As that rare date night approaches, my husband and I usually find ourselves nervously looking out the front window, or checking my phone for texts. Is she really going to make it? We wonder. And on time?
Because a good babysitter is hard to find. One that will have a Friday or Saturday night free in the first place. One that won't call or text - last minute - to say she's sick, can't make it, is still waiting for the Fullerton bus and won't be there for at least another half hour. One experienced enough to handle a baby and keep an older kid in check. Then if he or she does come, I find myself kissing the kids goodbye and hoping, just hoping, that they won't burn down the home while we're out. And then, while we're out, I'm stuck checking my cell phone for missed calls and answering texts with such statements as, "Yes, 6 ounces of formula" or "No, he does have a bedtime, 9pm," and hoping that they're not watching another movie like Snakes on A Plane like he did once with one particular babysitter, which he may or may not brag to you about, especially his favorite scene, the snake crawling on a woman's large breasts. Sigh.
So it was a Godsend that I was asked to test out a new babysitting service that is expanding from New York into Chicago: Sitters Studio. Not only is there a slew of babysitters on hand, so that there is no worry of last minute cancellations, but you can pick the babysitter that best matches your children's ages, activity levels and interests. All sitters are artists-in-training by profession (a.k.a. in local art colleges) have childcare experience and have undergone a rigorous qualification process, and some sitters even specialize in multiples and early infant care. Best of all, each sitter arrives with a tote full of artistic toys and craft supplies. Our sitter, Christine, came equipped with materials to make masks and insects out of pom poms and googly eyes. She put the baby to bed at 7 and then spent the entire evening engaging, artistically, with 9 year old Fratellone. Afterwards, they played board games. Fratellone told me that this was his best babysitter ever. Christine provided us with the standard "Sitter Scoop" - a half page note letting us know what the kids ate, what time they went to bed, and what they did.
Though the cost of Studio Sitters is a few bucks more than what we pay our usual sitters - it was money well spent. I felt reassured leaving the kids in Christine's hands, and was better able to enjoy date night with my husband. And isn't that the goal of date nights? To enjoy each other's company without worrying that your kids are running rampant in the alley, listening to the sitter talk to her boyfriend all night on her i-phone, or coming across new and very interesting websites on the Internet or coloring his bedroom walls with Sharpies while said sitter is chatting on the phone? Instead, when we came home, the kids were all right, and in bed, the house was picked up and there were cute crafts assembled by Fratellone on our kitchen table.
For our date, we had a delicious Ethiopian dinner a Demera, in Uptown, and then topped the evening off cozied up in a booth, listening to jazz, at the Green Mill. With our recent move and all the other stressors of life, I can't help but to think that it's simply necessary to take a step away, at least once a week, to indulge in each other without the usual interruptions of daily life, to enjoy this great city of ours, together.
Studio Sitters can be booked at 312.890.8194 or online via email at email@example.com
Amy Bizzarri is a mom of two living in Logan Square. She also blogs at tiramisumom.com.
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