Your new kid thoroughly consumes you and your partner. But there will come a point when nagging memories begin to creep in. You used to really like hanging out with the mother of your kid. The clothes you wore while you laughed and drank weren’t covered in spit-up stains. You used to eat nice dinners in places that didn’t smell like poop and butt lotion. While now you sit and sigh beside each other while blankly staring at Baby Einstein, you once went to things called movies.
Yeah. Those were good times. And they can be again. Right now in fact. You need a date night, and that means you need a babysitter.
The Great Escape
The first question to be answered: what age can you leave your kid with someone else?
That’s pretty simple. If your partner is breastfeeding, you can pretty much leave your kid as soon as their proficient at the boob. And if they have anything in common with you, that shouldn’t take long. If they’re dining on formula, you can jet even sooner.
Experts say that you could bolt with your lady-love (and leave behind some pre-pumped breastmilk) as early as a couple of weeks after birth. And while that’s the reality of the situation, the squishy part comes in convincing your partner (and yourself) that you can leave the kid for a couple of hours without turning them into some mommy-never-loved-me psychokiller. Consider the following:
- Rested Is Best: You are both going to be better parents if you have taken some time to breath a refresh. The bad breakdowns come during your over-tired, stressed and resentful moments. Didn’t you learn anything from watching The Road? Aside from a healthy fear of post-apocalyptic cannibals?
- Guilt Is Good: You know how you can tell if you’re a good parent? You actually give a shit about leaving your kid with someone else for a few hours. If you were cavalier about it, there might be some issues.
- Kid Don’t Care: The one who is going to have the least issues with this is your kid. Any possible distress they might feel from your absence is transitory at worst. A couple hours will not kill the bond you’re building. Unless you’re Daniel Craig in Spectre.
The Night’s Watch
Once you’ve convinced yourself that you can leave your kid, it’s time to figure out who to leave them with. Many new parents in this situation will opt for family members. This is where mother-in-laws truly earn their keep. Grandparents are the gold-standard for care when you’re looking for a couple hours out with your partner. Just make sure they know the rules, and be ready to forgive them completely if they break those rules. Also, hide your stash just in case.
Things get a bit dicier when it comes to babysitters. There are a ton of options out there for sourcing someone who’s not going to drink your booze cabinet dry and leave sex stains on your furniture. But the key is that you do not hire anyone unless you feel completely confident in their abilities. Here’s some things you’ll want to do:
Whether you find someone through an online resource or local word of mouth, you need to dig up dirt. They should provide you with at least 2 references, and you should grill them. How do their kids like the sitter? Is the sitter animated and active with the kids or more even-keeled? Did they ever drop a ball? A kid?
But remember, no matter how much other people like a sitter, ultimately you are the one who needs to feel comfortable with their abilities and skills.
Invite the babysitter over for a paid observation. At least one of you should be present during this visit and your prospective sitter can play with the kids while you get household things done. It will help you understand the dynamic. Is your prospective sitter is more interested in hanging with your kid or naked Snapchattering (or whatever the youths are doing these days)?
Now that everything is in place, you’ll want to split for a couple of hours. Just make sure you’ve set the ground rules.
- Is the TV allowed on?
- What about phones?
- Have you left a list of things your kid enjoys?
- Have you left your cell numbers?
- Is there an emergency contact number if your phones aren’t working?
- Are you clear on the rates and what you’ll hand them when you get back?
Perfect. Now get the hell out of there and try not to spend the entire time worrying about your kid. It might not be just like the glory days, but at least the only crying will be from relief as you hit your second glass of uninterrupted vino.