... some peace of mind. Seriously, when was the last time you gave yourself the gift of some peace of mind? Like, really took some time out to do something you wanted to do? (And no, running out to the grocery store while your husband watches the baby doesn't count). I am relatively new to Mommy World, but it seems to me that every mom I meet has Major Guilt Syndrome (aka MGS). You know, the kind where they feel like they're not spending enough time with their kids/providing enough stimulation/buying them enough stuff. It doesn't matter whether you're a stay-at-home-mom, a work-from-home-mom, or a work-out-of-the-home-mom. We all suffer from MGS. It's almost as if, along with those extra ten postpartum pounds that you just CANNOT lose, and those bizarre things on your chest that have a vague resemblance to your boobs , someone up there thought it would be hilarious to give us moms a healthy dose of some hormone that contributes to MGS. We analyze our every thought, our every motive, and decide that if it doesn't equate to our kids being totally and uncompromisingly happy, we don't need to do it. Meanwhile, the stresses and pressures of our everyday lives build and build (being gorgeous, intelligent and fashionable takes work, people!) and we find ourselves in a go-nowhere-do-nothing rut. I know this because I found myself in this very same rut recently. I've been a stay-at-home-mom for 9 months now, and started to get a little stir-crazy around 3 months, then again at 4 months, and then again at 6 months. At 3 months, I went on a job interview. On my way there, I saw a billboard advertising a mother-baby product (I don't even remember what it was), and broke down in tears. I went to the interview, but decided I wasn't ready to take on a job yet.
Then at 4 months, I decided to get a babysitter. We lived in a reallllly small town at the time (I mean, shooting whistle pigs was the officical town pastime), and the local mom's group had about 5 people. Of those five, one of the moms said she'd love to babysit for Nicholas. She did that twice before I arrived at her door a little earlier than announced one day, to pick him up, and found him sitting in a diaper full of poop, in front of the TV. I vowed to myself that I would never again get a sitter! MGS was in full gear.
At 6 months, I wanted to get a job (again). However, by this time I was 3 months pregnant and I realized that probably no one would hire me. I decided to resign myself to a grim fate of changing diapers, picking up toys, feeding Nick, and rinse and repeat, for 8 hours a day, everyday. That was when it hit me - that there had to be reliable sitters out there... right? I mean, I refused to believe that all the sitters out there would let my infant watch daytime soaps while they talked on the phone to their long-lost cousin in Arkansas. The only question was, how do I find said sitter? Thus began my Yahoo! search. And the answer was simple... I needed a nanny agency.
We are now the proud members of Sweet Peas Nanny Agency. This agency, as most nanny agencies, does all the work for you. They recruit highly qualified sitters and nannies (part- and full-time), check references, conduct background checks, and compose profiles on their sitters and nannies. You can see what education your sitter or nanny has, how he/she plans to entertain your child, and how he/she defines him or herself as a person. As a member family, you can list your preferences for a nanny - what personality characteristics you would like your nanny or sitter to have, what experience, what chores he or she would have to do, how many hours you need a nanny or sitter per week, etc. etc. You can be as picky or as lenient as you like. Sweet Peas Nannies even sent us a "babysitting log" that the sitter has to fill out while she's here. Basically, it lets you see how she spent each hour with your child. Sweet Peas also has a program called Learning Through Play, and each of their nannies and sitters are trained in this technique of child interaction. They teach the sitter/nanny that interacting one-on-one with a child is the best thing for the child (for stimulation and safety), which I feel, is a great philosophy.
This service cost us $50 (membership fee), and everytime we get our sittter to come over, we have to pay a $10 placement fee, plus the sitter's hourly wage. If you get really comfortable with a sitter, and want your children to have the same sitter everytime, you can "Go Direct", which means the agency will provide you the sitter's contact information so that you can bypass the middle man and just call the sitter whenever you need him or her.
Almost every decently-sized city in the U.S. has a nanny agency. You can call the BBB and your state's Attorney General's office to make sure their record is squeaky clean. We did, because we are extremely picky and didn't want a repeat of what I call "Dirty Diaper Sitter Situation".
Here at Pretty, Witty and Functional, my aim is to provide you with hints, tips and products that will either (a) make your life as a mom easier, (b) provide you with some really pretty things or (c) both of the above. I hope this post has helped with (a), and with easing some of that MGS. Knowing your child is well taken care of so you can go out and pursue whatever it is that you want to pursue is so empowering. Tonight, the husband and I are going out to dinner and a movie to celebrate our 6th anniversary - freedom is a wonderful thing!
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