Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Dating my spouse - Finding a babysitter

The hardest part of dating, for us anyway, is finding a babysitter.  With four kids, our family is a bit to daunting for the average teenager, and none of them are old enough for us to hire to watch their siblings.  Here’s some things we’ve tried, with varying success.  But perhaps they’ll help you out:
  • Hire sisters.  If one can’t manage all the kids, perhaps two can.
  • Look for large families — their older children can usually handle a brood.
  • Look to relatives.  We have hired aunts and uncles with good success.
  • Trade other families.  This works best with similar sized families — watch their kids for their date in trade for them watching your kids for your date.
  • Date at unconventional times.  My favorite time to date is on a weekday morning.  So many more things (like museums) are open, and we’ve found that a stay-at-home mom doesn’t mind watching our kids for a little while in exchange for us watching her kids during a “normal” date time.
  • Date after the kids go to bed.  If one babysitter can’t handle all the kids, have them come over just after bedtime — then they just have to handle “sleeping” kids.  It’s much less stress, and we find that coffee shops stay open pretty late, allowing us to still escape.
  • Find a Grandma.  For a while, an older couple in our church was eager to watch the kids.  The kids played well at their house, and instead of payment, we bought them small gifts (usually potted plants or ice cream).
  • Tap unmarried friends.  Some of my unmarried friends get lonely for family life, and really welcome the idea of a free, home-cooked meal in exchange for playing with the kids for a couple of hours afterwards.
  • Set up a POKI night.  Parent’s Out, Kids In.  A group of four couples at our church did this once a month for a while.  We all went together to make a nice dinner for a few college students, who then watched our kids in the church nursery for 1.5-2 hours while each couple took their own date.
  • Contract a sitter.  Instead of looking for a sitter every week, I prefer to find someone willing to come once a week for 3 months.  Then we only have to go through the stress of finding someone a few times a year.
  • Rotate sitters.  If no one is interested in actually watching your clan every week for three months, perhaps you can find several families (or individuals) who will watch them once every 8-10 weeks, then rotate sitters.
We always pay our babysitters, either with a gift, a babysitting trade or with money.  We don’t pay a lot (because we can’t afford a lot), but we feel that it’s important to pay them as a reminder to ourselves that our marriage is worth investing in.  Your marriage is too.
Oh, and if all these fail and you’re still without a babysitter, take an at-home date (think dessert by candlelight after the kids are in bed….)

No comments:

Post a Comment