Freelancing And The Babysitter Pool

What they say about the best laid plans often going awry is true. I had thought that this summer will be taking it easy, making the most of mommy and Evan time before he goes to kindergarten and when school starts then I will slowly go job hunting while working on my project. No such thing happened.

I usually tell the babysitters that Evan is pretty laid back. My 5 year old spends most of his time reading (shown here reading a chapter book with his eyes 2 weeks ago), plays with legos and watch 40 minutes of cartoons from Netflix. The most difficult part is him eating too slow.

On April when the supervisor at the library I was volunteering in asked me if I was interested in applying as a digital media instructor for the summer, I started burning the candles on an online computer graphics tutorial site in preparation for the interview. Even when I got the job and was vacationing in Wisconsin before the summer classes, I spent many hours behind the laptop prepping up.

It was fortunate that Evan’s babysitter, his former assistant teacher at pre-school, was available to pick him up from camp and watch him until Tom got home on the days I was working. When she wasn’t, there was always my filipina friend and neighbor, with whom whose daughter I babysat, who would do it instead. And on July when the assistant teacher couldn’t, Evan’s cousin has gotten back from her European vacation and in between her law studies was all too happy to be around her youngest cousin while earning a little money.

One would think that with these 3 people on my list I wouldn’t have babysitting worries. But one Monday in August I did. At the last minutes the assistant teacher had back injury, my filipina friend was vacationing in California and Evan’s cousin had another part-time job that day. It was a stressful weekend for me. In the end, Tom took a rare half-day off to pick up Evan and stay with him that Monday. But I learned my lesson, I knew I had to have a deep babysitting pool to avoid this problem in the future.

I dug up the email from a neighbor who gave me the contact numbers of babysitters she has used and was happy with. Turned out 2 of them couldn’t do it, one has a full schedule, the other is connected with an agency and her schedule largely depends on them. I was little hesitant asking the high school student neighbor but she turned out to be quite a professional taking Evan out to the park, involving him with making drawings and coloring. Evan’s favorites were the two camp counselors (also high school students) I asked. I guess it’s because they were already familiar to him, played with him at camp and would play legos with him at home.

Last August, people from my old company has started calling me about freelancing for a few days which I gladly did. During this time of recession never did I thought that job offers, albeit short term, would come knocking at my door. With that done just when I thought I would be able to spend Evan’s first week of school just concentrating on him during this transition the library extended my teaching stint for 6 more sessions and my old company asked me if I could work starting Wednesday until the third week of September. Which meant a babysitter is needed to pick up Evan from school until either Tom and I get home. But this arrangement I wouldn’t be able to use high school students because they would get off from school about the same time and be late in picking Evan up.

Fortunately, I had another person on the list courtesy of my neighbor, a graduate student from Northwestern who I learned yesterday was taking up Cognitive Neuroscience (what a hi-tech babysitter!). She came over last night to watch Evan while Tom and I went out for his birthday celebration (an outdoor Tony Bennett concert) and she was a very sweet girl who Evan was very excited to be with. She seemed very responsible and I hope I will have no problem with our arrangement until the 3rd week of next month.

But she already told me that on the 18th she will be going for a vacation to California so I will be bugging my neighbor for another recommendation or hope that Evan’s assistant teacher will be available by then if I have more freelancing jobs comes up. There is also this tricky situation after-school when Evan needs to go to his karate class. Since the babysitter doesn’t have a car I might ask my filipina neighbor to drop Evan off at his karate school and the babysitter will just wait for him there.

All in all it has been a rewarding experience, it feels good to be back working, earning money while knowing that Evan is happy and safe with people that has been highly recommended, that we know and that I haven’t resorted to using the internet to finding babysitters to watch him. The thing I like about freelancing especially during this transition period is that I can look forward to spending some days off not just the weekends. After all, I haven’t been working regular hours 5 days a week, 5 years ago since Evan was born. It takes some adjusting to. Especially since I also still have this big personal project to work on. I like the idea of being able to continue to volunteer in different establishments to meet new people, have new contacts, have different job experiences which I can’t do if I am working full-time. The big downside is we can’t avail of the before and after school care because we are not sure when are the days I will be working or not.

Still, Tom has been voicing out the possibility of retiring from work or just working part-time since last year and if he does it will take a load off worries on the babysitter business. Plus I think it would be wonderful for Evan to spend more time with his dad while I can concentrate on going back to the workforce whether it be freelancing, full-time, part-time or my own project.

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5 Responses to Freelancing And The Babysitter Pool

  1. Ed says:

    Reading this post made my recent post on the same subject seem like child’s play. Back in the day, it was much easier because it was just expected that one parent would stay home until the kids were grown. But like I mentioned, now both parents can have a dream and live it and the headaches of dealing with daycare is one of the prices we pay for that. I’m with Tom, I’ve been thinking of retiring and staying home but I think for that to happen, we need at least one more child to make it worth it.

  2. geri says:

    Ed, I thought yours was more complicated because it involved you constantly spending time driving her to and from places, and at times getting off your work. My problem lies more on having a lot of people involved in the babysitting. I do wish to simplify it, but as long as I am freelancing and Tom doesn’t retire I think it would be safest for me to keep 2-3 people in the pool just to be constantly in contact with them and in case their schedule is in conflict with mine. If Evan’s last daycare provider didn’t die, I would most probably left him in her care – but still wouldn’t work during schooldays…

    Since Tom is much older he is in a more position to retire so I am not making it a condition for us to add another child before he does, hehe, but I do see where you are coming from.

    Lately, I have been thinking of the possibility of homeschooling Evan… as I was telling Tom tonight, just when I am starting to enjoy the company of my child more – off he goes to 6.5 hours of kindergarten. Sigh.

  3. Loraine says:

    I can feel your stress Geri. It is dfficult. My job is stressful and all too consuming but I just could not look for another job since our life and my husband’s sched are set up around my job schedule. Anyhow, I feel trapped and as I thought about it, it will take me years to really be free again in taking a job that will not hurt our current life set up….

  4. Loraine says:

    Hi Geri again, At least you have an option of Tom retiring. In regards to Ed’s comment, we also talked about 1 parent staying home at all times but we need 1 ore baby to be worth it too.

  5. geri says:

    Loraine, Tom feels the same way as you so I can empathize in a way, I can imagine how difficult it must be to feel trapped in a job that is stressful. It’s small consolation but a least you are earning good money right? I sometimes think of people, especially nowadays who works just as hard, just as stressed yet are barely scraping by. I am not trying to minimize the quandary you are in but just trying to see how lucky you are still compared to others. I tell my husband this too but since he now has an option I will be the last person to discourage him from retiring and pursuing another career that is more in line to his dreams.

    Did I read it right? You are considering another child? Good for you – who knows, the next one won’t take as long as Benj =)

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