We Need You to Babysit
Dun Dun Duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuh!
Or, whatever horrifying sound went through your head just now. Cleaning for someone doesn’t sound so bad now, does it?
Never fear! I am here with five ways you can babysit that aren’t scary, messy, or too hands-on!
Too good to be true? Only a little bit. The catch is that you need to read the rest of this post first, where I tell you why parents and the grandparents/caregivers raising children so desperately need you to do this.
(Or, be a rebel and just scroll to the end. I really can’t stop you.)
A lack of good babysitters seems to be the unifying plight of every parent I know. Yes, there are usually a number of tweens and young teens ready to make some cash, but there are plenty of reasons why parents secretly, and not-so-secretly wish for a babysitter that is more mature:
- Their child has a medical condition that requires monitoring and/or the administration of medication,
- Their child has special needs, and requires a level of patience and care that tweens aren’t equipped to offer,
- There is a custody agreement in place, and the babysitter needs to be mature enough to handle unwanted visitors in order to keep the child safe
to name a few.
There are also many reasons why “Hurting People”–the topic of this series–need babysitting/breaks from their children more often than they do when life is going normally:
- Kids are loud.
Like, really loud. Even the ones with quiet personalities can bring the house down with heavy footsteps, clattering dishes, and enthusiastic play. This is normal. It’s also head-splitting when you are in pain.
If you know someone who is chronically ill, or is going through a temporary medical situation and needs their sleep, chances are, their children are not making it easy.
- Kids don’t know how to read a room.
When a family is going through a crisis, such financial problems, marital problems, health problems, etc… tension can be high in the home. Most parents love their kids enough to shield them from things that they are too young to handle, but that means that they, the adults, have to keep it inside and put on a brave face, only to have a young child in their face reciting the plot of the latest Paw Patrol episode. It is incredibly hard to keep that up mentally and emotionally for very long without a reprieve now and then.
- Kids take time.
Whether it’s eating a single bowl of cereal, or putting on a pair of shoes, expect it to take three times as long when there is a kid involved. It is very hard to get done what needs to be done (settling the Estate after someone passes away, making important phone calls to medical centers or lawyers, etc…) when it takes all morning just to get through breakfast.
- Kids can’t go everywhere.
Whether it’s to counselling, the lawyer’s office, a funeral home, or a hospital, there are some places that are just not easy or appropriate to take a child. When these appointments/errands happen frequently, parents quickly run out of available or willing babysitters.
Child care is often a missing piece that hurting families need to compensate for when life gets tough. Even parents that are fortunate enough to live near trustworthy family and friends feel shy about asking too often, afraid that they will lose a willing future sitter or lose a good friendship, so they make-do, or grin-and-bear-it even when their life circumstances are demanding more.
A lot of parents feel ashamed to ask for help. Our North American culture has convinced us that we need to do it all, and that we’re big fat failures if we don’t. It’s a lot of pressure.
Hurting caregivers who need help more frequently quickly feel inadequate and become depressed. They start to believe that they are not good enough for their kids.
An offer to babysit without being asked is the greatest gift you can give to a hurting friend who has children.
If you have children of your own, consider reaching out more often when you know your friends are going through something big. Offer more playdates at your home. Offer to bring their children along when you are going on outings to the park. Figuratively throw a life preserver to another parent who is drowning.
If you don’t have children, or your children are grown, babysitting can be more intimidating. I understand that. That is why I brainstormed some ideas just for you. Please have a look and give one a try. It might not be as bad as you think.
OK, without further ado, here is the list I promised:
Five Ways To Babysit
(When You’re Not Good At Babysitting)
- Drive Them to School
Not all families have access to a school bus. Some of them live too far away for the bus, and some of them live too close! (This has become an even more common problem since the beginning of the Covid-19 Pandemic. In order to reduce the number of children on the bus at a time, most schools have expanded their “walk zone” considerably. It’s usually close enough/safe enough for upper elementary kids to walk, but the younger ones now require Mom or Dad to walk them or drive them. Now you know.)
Taking on the responsibility of driving and drop-off once in awhile really will make a difference.
For the parent who is chronically ill or mentally ill, it means that they don’t have to get themselves mentally and emotionally ready to face people. It’s a big deal trying to hide all of that pain, plaster on a smile, and interact with others in that state. Believe me. On my dark days I have debated with myself whether or not to even take the kids to school, because the inconvenience of having them home all day long felt less difficult than facing the world without bursting into tears.
For the parent who has a new baby at home, it means that they don’t have to potentially interrupt a sleeping infant and load them into the car. It also means that they don’t have to get themselves dressed and be presentable just yet. They can go back to bed and try to catch up on sleep after a long night of NOT sleeping between feedings, changings, and walking the floor with a newborn.
If you’re a morning person, driving a family’s children to school before you go about the rest of your day is a way to share the load of childcare without having to do the parts of babysitting you are not comfortable with (be it feeding, dressing, etc…)
- Drive Them to Sports/Music/Dance
Much like driving kids to school, this is a way to help out a family with childcare without being too hands-on. Drive the kids to their extracurricular activities, sit in the waiting area for an hour with your phone or a good book, then drive them home again. It’s simple, and it gives parents the precious gift of 1+ hours of peace and quiet. (Worth the equivalent of approximately One Million Dollars in parent currency.)
- Take Them to A Movie
Nervous about babysitting, because you don’t know how to entertain young children? You don’t have to! Take them to a movie where the entertainment is built in, and you aren’t even expected to talk.
So many caregivers feel guilty about not being “fun enough” when they are going through issues at home, because they want the very best for their kids. Allowing them some time to rest, while knowing that their child(ren) are having a good time will mean the world to them.
- Take them to an Indoor Playzone
Much like a movie, a playzone provides the entertainment for you, taking the pressure off you to be creative. It also runs off some kid energy, which will make Mom & Dad eternally grateful!
There are many different types of play places depending on your area and the age of the children you are watching: indoor jungle gyms, trampoline parks, mini golf, toy libraries, go-carts, climbing walls, science centers. Also, a number of public places like libraries and museums offer classes/workshops for kids and an adult to participate in together, such as: story hours, arts & crafts, cooking classes, puppet shows.
Parents will have a good idea of what their kids are into, so just ask! An offer to take the kids out for a fun and/or educational experience will absolutely make you the honorary grandparent/auntie/uncle of the year!
- Take them to a Park
If you are more comfortable with entertaining children, but cannot babysit in your own home, due to it not being baby-proofed, etc… think outside the box (of the four walls of your home). Go to a park and play at the playground/paddling pool/spray pad/skating rink. You can also try other outdoor activities like a biking trail, the beach, or a pick-your-own berry patch.
This way, you can babysit without the worries of not enough space, or too many fragile items in your home.
© 2021 Ashley Lilley – First time commenting? Please read my Comment Policy.