So, I finally took the plunge and hired a real babysitter. Not the free (and dependable) services of Grandma, Nana, or even Aunt Kate. I checked references, interviewed, and had this very sweet 18-year old student come by once and play with my toddler for an hour while I was home. I loved her, and so did my daughter.
Finally, the magical night had arrived. My husband and I were going to leave our daughter with a real, paid sitter who would entertain our daughter and put her to bed at a reasonable time.
The only thing left to do was write my babysitter instructions.
About halfway through the 3rd full handwritten letter of instructions, I started questioning my sanity. Why am I on page three of instructions for this babysitter who is going to watch my toddler for a total of four hours? This teenage babysitter seems pretty cool (like, stays out past 11pm on a Friday night kind of cool), and she is going to think that I am a total nut job mom. After some reflection, I thought back to my own babysitting days, and about how the instructions that moms left me really said a lot about their parenting styles, level of exhaustion and general attitude.
Paging through my babysitter instructions again, with that critical eye, here is what they revealed:
I’m not anti-television…
If my toddler wants to relax with an episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse at the end of a long day, who am I to object? I let the sitter know that she sometimes likes to end her day by cuddling on the couch with a cozy blanket and enjoying a show.
…But my technology stinks.
I think we are the only ones who still have cable, and I left a long list of how to operate the various remote controls even though we don’t have fancy channels. Additionally, I had to tell our sitter how to operate the baby monitor (which has lasted two years but is now rigged with duck tape) and how to angle the iPad so that the internet will work.
My instructions also revealed that I feed my toddler breakfast for dinner. A lot.
I just feel like omelets are the easiest way to add veggies to her diet. I throw in cheese, peppers, onions and avocado—and this passes for a healthy, and “fancy” dinner (avocado is still fancy, right?). Since my daughter sometimes asks for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for breakfast, I figure her perception of each meal is already skewed.
They showed that I’m a tad indulgent…
“Please be sure that her Moon and Stars Humidifier is turned on to the loud setting. She likes her knitted blanket closest to her body, and the fluffy polka dot one on top. She likes her room to be organized or she has trouble sleeping.” Um…Yikes.
…And just a bit paranoid.
I had to leave the babysitter detailed instructions on how to open our various cabinet latches, baby safety gates and potential “hazards” in the home.
That I have way too many stuffed animals in the house…
I found myself explaining in my babysitter notes that, in order to get my daughter to sleep, she should just go retrieve whichever animal my daughter chooses on a whim for that evening. They get called out like little fluffy Price is Right hopefuls…come on down, you’re the next contestant on toddler sleep challenge. Usually the one she wants is in the depths of the basement or in the trunk of the SUV.
…And that I rebelled against my pediatrician.
Yes, she still needs her pacifier to sleep. No, I’m not taking it away right now.
It revealed that, by the end of the day, I have total decision fatigue.
Have you heard of this? It’s when you’ve made so many little choices throughout the day that you have trouble choosing, even little things, later. This is why all of my daughter’s pajamas are the same. Seriously. It’s embarrassing, but she has five of the same pink and yellow footed pj’s. Just throw ‘em on.
The babysitter instructions also showed me we were getting boring with our restaurant selections.
Ten years ago, our plans would not have read anything to do with a chain restaurant, a popular movie and quick trip to Target. I am happy to report that seeing this in writing to our babysitter actually shocked us back into slightly trendy, new, local restaurant mode!
That I let my toddler win a lot of the fights, but I win the ultimate bedtime battle…
If you meet all these demands, she really does go to sleep for the next 12 hours.
…And that I must be doing something right.
Because really the ultimate goal is to to be able to have a fun night out with my husband and come home to a sleeping toddler and a clean house. Which is exactly what happened!
Share This Blog