Finding A Babysitter — The Search Continues

Don’t let the smile fool you, the bib tells the story.

The past three years of parenthood has brought its share of challenges.  One of our bigger challenges is finding a reliable babysitter.

Like most first-time parents, we wanted to be involved in every little thing. I remember both of us watching him nap and changing those first diapers together.  Like most newbies, we wanted to be the perfect parents, forgetting you don’t achieve perfection, you strive for it.  Little things like that kept us from going out much those first months.

Esther’s aunt Titi Luisa, the original baby whisperer, instinctively called and offered to watch the baby.  The calls always came at the right time, giving us a chance to run a few errands or maybe go to Starbucks for a blissful hour in a baby-free environment.

It’s easy to get caught up in the perception of the perfection—especially when you grew up watching Brady Bunch reruns.  I watch the Brady Bunch now and see Mike and Carol Brady knocking back a few cocktails and leaving the stressful stuff to Alice, the maid.

Looks like the babysitter loaded him up on Benadryl.

Titi Luisa wasn’t the only person who offered to watch Cristian during early days but as new parents we were a bit overprotective.  Maybe our expectations are a bit unrealistic—our ideal babysitter had the compassion of Mother Theresa and the strength and the resiliency of a Navy Seal.  We had a vetting process more stringent than the White House—of course I’ve heard their vetting process has slipped a bit over the past year.

Watching a three-month old baby is easy, just give him a bottle and wait for him to take a nap.  It’s amazing how fast those initial babysitting offers dried up after the Cristian started walking—of course posts like this didn’t help either.

Babysitting a hyperactive three-year old without using Benadryl isn’t for the faint of heart.  Your neighbor’s 13-year old daughter checking her Instagram page on her iPhone isn’t getting it done.  Try that with Cristian and the house will look like Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria within 15 minutes.

We found an excellent babysitter who flew through our vetting process easily, a pleasant 30-something Central American woman.  She came highly recommended by family members, and was bilingual. She was incredibly energetic, taking Cristian to the park, playing with him at home, and bringing an iPad to keep him entertained.

Esther with the boys

Our Latina Mary Poppins was very pricey—the GDP of a third-world country pricey.  She was building her dream home in her country, babysitting Cristian allowed her to send home money to finance the construction.  She stepped up when my dad was sick, babysitting Cristian at a moment’s notice, sometimes staying with him until late into the night.  Rumor has it her waterfront villa has a wing in it named after, paid for from with babysitting earnings.

We’re currently vetting her replacement, because we didn’t want to put up a kidney as collateral as she priced tennis courts and an olympic-sized pool.  Over the past months we’ve swapped babysitting chores with my in-laws—giving each other a breather by watching each other’s kids.  So far, it’s worked out pretty well, the boys get a chance to play together, the adults get a night out, and Esther and I get to keep our vital organs.

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Seven Things to Know Before Having Kids

Esther and I BC - Before Cristian
Esther and I BC – Before Cristian

Parenthood is a life-changing experience, I love being a Dad.  That said any parent, or more specifically this parent is letting you know your life is going to change because you WILL make sacrifices along the way.  I knew this coming in—at least I thought I did.

If you are thinking about starting a family this is a must read—it will give you some insight on what lies ahead.

Pregnancy – You want a sneak peek on parenthood, pregnancy is a good place to start. There’s weight gain, sleepless nights and moodiness—and that was just me.  Prepare for a rollercoaster ride of Lamaze Classes, baby registries, and unsolicited advice from all sides.  I don’t know what was rougher dealing with my better half’s hormones or agreeing on the baby’s name.  Don’t worry about the sleep deprivation—you’ll catch up once the baby’s born.

What the first week feels like.
What the first week feels like.

New Baby/Clueless Parents – The first days are a blur of, baby bottles, dirty diapers, and caffeine (mine not the baby’s).  Bonus points if you survive without getting peed on.  After a week of this your friends and family will want to see the baby.  Hopefully they will do more than post selfies with your child on Instagram.  Helpful hint, don’t be shy when someone asks, “What can I bring.”  It’s a limited-time offer so forget the chicken nuggets and go for the big ticket items like surf and turf.

The Baby Tour – Once the baby’s older you’ll be required to take him on tour.  This is done for the relatives who couldn’t make it to your home or were afraid of the cranky old man, otherwise known as me.  Packing the car with the baby bag, separate clothes bag, laundry bag, (all stuffed with individually packed zip lock bags), stroller, playpen, and hopefully the baby is time consuming.  I’m an experienced logistics guy who coordinated corporate events in every major convention center and hotel in North America, it was less stressful than loading the car for a twitchy mommy wanting to show off her pride and joy.

Air Travel – Is the Baby Tour on steroids.  Imagine packing everything listed above in addition to your own luggage and spending at least three hours in a cramped airline seat with a squirming toddler in your lap.  Sure the baby flies free but would it hurt the airlines to throw in a few free drinks?  When things get rough go to the parents’ secret weapon–Benadryl.  Travelling with a baby makes you long for the days when you travelled with just one backpack.

Before, the toys are neatly stacked while the baby sleeps.
Before, the toys are neatly stacked while the baby sleeps.

House Looks Like a Natural Disaster – Do you like an orderly home?  Does your bathroom have cute little soaps and towels only guests are allowed to use? Does your living room come straight from the pages of Better Homes and Gardens?  Toddlers change that in a hurry.  Once they start walking you’re immaculate home will look like the Jersey Shore after Hurricane Sandy.  If you’re lucky you may qualify for a FEMA reimbursement.

After - The baby wakes up. Imagine what the rest of the house looks like.
After – The baby wakes up. Imagine what the rest of the house looks like.

Sleeping the Night – Scratch this one off the list for a few years, there’s no rhyme or reason to a baby’s sleep patterns, don’t try to understand it, just manage it–like a pregnant woman’s hormonal outbursts.  Haven’t you been reading this blog?  If you’re lucky the baby only wakes up once a night.  Of course teething can change that quickly.  Don’t worry, you’ll learn to function on four-hours sleep.

Lazy Sunday Mornings – Sunday mornings used to be about selfish pleasures, a morning run, an IHOP breakfast or lying in bed with Esther reading the Sunday paper.  A baby changes this and those simple pleasures become luxuries.  Sunday mornings are now about watching PBS Kids and chasing the baby around the living room.

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