Babysit five kids? Willingly? Sure! Why not. (Ok fine, 2 of the kids I babysat were actually mine.) I did it for the sake of helping out some of my favorite cousins. I did it for the challenge. I did it so the babysitter-gods take extra notice and never leave me without a sitter when I need one.
5 kids. FIVE KIDS. F-I-V-E. K-I-D-S.
AGES: 9, 7, almost 2.5 (LadyP), 1.5 and 10months (LilMiss). HOURS: 3:30-11:30pm.
Was it fun? Was it a frenzy? YES and YES. Would I do it again? Sure… now that I learned everything I need to know to do it well (and it actually WAS fun). The teenager-me is confused right now… considering how much a HATED babysitting as a teenager. Yeah.
The five-kid thing didn’t hit me until about a half hour before the brood showed up at my house. After downing a Diet Coke (for superb artificial energy) I came up with a simple objective: Keep everyone alive and occupied. Period. (Thank goodness Hubby was up for this as well… couldn’t have done it without him.) And if the kids ended up happy, well that’d be icing on the cake.
So how to kill time? The usuals: We kicked the ball outside. We got the ball stuck in the rose bushes. We ordered pizza. We ate the pizza. We made cookies. We drew pictures. We colored the pictures. We drank milk (LOTS of it). We ate the cookies with milk. We watched movies (1 and a half, to be exact). The 9-year old schooled me all about American Girl (they charge WHHHAAAAAT for a doll’s bed?!?!?).
The action was nonstop, people. But it was my intention going in: DON’T GIVE ANYONE FREE TIME TO START THINKING ABOUT HOW TO FILL THEIR TIME. What’s that silly phrase? Idle hands are the devil’s playthings? Something like that…
But even with my constant circus-performing, keeping my two eyes on three kids under the age of 2 was interesting. One goes one way, another flies another way, and the other one somehow disappears before your very eyes. I don’t have to tell any of you we-have-3-kids-under-age-4 parents that. (By the way, Hubby: Thanks for ditching me for 20-minutes to go take a shower by yourself.) How people have 3 kids under 3, or 4 kids under 5, or 5 kids under 9… I’ll never know. My love, admiration and respect for you just multiplied by about a zillion (even though part of me thinks you’ve got to be certifiably crazy to willingly try this at home). But back to my babysitting…
Here’s what I LEARNED:
Babysitting other people’s kids is a piece of cake when you have permission to treat them like your own. (A MASSIVE thank-you to these kids’ real fab-mom for giving me this suggestion in the first place.) Yes, I told them that there was no running inside the house. Yes, I nagged them to wipe their feet, hands and mouths before touching any furniture. Yes, I asked them to help me with dressing, changing and wiping the babies. I told them yes, no, stop, very good and everything in between. I treated all the kids like they were all my own. I bossed them around – with a smile, mind you – like their own mother. (The little one even started calling me “Mom,” to which I’m hoping his real mom thinks is funny.) Getting through the whole night successfully with no cuts, bruises or ER calls was a TEAM effort. And I think the kids understood that through my
bossiness guidance. I was the captain, they were my troops and rules were rules (don’t get me wrong, we DID have fun… the 9-year old even said so). But, THEY WERE ALSO *GREAT* KIDS to begin with. FABULOUS, in fact. (To which I fully credit their mom for making them so.)
And at the end of the 8 hours…. well… I flopped. Literally. On my bed. I was pooped. Beat. But nothing worth doing well is done easily.
I just hope those babysitter-gods took notice.
HAVE YOU EVER TAKEN CARE OF A BUNCH OF KIDS? WHAT DID YOU LEARN?