Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Date nights and babysitters


During pregnancy you seem to be public property, I am not sure which is worse: people trying to touch your bump, the labour horror stories or the constant advice. The worst thing about the advice is that it is not offered lightly but instead barked as a command. “Get your sleep now, you will need all your energy later”, “Enjoy every moment, they grow up so quickly”, or even reminders to keep the romance alive in your marriage and “Keep up the date nights”; at eight months pregnant romance is not the first thing on your agenda!

Date nights for parents? Great idea. Loads of things can be a great idea when extended families living close at hand are there to help. It would be great if we had family to pop in and babysit at a moments notice, come to think of that any babysitters would be good. Like many people we had moved to where the jobs are, and our closest relatives were over half an hour away and my family are hundreds of miles off. When I was small babysitting was a guaranteed teenage income, but when the whole village had lived cheek by jowl for generations you knew with a fair degree of certainty that the babysitters are trustworthy. If I were to try the teenage babysitter here I may end up with Vicky Pollard, so scrub that, I trust only a DBS (formerly a CRB) check!

Initially we thought that going to family homes for events would be easier, but far from it. At a family event all the free babysitters are in attendance. Every time we had a “do” we seemed to spend about a hundred pounds on another expensive agency Nanny that we had no lasting contact with.

Grudgingly, however, I have to admit that the advice of keeping up the date nights is sound. Sometimes it can be as simple as dinner by candle light in the dining room rather than at the breakfast bar, at other times we do reciprocal babysitting with a Mummy friend down the road, and sometimes we just have to bite the bullet and find an external babysitter who we can trust. You can try your luck with Care.com a kind of dating agency to help you find carers and babysitters (including ones with their DBS checks in place).

Looking at their website I may be tempted to add another bit of advice for dog owning Mums to be - for the last weeks of pregnancy and first weeks of motherhood, seriously consider a dog walker. Eighteen months on, rubbing my Caesarian scar, that is one change I would have certainly made to DB's early months!
I met up with the lovely ladies from Care.com at the Mumsnet Bloggers Conference, and they asked me what I thought of their services and - WARNING - they have paid me to write this piece. The thoughts are all my own, but the gratuitous plug at the end has been SPONSORED - the first time I have strayed into commercial territory. They seem like good people, so I hope you don't mind.

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