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March 5, 2011

Woot! I Did It Again!

(Channeling some old school Britney…)

I did it again! I left my girlies!!!

I didn’t intend for my girls to spend every waking minute with me until they were more than two years old. And that is a slight exaggeration…there were a few waking moments they spent solely with Daddy, but those were few and far between.

No, I didn’t plan it this way…but we don’t have family close by, so when someone does come to visit, it’s not so I can have some “me” time.

And I was such a nut about every detail – namely the girls’ schedule and diet (and what else is there, really???) – especially for their first year of life, I didn’t have anyone I felt comfortable trusting them with outside of family.

About a year ago, I finally found a nice lady who was set to retire, whom we planned to have come and spend one afternoon a week with the girls. We knew it would be good for them…and Heaven knows it would be good for ME. I was heartbroken when the lady backed out on us.

Having spent a long time searching for this lady, I was devastated when things didn’t work, and then my devastation turned to resolve. I had made it over a year, and I could make it another year before the girls start a preschool program two afternoons a week this coming fall.

But then I had an idea…what if I compromised on my idea of having someone from the next generation to spend time with the girls? What if that someone was younger, even more along the lines of a “mother’s helper”?

I contacted a former colleague who lives in my neighborhood, whose daughter is a freshman at the university in town, and sure enough, Miss Jennifer was the perfect fit!

I knew I’d have to take things slowly in introducing the girls to the idea that there are the world...outside of their mommy and daddy.

The first few weeks, Miss Jennifer came over and hung out with the girls with me. The girls LOVE playing with her, and she’s so good with them.

I gradually put a little space between them and me…first doing some things in the kitchen (within their sight), and then moving into the living room (adjacent to the den).

Last week was our first big test. I had a massage scheduled for Friday afternoon, and there would be a 20-minute or so gap between when I needed to leave and when Hubby got home. The girls didn’t bat an eye when I told them Mommy needed to run an errand. Miss Jennifer later reported they affirmed, “Mommy running errands,” a couple of times, but they never cried!

And yesterday afternoon, I decided to go for a run in the neighborhood. I again used the excuse that Mommy needed to run some errands, and off I went. The girls were without Mommy for about 45 minutes, and again did so well!

I still think it will be a long time before I’m ready to turn the [sacred] bedtime routine over to someone else, but I do have hope that the hubs and I might possibly be able to sneak in a lunch date, or – gasp! – a matinee movie one day.

A few baby steps for the girls...and one giant leap for this mama...


Andrea said...

So very proud of you! :) i know what i huge feeling that can be! Even though I leave Molly and Luke everyday to go to work...I leave them in their house with my Mom or their daddy. That makes a huge difference! I am already having major anxiety over taking them to preschool! I know they will love it and it is so good for them, but that means Mommy loses control. Not really liking the sound of that! What am I going to do? Go to the nut house I guess! It will be fine! I just have to take baby steps just like you. Have a wonderful weekend!

Beth said...

Good for you! This sounds like a great situation for all involved. I'm sure Miss Jennifer loves hanging out with your sweet little ladies and the girls enjoy having a new friend. You will feel so much better knowing you can run out for a bit and take care of yourself every now and then! Such a smart Mommy!

Julia said...

Oh my gosh! I am EXACTLY the same way! We don't have family in town either. If I have an appointment of some sort--my hubby takes off work to watch the girls. If we go out, we have someone come to monitor sit after the girls go down for the night. No messing with that sacred bedtime routine!

If our family is visiting during bedtime or naptime---we make them go to the basement while we go through our routine (don't want the extra stimulation and distraction to mess with things). I know, I know---I'm a bit of a schedule nazi, but---why mess with a good thing?! It works, and goodness knows----when you find something that works---you stick with it come hell or high water!

That's awesome you've found someone that you trust to hang with your girls for a bit while you get out of the house. I hope that at some point I can figure out a similar arrangement.

Good job taking care of those girls, mama!

Anonymous said...

so we have to have someone come to the house once a week to do bedtime. i have to leave at 5:45 for an evening clinic. the kids go down at 6:30 and b gets home from class at 7. luckily, we have one gal who works with the kids at the daycare who comes over. seems weird to pay her so much money to be with the kids for 45 min before they go to sleep, but she does a decent job. of course we always wish we could do it. i actually really like bedtime!

good for you finding someone who can give you a little more Mandy time :)

The 'Ssippi Scoop said...

I was so that way with Bailey. She had to have feeding therapy at about 5 weeks old. I didn't think anybody but me could feed her the right way. Later, it was confirmed that they couldn't do it like me because they thought I was over-exagerating. I really didn't want anyone even touching her. I wouldn't let our nephew come over here straight from daycare. He had to at least scrub his hands and change his clothes. Drove my MIL nuts, but she soon learned most things were MY way. I've slowly but surely let go. In fact, she is spending the night with her Mammaw (my MIL, who still does things against my wishes). Bailey still sleeps on my pillow right up next to me, so I have no idea how we'll make it with these next 2 at night, but I've already resigned myself to the fact that I can't do it alone. I will be a working Mom of 3 under 3, so the help is not something I can neg. on this time around.

My plan is to make everyone stay away so that I can get them (and me) into a routine. Then it's fair game. And they will more than likely go to daycare at 5 months, if not before.

Of course, this is MY plan. We all now how that will turn out. And this is MY plan based on healthly, happy, full term babies. Not something I got the first time.

Double the Giggles said...

Once you completely do it, you'll never look back! We finally have a sitter (a responsible teen) who is great at the bed time routine. We actually started her with that, knowing she'd only have to entertain the boys for an hour or so, then it was off to bed. Now when we leave, the boys know we're going, and they cry. She steps right, scoops them up and tells us to go. Minutes later, she texts us to let us know everyone is a happy camper. It is actually easier for me to leave the kids with a sitter, who technically signed up for the job, rather than with one of our parents (both live close by and already help out more than I could ever have hoped for). I don't feel obligated to rush home from "me time" or "us time" when we have the sitter.

Deanna said...

Yay, Mandy!! I can imagine it's a lot harder to do without family around, but this is a good step for ALL of you! : ) It's awesome that the girls didn't mind at all.

Helene said...

I understand what a huge step this is for you! I remember going through something similar when my kids were really little. Such a catch 22...I desperately needed a break but I always felt so guilty and I missed the kids when I was away.

So good to know that your girls handled the transition well. It's a good feeling to know they're in good hands and you're able to get away for a little while to take care of you!

Rebecca said...

You're going to feel such a freedom now...we love Babysitter and use her more than we thought we would. We've even instituted monthly date nights just because we can!

Personal question: How much do you pay her?

Barbara Manatee said...

Yeah for you!!! and wow...can't believe it was that long before someone else stepped in to help out! With working, I obviously didn't have much choice to leave them in the care of someone else and in some ways that makes it easier yet harder to leave them at times.

Easier by that their babysitters are their (college aged) teachers from daycare/preschool. I know the kids love their teachers and the teacher know and love them so very much.
Tougher though b/c I feel guilty for working all the time and then leaving them in the evenings once in a while, too. We don't go out that often - maybe once a month - but I still feel guilty sometimes. Thankfully the older two are so excited their teachers are there that they almost push us out the door. Adam still cries sometimes when I leave but he does that routinely. It never gets easier :-(

reanbean said...

Good for you! Our kids didn't have a babysitter until they were 2.5, but now we have a list of 4 sitters we can call upon from time to time, and it feels so good to know we have trustworthy people who will come and look after our kids (we have limited family to help out, and no one available during workday hours). Tiny and Buba always look forward to having the sitters come, and have never once cried (not even the first time when they just met the sitter 30 minutes before I walked out the door). It's nice to know I can take some time to do things on my own without worrying that they are unhappy at home, and I think it's so great that the kids are doing well with some separation from Mommy and Daddy. Seems like a win-win situation to me!