I don’t know exactly how we ended up in this situation, but I find that one of the toughest things about being a single parent with three varied age kids we’ve raised with attachment parenting ideals is that they’re not babysitter friendly.
What do I mean by that? Simply that they aren’t responsive to babysitters, don’t listen, and generally are anxious and upset if they’re with someone other than Linda or I. Not during the day, I’ll note, but I’m talking evenings, bed time.
As I have written before over the years that I’ve run this blog, bedtime has been a perpetual challenge and frankly it seems like bedtime problems are a great unspoken problem for parents in our society, particularly those of us that are trying to create a “safe container” for our children. (do I sound like I live in Boulder, Colorado, or what?)
I can’t remember a week, even, where bedtime was quick, smooth and without hassles, and though my 13yo A- is definitely completely cool with her bedtime ritual and turns off her light at the appointed time (well, after complaining that she has “just a page or two” and pushes for more reading time, but I’m okay with that), the other children still seem to have issues.
My 5yo still won’t go to sleep unless we cuddle up, read a book, and then I lay in bed with her until she conks out. It’s nice, it’s sweet, but when it takes up 45-60 minutes/night, that means that my older kids really lose out on some non-5yo time with me, and that’s a bummer for all of us. The vision of “tucking them in, giving them a kiss, and they fall asleep all by themselves” is lovely, but not my life.
So how does this relate to babysitters? I’m not sure, but they are sure attached – go figure – to Linda and I and just have a hard time with someone else replacing us, even for an evening.
This kinda sucks because it means that the evenings I have my kids, I am essentially trapped and can’t have any other plans, be they drinks with a friend, dinner, or even an evening out. And worse, it feel self-reinforcing: since I am 100% focused on them when my kids are with me, they’ve learned to expect that and get cranky if I’m even on the phone for five minutes with a friend or colleague.
I know – and fully intend – to introduce a trusted babysitter into the picture, starting with them taking care of the kids of an afternoon while I do something else (the gym anyone?) and then gradually try longer evening stretches, but when nighttime is a super hands-on experience for me, how is an inevitably more detached babysitter going to handle things?
And I am very aware of the AP friends I have who talk about never having time to themselves and having, year after year, been there every single night for their children. That feels almost like parenting as martyrdom somehow.
The long and short of it is that this is one of those dimensions of attachment parenting that fall into the “unintended consequences” bucket and it does make me wonder just how independent my children are when babysitting just tends to fizzle out and fail.
Thoughts? What are your experiences with babysitting AP kids?