We have been using non-family babysitters ever since Braden was 1. I used to bring my play pen and try to time it so I’d put him down for a nap at a friend’s house so I could go do some errands or go to a meeting, etc. and he always did so good. It’s another major perk of sleep training—having babies/toddlers/kids that will sleep anywhere for anyone. Whether you’re comfortable having non-family babysitters or not is a very personal choice for you and your family, but here are a few reasons why we absolutely love ours.
Family Can’t Always Help (and they might not want to!)
When you live 3+ hours away from your mom, like I do, you don’t have the benefit of free and frequent babysitting. Mind you, even if my mom lived across the field from us, I still wouldn’t want to abuse her as a babysitter, because I feel it could really put a strain on my relationship with her, and hers with the kids. Lots of people don’t have any family around to ask for help, I’m lucky I have her when I do. If it weren’t for my mom, we wouldn’t be able to go on vacations, just me and Jay, so we are very grateful for 24 hour babysitting from mom when we do go somewhere.
I do have my in-laws very close to us, and I’m very thankful when my mother-in-law can take the kids (usually just Jonathan now) an hour or two here and there, usually to help Jay out when I’m working and he has a meeting or a hockey game. I also have amazing sisters-in-law who help me out as they can, and I help them out too, with child care when Jay is in the really busy farming seasons of life. It’s really nice to have a childcare deal worked out with friends or family so that you can drop your kids off with them (or vice versa) when you need to get your hair cut or would like to do a grocery run without the kids.
The Freedom is Priceless
This is my favourite advantage of a non-family babysitter: the freedom. There’s no expectations of being back on time, or rushing your errands or your date, because it is their paid job to provide childcare to your children. I remember fondly watching the clock on my babysitting jobs as a young teenager just hoping they’d stay out an extra hour or two from when they told me so I’d get to earn more money. I always aim to make our babysitters’ job as easy as possible with meals already prepared to ready-to-make if we’re gone at supper time with easy-to-follow instructions to put the kids to bed if they’re new.
I wouldn’t be able to put the older kids in soccer in the spring if it wasn’t for our babysitter. It gets too late, and too much work if I’m honest, to have Jonathan at the soccer field for two hours at a time every week. I used a babysitter for any of Braden’s hockey games that I could this year, just because I cannot focus on the game if Jonathan is there and I want to be able to watch! I might even start getting a babysitter for 1/2 the day in the summer if Jay is busy just go to run errands child-free; it’s worth every penny to me.
It’s Good For the Kids
Our kids have loved all of our babysitters, they have a lot of fun playing with someone other than mom or dad. Often mom and dad are busy doing mom and dad things, so when someone is in charge to take care of them that is solely there to focus on them, they really love all that attention. If it’s been awhile since we’ve had a babysitter, the older boys have both asked if we can go on a date so their babysitters can come over soon!
Having non-family babysitters works so well for us, so I just thought I’d share why. Absolutely no judgment from me if you feel the opposite and choose to only use family. We have the very fortunate situation of living in a small community where I have trusted all of our babysitters based on recommendation from friends, and now a few of our friends have daughters old enough to babysit, so we’ve seen these kids grow up themselves and know that we can trust them with our kids.