On any given weekday, the knock on the front door has me rushing to grab my purse before racing my kids to the front door to let the babysitter in. I greet her quickly and give her the rundown of the nap schedule and mealtime. I point out the pile of extra clothes in case there's a potty-training accident and kiss my two adorable bundles of energy on their foreheads before whisking out the door. I've left a list of written reminders on the counter, including my son's peanut allergy and an assortment of emergency phone numbers.
The babysitter has my number programmed in her phone and knows to text or call if she needs anything. I tell her she's welcome to text me if she needs anything, but if she does, to please lie to me.
Not in a major, my child's in danger or is hurt or is acting sick and something's really wrong way. As long as my children are being watched after, cared for, fed, changed, and played with, please wait until I get home to give me the rundown. I don't need to know that my daughter broke into tears because her brother stole her favourite doll or that it took my son five minutes of screaming to calm down after I left — but now he's completely fine and having fun. Please don't text me to say my daughter keeps asking for me and whines for mummy when I've been gone for an hour.
I only hire a babysitter after I've gathered several recommendations (often from close friends), done a complete background check, and conducted an in-person interview. I also have the potential sitter come over while I'm home the first couple of times to ensure my children are comfortable and familiar with her.
Once I feel like it's a good fit, I don't want to worry (more than the typical "mum anxiety" we all experience). I want to be able to enjoy those few hours of time to myself. It's my time to run errands solo or sit at a coffee shop and get some work done. I can meet up with a girlfriend for lunch or go for a long run. I don't want to be stressed over the minor, solvable hiccups my kids face when they're with the babysitter.
I'm grateful to the babysitter for the text I get that says my kids are doing great and she'll see me in an hour. Sure, the kids may be having mini meltdowns because she refused them ice cream at 10 a.m. or won't turn on their favourite cartoon because they can have more fun if they break out the Legos or get out the art supplies. But that doesn't mean my kids aren't fine — and I'm none the wiser.
So, while I enjoy the rush of excitement from my kids when I first walk back in the door and I get the rundown from the babysitter of how it went while I was gone, I absolutely need those few hours of kid-free time . . . both guilt- and worry-free.