Yesterday, I got a break in the form of mommy’s little helper. No, not vodka. Or a pot-infused brownie. Or a brownie of any kind.
I am talking about hiring a mom’s helper- a teenager not quite old enough to be left alone with your kids, but able to entertain them while you get some much needed work done without being interrupted with cries of “he called me a toilet” every other minute. (My kids are young. Toilet is probably the worst name they can think of)
The girl in question is the thirteen year old daughter of a friend of mine. She has two younger sisters, aged five and six, so she is well versed in playing with kids. My oldest, Liam, is pretty smitten with her. It was actually his idea to have her come over. Brenda had assisted me with a class earlier in the week. Liam wanted to know if she could come play again. I thought about it, texted her mother and asked if Brenda would like to make a little extra money playing with the boys while I did some writing. Brenda came over a few hours later.
Having a mom’s helper solves a couple of problems. First, babysitters are expensive. I don’t know if you have hired a babysitter in the last couple of years, but they are now paid more than adult employees working for minimum wage. My regular babysitter charges $10 an hour. She is worth every penny. She leaves me detailed babysitting reports, arrives with her own bag of crafts and games, and always ensures they are happy and safe when we return. Still, it is a far cry from the $2 an hour I earned for watching four kids at a time when I was a babysitter two decades ago. My mom’s helper gets paid $5 an hour. Its affordable for me, puts a little money in her pocket and still gives me what I need- a break.
When I hire a babysitter, it is usually because I have some sort of activity to engage in outside of my home. Most women I know either want or need time in their house, but with the stipulation of being “off duty.” While I still interjected from time to time (no, you may not throw the Magna Tiles), for the most part, the boys were more than happy to dote on Brenda and leave me free to work. I spent two and a half hours writing and researching literary journals.
I even had enough time leftover to shower, shave my legs, and tweeze my eyebrows. My husband arrived home from work and wondered who this well groomed woman was and did she have plans for dinner. Ok, not really. I had on a worn tank top and men’s boxer shorts. I hadn’t transformed into January Jones after a few plucks with the tweezers. Still, I did not smell like a foot, and my legs felt like legs, not cacti. Much improved.
I also view hiring Brenda as investing in a future babysitter. When my current sitter goes off to college, I will already have Brenda trained and waiting in the wings. She does require training. Right now, Brenda identifies as one of the kids- not the authority figure. When she and Liam made a game out of knocking down Lego towers by kicking a ball through them, I had to step in and put the kabosh on it. But because I am in the house, within sight and sound range, I don’t have to worry about any major damage- at least that is the plan.
The best part was at the end of the day, I was able to relax. I wasn’t kicking myself for the story I failed to revise. I was congratulating myself for sending it out for submission. The toys were already in their bins. Brenda had picked them up with the boys before I took her home. I was able to enjoy a manhattan and watch an episode of Six Feet Under.
Go ahead. Splurge and spend $10 on yourself. For the price of a movie, you could have two hours to yourself. You’ll feel a lot more satisfied than when you gorge yourself on popcorn and guess the ending fifteen minutes into the film.