So you need a babysitter. Maybe the babies came home yesterday, or maybe, like me, it’s been five and a half months and you’ve only ever left them once when your mother was in town. However long this day has been in arriving, the time has come. Sometimes, living in Brooklyn, things can be somewhat complicated. Here is a step-by-step guide to getting yourself out of the house. Or at least, this is how it worked for me:
Step 1: Ask other local parents for babysitter recommendations. Here is what they will say: “There’s a website called Sittercity, I heard.” “Oh my mother always babysits for us.” “I had a friend who is under-employed. We asked her to babysit once.” “My sister helps us.” “Sittercity.” “I heard Sittercity.” Turns out most people in Brooklyn either hire full-time or part-time nannies, or else they have family nearby. Unlucky you.
Step 2: Post to your local twins list serv. “Looking for an occasional babysitter for date nights and keeping sane!” Get no response. Finally get one response: “Try Sittercity.”
Step 3: Post again on another list serv. Get the names of three sitters.
Step 4: Call the sitters. Two are elderly ladies from Trinidad who have been babysitting for upwards of twenty years. They are professional babysitters, because, as D says, “In New York everyone is a career everything. That’s why we have to get out of here.” The third babysitter is a bouncy, high-voiced twenty-something aspiring actor who makes you feel ancient.
Step 5: Meet the sitters. Hand them your babies. Try to judge based on how they hold them whether they love your babies as much as you do. They will inevitably fail this test. Make conversation anyway. Look deep into their eyes and try to judge their deepest character.
Step 6: After they leave, call the references. Ask intelligent questions like, “So…she likes babies, do you think?” and “Um, is she responsible?” Get laughed at by incredulous, wealthy Park Slope twin moms who have had multiple baby nurses night and day from day 1. “Wait, they’re FIVE MONTHS OLD and you’re only hiring help NOW?!?! OH MY GOD. Wow. Wow.” And in response to your questions: “Yes she’s fine. We had a nannycam and watched her for the first month.” Also, “Yeah, she’s great. She’s a real sister-sister. We used her for three years.” Feel very uncomfortable with the whole conversation.
Step 7: Call the babysitter you think seems most okay. Bite the bullet: “I’d love if you could babysit next Wednesday.” “I’m sorry,” she says. “There are too many steps up to your apartment. Let me know if you want my daughter to babysit instead.” Back to square one…
Step 8: Call a local organization, the member-owned, progressive Beyond Care Babysitting Coop. Confirm a sitter for Wednesday.
Step 9: Have nightmares about babies starving, about milk rotting in the fridge, about your milk production drying up, about people who seem okay but are actually evil.
Step 10: The day of. The doorbell rings. Here is a woman at your door. She is short and round. She is kind. She is experienced and extensively trained, probably more qualified to care for babies than you are. She gets down on the floor with the babies and patiently listens to you tell her how to change a diaper, how to warm milk in a bottle.
Step 11: Walk out the door. Everything is fine. It is normal to be nervous. You can do it. And, you are a good mother.