Today, our babysitter picked up The Boy and took him for the day, leaving me with a whole chunk of Me-Time.
There are plenty of single moms out there who will tell you that they feel guilty leaving their kids with a babysitter so that they can pursue selfish interests. I would not be one of those single moms. I also don’t feel guilty being a working mom, because being a career woman is part of my identity. If I stay too long at home, I go stir-crazy, and so does The Boy. To him, there IS such a thing as too much vacation (this is where I think he’s a little nuts, but different strokes, right?).
Me-Time is essential to me, for my sanity. You may think I am using that term loosely, but if you have a kid with special needs, you know that your brain works similarly to that of a battle medic – always alert for a major disaster, and ready to solve problems at a moment’s notice. Me-Time is a break from that, and it is blissful. It recharges me, and helps me come back to my child, appreciating him for the amazing kid that he is.
In my Singlemomdom, I am an only child, meaning I do not have siblings ready and willing to provide free babysitting. And my parents live 900 miles away. Therefore, I rely heavily on babysitters. This is not a foolproof system, and there are times when I just can’t do what I’d need or like to do. I have had to take days off of work, often at inopportune times, but that’s just part of it. There isn’t any more I can do about it, so stressing about it isn’t going to help anyone.
But how do I find Fantastic Babysitters? It isn’t easy, and I will give you my disclaimer now that, as a teacher, I kind of have an advantage. I have a bevy of former students whom I know I can trust with my only offspring. But not even this has always worked out well.
I found our best and most fantastic babysitter on Craigslist (remember when I told you about Craigslist??). It was shortly after the divorce was final, and I realized that I would need someone pretty regularly, as my job requires me to attend several evening functions every month. I looked on Craigslist, and narrowed my choices down to three. I contacted them, asked for resumes and references, and scheduled interviews. I found excellent questions to ask online, and also asked about their experiences with kids with special needs. From those interviews, it was a no-brainer which one I would hire, and four years later, she is like one of the family.
There are other resources out there as well, if you just aren’t in a financial place to be able to afford babysitters. Think about swapping time with a friend who has kids, or contacting your local National Honor Society chapter to see if any of their members need service hours. College students may also need service hours, or observation hours if they are entering the education or child development fields. If you have kids who have special needs, contact some of your local special needs groups to see if they offer respite care, or know of any organizations that do.
I think we single moms can fall easily into the martyr role, and truthfully, some of us revel in that. I work hard, and truthfully, I’m a better mom because I’ve had to do it on my own, but I am also a better mom because I take time for myself. I have not put my interests and hobbies on the back burner until my son turns 18. Maybe that’s because unlike moms of neurotypical kids, I may not have an empty nest at that point, and my nest may never be empty, but that’s for another post. I still need to be me, and I still need alone time to pursue those interests. If I don’t I will grow to resent this precious boy of mine. It helps to have a Fantastic Babysitter, so if you don’t have one yet, go get one! You won’t know what you ever did without him/her!!