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5 Things About Parents I Used to Judge as a Babysitter

Photograph by Twenty20

Babysitting is a lot different than parenting. This is an obvious and universal truth to everyone except babysitters. I know because I used to babysit and I thought I knew everything about kids.

I often think back on those days with those snot-welding toddlers with fondness. I got paid. There were snacks. The parents always came home and relieved me of my duties. I'm not so lucky now. No one pays me or buys me my favorite snacks. No one ever relieves me of my duties, except for the babysitter, bless her.

But at the time, there were so many things about parenting that frustrated me and I didn't understand why parents didn't well, parent. Now, I know. And I'd like to issue a formal apology to all the parents I babysat for and judged.

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1. Why don't your child's shoes match their outfit and/or the season?

This is one battle I choose not to fight.

Is it so hard to put the appropriate shoes on your child for the weather? Why let them wear sneakers with a fancy Easter dress? Why is your son wearing scuffed up sneakers with his nice pants? Will no one parent?

I understood with full clarity why this happens the day my daughter turned 2 and staunchly refused to let me dress her. Now she traipses around with sparkle shoes and athletic shorts or tutus, polos and flip flops. I don't fight her because I'm not an idiot. I hear screaming and whining on a regular basis over the fact that a drop of water touched her shirt. So, this is one battle I choose not to fight.

2. Why are the toys so disorganized?

When I think about how much time I spent reorganizing the toys in the toy rooms of the people I used to babysit for, I want to cry. I would dump out baskets and quickly work out a system for the cars, toys and small plastic figures. It's so easy. I would think to myself. Why is it always a mess when I come back? How hard is it to just put things back where they go?

You want to know how hard? It's like nuclear physics. That's how hard. No, really. It still kills me when I see cars in the block basket or a train in the play food basket, but apparently the three other people in the house don't care as much about order as I do. And that is three other people who use toys a lot more than I do. Also, if the toys are put away messily, that means I didn't clean them up, which means I didn't spend time cleaning up, which hopefully means I had a beer. So, who cares?

3. Why is the parent's room so messy?

We actually used to have really nice sheets, until my infant daughter pooped on them.

Because all we do is sleep in there and we barely even do that after being up and down all night. Plus, let's discuss how expensive nice curtains, sheets and window treatments are. After shilling out for a nursery and seeing how often babies spit up in your bed, it makes you less inclined to buy those 2,000 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets. We actually used to have really nice sheets, until my infant daughter pooped on them. It's just so much harder to put money into a space where you'd like to spend more time, but you physically can't. It would be like buying a fancy vacation home, only going there once every three years. Not worth it.

4. Macaroni and cheese again?

Oh, how the babysitting version of myself judged box macaroni and cheese. Why did every parent serve it to their children like it was a pot of liquid gold? Why did they think I'd be excited about it, too?

Here is why: Because that's all kids want. I don't know what's in that powered cheese. Some sort of toddler cocaine? Baby pot? Whatever it is, kids love it and my picky eaters beg for it constantly. So, sorry babysitter, but I'm honestly doing you a favor here.

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5. Why don't the parents go out more?

When I am a parent I won't let my children prevent me from having a good time.

Excuse me while I laugh then sob hysterically at the memory of my babysitting self.

Look, babysitting Lyz, going out costs money! A lot of money. The babysitter. The food. Then there is the fact that just getting out the door takes so much effort—from the planning, to the execution, the incessant whining from the children. Just the thought of going out makes me feel exhausted and poor. Let's stay in tonight.

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