Toy Day is Over

On the surface, “Toy Day” sounds like a sweet concept. Twice a week, the kids get to bring a toy from home to share with their class. No weapons, no monstrosities (I had to veto a pop-up Thomas the Train playhouse this morning). Other than that, the rules are pretty open.

G, for his part, has created an additional rule: You must never (ever!) bring the same toy twice. Can you imagine the snickering? The disgusted looks? The whispering of, “Didn’t he bring that Backyardigans guitar last week?!”

As my son gets older, status has become more of an issue amongst his peers. And Toy Day has become THE DAY to improve that status. I mean, what is cooler than being the kid who brought The. Best. Toy. – am I right?

Every Toy Day morning is stressful, as G calculatingly hunts down the perfect item, the one that will set him apart from the heard. Usually, this process takes about 10 minutes, but it can take up to 30 minutes. Today, however, it took an HOUR.

It didn’t help that I was already about an hour late to work to begin with and not in any mood to double that. No amount of prodding, cajoling, suggesting, or threatening would speed this process up. In fact, it seemed to spitefully slow him down. I was desperate, so I enlisted the Ex to help. Nothing. Finally, I got the now angry preschooler into the car by promising him that there was bound to be something really awesome buried under the mess in the backseat. When we were loaded into the car, it was quickly discovered that all that lay buried under the mess was more mess.

G was not pleased. “You are going in the garbage can,” he informed me.

He proceeded to pout and inform me of other places I could expect to go during the ride to school. He did this as we walked to his class (read: his teacher and I dragged him), and as he waved (still pouting) as I rushed off.

This has led me to the conclusion that Toy Day is a very bad idea. I might talk to his teacher about canceling it altogether; however, I’d make her sign a non-disclosure first, forbidding her from ever letting G know that I was the evil mastermind behind it. If not, I don’t think I’d ever get out of that can.

Free Babysitting is Better than Paid Babysitting

In my quest to understand how Americans consume babysitting, what affects their consumption, and how that consumption is changing, I’ve created a survey that gets at many of the questions parents want to know. If you are a parent and would like to contribute your experiences, Click here to take survey.

While the full survey results will not be released for a few more weeks, there is an interesting piece of information emerging: parents are almost twice as satisfied with the quality of the free babysitting they receive as they are with the paid babysitting. Two-thirds of parents surveyed (67%) said they were “Extremely satisfied” with the quality of free babysitting, compared to just over one-third (38%) who said the same about paid babysitters.

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With almost every other product or service we consume, the opposite tends to be true – we pay a price in order to get better quality. But with babysitting, the free ones – the friends, the family members, etc. – provide the best care. Maybe it’s because they know and love your kids, maybe it’s because they are parents themselves, or maybe it’s because they’re friends of yours whom you trust. So, if free babysitters are so much better than paid sitters, the question remains: why aren’t more people using free babysitters? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic!

Joining a Babysitting Co-Op!

Yes, that’s right – the Ex, G, and I are now members of a babysitting co-op. Sure, I haven’t sat for anyone else yet, and okay, no one has sat for me yet, either, but… I am SO excited. No more pricey babysitters! Hooray! The first co-op meeting is on Tuesday and I will have the chance to meet other parents in our neighborhood babysitting co-op. After that, I can start sitting.

I’m excited for many reasons:

1. We’ll save money. Instead of $50 for a sitter on a night out, we’ll pay $0. Not too shabby.

2. Our son will be cared for by parents we know and trust. Why pay for a teenage sitter when we can have experienced parents watch our child?

3. It’s fun for our son. He gets to play with other kids while in the care of another parent. Win-win.

4. We meet other parents in the community. A babysitting co-op is a nice way to become integrated into the community and meet others nearby with similarly aged children.

On a semi-related note: the Ex and I saw our regular babysitter while taking a walk last week. As we haven’t used her in a while, she was playing an avoidance game. So awkward. I kept waiting, trying to make eye contact with her, but to no avail. Finally, the Ex prodded me away, before I could accost her.

Starting a Babysitting Co-Op

(Visit Sitting Around for more info: www.sittingaround.com)

The price of babysitting is staggering. When I babysat as a teen (barely a decade ago), I remember earning $4 per hour – sometimes $5 if the family was feeling generous. When I first started searching for a sitter for my son just a few years ago, I made the mistake of asking prospective sitters what their rates were.

“I don’t sit for less than $15 an hour,” a high school sophomore informed me. $15 an hour? For sitting on my couch while my baby slept, eating my food and watching my cable TV?

Finally, I found a reasonable grad student who was okay babysitting Gavin for $10 an hour – the max I felt comfortable paying. While she is great with him, the knowledge that dinner and a movie costs me an extra $60 or so when babysitting is included prevents me from having very many nights out.

Recently, I found myself griping to yet another mother about the prohibitive cost of hiring a babysitter. Her response? “You should join a babysitting co-op.” I had never heard of babysitting co-ops before, but once she explained the concept to me, I couldn’t believe I had spent so long without one.

A babysitting co-op is a group of parents in a community that trade babysitting services with one another. Rather than paying each other in money, co-op members pay each other in points. You earn points by watching your friends’ kids and – when you need a sitter – they earn points by watching yours. The idea of exchanging babysitting services with people you know and trust (and for free!) is beyond appealing to me.

I have just begun researching potential babysitting co-ops in my area, and no leads so far. If I can’t find a co-op in my area, I’m determined to start one myself. Though, I have to say, creating a co-op and managing it myself sounds like a good deal of work…

Woman, 33, Gives Birth to Octuplets

People are f-ing crazy.

A 33-year old American woman named Nadya Suleman just had a set of octuplets, bringing her total number of children to fourteen. Fourteen! Holy hell. And, the oldest of the children is seven. She has fourteen children under the age of eight.

Just reading this story online yesterday made me want to lie down and take a nap. How does one parent fourteen small children? Suleman is not married and is on welfare – all fourteen of her children were conceived via in vitro fertilization (IVF). While I am all for women raising children on their own if they so desire, I think it is highly irresponsible to purposely impregnate oneself that frequently. And, to rub salt into this wound, the woman receives public assistance. Tax payers are supporting Suleman’s little hobby. Suleman’s mother explains that her daughter is “obsessed with children.”

So unbelievably irresponsible. No one knows how Suleman was able to convince a doctor to implant eight embryos at once, especially in a woman under 35 with six other children. The father of all fourteen kids is reportedly a neighbor of Suleman’s who had donated his sperm. However, this neighbor recently married, according to the Telegraph, and asked Suleman to stop using his sperm to conceive children. Clearly, she did not comply with his wishes.

I hope someone examines Suleman’s mental health and evaluates her ability to care for that many kids. So sad.

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