat infirm. They both adore my children. My stepdad’s own two daughters (my age) were tragically both killed in an accident six years ago, and my kids (and my brothers) are the only grandkids he has, and I am SO grateful for his love and care. But… given that he is busy, has a muscular disorder that makes getting around difficult, I’m hestitant to ask. He has said that, if he is available, he will always say yes… but still, I hesitate.

    Lisa, I think you’re right in that I need to step up Ethan’s responsibility in staying home with at least one or two siblings. It’s funny (sort of), but he is SO paranoid of staying at home alone… It’s because he feels the pressure of the weight of responsibility, and it literally makes him sick to his stomach. Or, he worries so much, he can — seriously — give himself a fever. But, his great concern is actually what does make him a highly responsible older brother… I think, though, that I need to stretch him a little more in that area. I think in the future, I would consider leaving him home with Wesley and Audrey, and take Grant with me to appts. Grant is nearly 9yo, but due to his learning/social struggles, he’s also the most volatile and least predictable, though by himself in a waiting room, I think the only risk I’d run is him talking other waiters to death. 😀

    I have left Ethan two or three times for 20-30 minutes at a time, usually when Audrey was sleeping, but he nearly hyperventilates over the pressure.

    I do need to take a look at others who might be willing to watch my kids. I’ve just been dependent on my “regular four” for so long that I haven’t been looking enough… plus, as you know, Lisa, we live so far out here that it’s a long drive for nearly everyone… PLUS, I think this is a pride issue, but I’d rather pay someone the $10/hr than be beholden to someone’s free service of love to me. Ugh.

    But, I do need to figure something out, and quickly, and I will read and re-read all your comments and keep them in mind.

    Thank you again, everyone.

  7. Get over your pride darlin…..but you do live far out….people want to help a pregnant woman…say it three times….

    Start by leaving Ethan alone, no pressure and talking him thru on a cell phone. After a while he will tell you to stop calling. Having something to do is helpful. Then Wesley, then Audrey which is alot of responsibility. Consider the babysitting courses. If you have to take two kids that is half the load. Ethan is obviously not ready for you to do your appointments with him in charge yet, but hopefully, you can work up to it. Good luck!!!!

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