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To think my married friends might cough up for a babysitter occasionally

(168 Posts)
Sheila Mon 11-Feb-13 10:58:38

I am a single parent and have my DS 99% of the time, apart from in the school holidays when he goes away with XP for up to 3 nights.

This means I don't go out much in the evenings and if I do want to go out I generally have to pay a babysitter. I don't begrudge this, although it does mean I don't have much of a social life because money is tight.

What really rankles is that on the rare occasion when DS is away, my married friends never seem willing to get a babysitter themselves if their DHs aren't around.

So the conversation usually goes:

Me; "Hi DF, I've got a night off later this week, do you fancy going out?"
DF: "No sorry I can't - DH is out that night."

So, if I want to see them we have to find a time when they can go out for free and I have to find a babysitter!

I find this annoying and hurtful on so many levels - mainly because I think they must not want to see me that much, but also because I think they are mostly much more able to afford a babysitter than me as they have two incomes coming in.

So AIBU or do I have crap friends?

pookamoo Wed 13-Feb-13 15:50:38


Smudging Wed 13-Feb-13 12:21:15

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

stubbornstains Wed 13-Feb-13 12:02:16


I cannot tell you how jealous I am of single mums whose exes have their kids sometimes. This is not a luxury I enjoy, and one that the OP makes clear that she enjoys very rarely.

pookamoo Tue 12-Feb-13 23:46:26

Sorry, feel a bit stupid for suggesting that, but I am sure there are single mums in the babysitting circle my friends have (not local to me). They just sit on the nights they are free - i.e. when their ex has the children.

Wallison Tue 12-Feb-13 19:38:47

Another good source is colleges that run childcare courses - they often have people training to be nursery nurses who would welcome the experience. I'm ok for babysitters at the mo - have a few reliable trustworthy girls I can call on - but I know that friends have put up notices in the local FE college to get people to help them out.

Pigsmummy Tue 12-Feb-13 18:04:34

If ppl are struggling to find a reliable babysitter look at friends who have a CM or Nanny, asvthey, or their cm/nanny friends (who are fully qualified and CRB checked etc) are mad keen to do a bit of cash in hand babysitting. My lovely babysitter is amazing and after having her care for my baby just two nights I just wish that I could afford her as a nanny.....

comingintomyown Tue 12-Feb-13 17:52:14

Some of the responses like bluemonkeyspots have been very unpleasant

I completely understand how you feel. My friends have been sooo supportive of me in the last 3 years and have included me in family things and lots of weekend slots as well ( I appreciated that remark that you would never get a night out with them on a Saturday) and its made a huge difference to me.

As has been said sadly I think it simply doesnt occur to some people to make an effort to do something they may not 100% want to do for the sake of a friend.

Lots of my socialising pre and post marriage break up involved inviting people over for a glass of wine , I cant see why your DS being up until 10pm makes a difference, that way nobody needs a sitter.

Why not be proactive and get some advance dates in the diary so their DHs are booked to babysit ?

I would say to anyone with a single Mum friend try and give them a little time and support you've no idea how much it would be appreciated smile

Ragwort Tue 12-Feb-13 16:17:43

Wallison - actually babysitting can work for single people in some circumstances, my (single) friend used to have my DS for sleepovers or look after him in the day time at weekends, I agree it is not totally the same as going to someone else's house to look after their children but there are alternatives - or offering to do a friend's ironing in exchange for babysitting. grin. Those sorts of things might work occasionally.

Wallison Tue 12-Feb-13 11:47:30

Oh yes and babysitting circles just do not work for single parents - thank you for pointing that out, stubbornstains. I have also had a few (private, quiet) head-banging moments over the years when people have suggested it. Now I just smile and say "I cannot babysit for other people because I cannot leave my son on his own". And wait for all the little wheels to slowly click into motion. Sometimes, I wait for a while.

Wallison Tue 12-Feb-13 11:36:06

OP, I can see how this niggles at you, but to be honest I view it as being part and parcel of being a lone parent. I am one myself, and it's tough. I also have no family close by and my ex has my son maybe three times a year. So every bit of time when I'm not with my son, I pay for. Whether that be to enable me to go to work or to go out of a evening, I have to pay for someone to look after him. Sometimes I do look wistfully at married friends who bitch about how they have to juggle time and leave etc to make sure they have no childcare costs - would that I had that luxury! But it is how it is. I think you just have to suck it up, tbh.

If I had a husband/partner at home, I would approach things in exactly the same way as your friends do; why go out on a night which necessitates paying for a babysitter, when you can go out on another night which doesn't? It just doesn't make sense for them.

So I'm not saying that you're BU, but I think people who don't know what it's like to have sole responsibility for a child, with no nights off and no-one there to pick up the slack just don't get it and I wouldn't expect them to either.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Tue 12-Feb-13 10:19:25

drjohnsons - I only know one single parent. She gets a lot of support from her family, she moved back to live close to them when her marriage ended.
Her parents babysit for her one night a week so that she can go to an evening class, and they occasionally have her daughter one night at the weekend - and that doesn't include the time that her daughter has with her ex.

Now I know that not all lone parents have that kind of support, or anything remotely approaching it - but it is a case in point that family are often much more willing to rally round and offer babysitting etc where there has been a marriage breakdown.

My parents would do the same if DH and I split up - I would in likelihood move to be closer to them and I know they would help me in this way. There would be no question of that happening as long as DH and I are married, because we look to each other for support first.

megandraper Tue 12-Feb-13 10:09:42

Actually, this thread has made me a bit more aware about LPs and the fact that they need a bit more leeway with social arrangements if they don't have family support.

I only have two LP friends, and they both live too far away for nights out (and they both have other support which allows them nights out without a paid babysitter). But I will be aware for the future.

YouOldSlag Tue 12-Feb-13 09:33:19

Seriously, you don't socialise without your DP/ DHs?

The ONLY way I socialise is without him and vice versa.

Because we haven't got a baby sitter!

drjohnsonscat Mon 11-Feb-13 22:32:13

All the hassles of having a babysitter, not knowing if you can rely on them, etc etc, apply to all parents. I think having this explained to single parents as a reason not to get a babysitter is rubbing salt into the wound! We have the same issues but have to do it anyway!

If I think about it, I suppose I do really appreciate my single friends who will come over to mine for an evening. They seem to get it to be honest. I make a point of telling them how much I appreciate them doing this and that one day I'll be free to come over to them or whatever.

sarahseashell Mon 11-Feb-13 22:30:23

hmm but the point is, single parents often have to pay a babysitter if they want to get out of the house/ attend school functions/whatever - therefore they don't have the choice confused

simplesusan Mon 11-Feb-13 22:25:42

I agree with other posters who say babysitting isn't just about the cost.
Personally when mine were younger I would rather go out when dh was in to babysit.
Paying a sitter seemed a waste of money unless it was for an exceptional occasion. It would also be a lot of hassle for me for various reasons. I am also of the mindset that the hassle it involved was hardly worth going out for. I am a homebody though, can't you tell!

I suppose it depends how reliable your babysitter is. i have always been the primary carer and even now my dm just doesn't seem to have the natural ability/instinct (whatever you call it) to look after my dcs well. I often wonder how the hell she managed with me as I still have to explain the simplest of things to her. Such as what will they eat? What time will they eat? Leaving them when they were very young was not easy for me as she was quite poor at doing basic tasks.

Also the 2 income thing is insulting, ok your friends may have lots of spare cash, but lots of 2 parent families are worse off than single parents.

theoriginalandbestrookie Mon 11-Feb-13 22:19:08

OP we have a monthly quiz night with the Mums from Ds's year and it works really well.

About 12 of us are on the distribution list and we meet at 8 for food and then some come later at 9 for the quiz. Sometimes there have been 3 of us there and very, very occasionally 9. Doesn't matter of some people cancel, which inevitably happens and it's an inexpensive night out.

I'd admit I'd have to be really keen to do something if DH was already out for the night. Yes I agree it sucks that you have to pay for a babysitter when you go out, but its £25 for the evening on top of what you spend which is not an expense that I want to pay and yes I sometimes shop in Waitrose.

At least given the age of your DC it's not an expense you will have to shoulder for much longer.

stubbornstains Mon 11-Feb-13 22:10:52

Well no, the OP can't. Because these babysitting circles work on the premise that you babysit for your friends, and your friends babysit for you. Which is lovely.

Meanwhile, who is looking after your own kids?

<tumbleweed, waiting for the penny to drop>

Seriously, the amount of people who have suggested that to me over the last 3 years.... (bangs head on table).

pookamoo Mon 11-Feb-13 21:51:59

I've never used a sitter. I go out when DH is at home, and he rarely goes out when I am at home. DD1 is 4 and just before DD2 was due, PIL happened to be staying for a weekend (they live 3 hours away) and sent us off to a local pub for a meal. Before that, the last time we went out together was DD1's due date.

Oh I think PIL might have babysat one other time they were staying with us, but I can't remember.

So that's what, twice in 4 years. <shrugs> We just don't have babysitters.

OP, is there any way you could set up a babysitting circle with some of your friends?

drjohnsonscat Mon 11-Feb-13 21:51:22

I know exactly what you mean OP. I am in the same position and it drives me somewhat bonkers. I haven't read the whole thread so don't yet know all the reasons why you and I might be being unreasonable but yes, it is annoying.

I don't particularly want people to do it for my benefit. Why should they? But more because they don't seem to realise I have to do this every time I even want to get a hair cut. Perhaps it's more that it would be nice for some of my friends to appreciate what other people have to put in just to do the simple things they take for granted. I'm very happy being a single parent but do sometimes feel a bit invisible on that front.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Mon 11-Feb-13 21:43:57

Chesty none of my friends go to pubs and clubs. I do know people who do, but they are ex-work colleagues.

Our friends are far flung, so we tend to see people at weekends and often stay over, so socialising is several bottles of wine and a lovely meal once the kids are tucked up in bed. No need for babysitters.

DH and I do go out independently, but we would always try and organise it so that one of us was going to be in to look after the DCs. Ours are very young though, and getting them to the point of readiness for bed that we can leave them and simultaneously getting ready to go out is not entirely straightforward.

When we go out together we use an agency to get a sitter, at around £30-35 a pop.

foslady Mon 11-Feb-13 21:01:02

Know EXACTLY where you're coming from Sheila. I refer to it (to myself, not to anyone else) as my single night out tax. The worst ones are when I'm invited to go to a party plan night at one of their houses......I think I've managed to get through to them if it's not on a night that dd's at her dads to forget it, I've used my spare cash on a sitter and can't afford another £30 for some piece of bakeware to block up the cupboard (if we were on a night out it would be approx £10-15 on wine/pub food). I can see where they're coming from, but like has been said further up, once I leave work I leave adult company, and come bedtime the only contact with the outside world in MN & fb, nights out are precious

IfNotNowThenWhen Mon 11-Feb-13 20:55:10

No, YouOlSlag, it's called wanting to leave the house occasionally.

ChestyLeRoux Mon 11-Feb-13 20:50:37

This is like a parallel universe to me.Most mums I know are out at pubs and clubs very frequently.Married mums and single mums together.

stubbornstains Mon 11-Feb-13 20:42:10

I completely sympathise with you OP. Sometimes arranging an evening out as a single parent feels like climbing Everest, and it makes you feel really stabby when your friends aren't willing to make half the effort (and many of my friends are single mums- they just have kids old enough to leave, or their exes have the kids some of the time).

The insularity of some coupled-up people stuns me. Seriously, you don't socialise without your DP/ DHs? In fact, since I've got a boyfriend, I've become the victim of people assuming I'm like that- "oh, we didn't think to ask you because we thought you'd be doing something with your boyfriend". FFS.

I guess I am slowly and surely combating the problem- by making different friends smile.

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