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Miriam Hendeles/Bubby JOys and oys

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Bubby’s Babysitting Styles and Venues

My husband and I love taking the grandkids to ballgames once or twice a year. On some occasions we take them out to pizza, to bowling and other outings. These excursions are a form of babysitting, so the parents can have a little break. When one of our couples had a baby, they left the toddler with us while Mommy and Daddy went to the hospital. I still remember the special suitcase I bought him for the occasion.

Since I became a grandmother eleven years ago, I’ve carved my own style of grandmothering into my life, a version that generally works.  I’m not necessarily the “sit on the floor and play blocks with the kids” all the time, and I’m not sure they love everything I do or don’t do, but hey, we all do our best. We keep the lines of communication open, and try to learn from the mistakes we inevitably make.

But, regarding babysitting, I think I’ve got it down pat.

From the beginning, I had an agreement with our married couples that they can ask us to babysit whenever they needed, and we will either say yes or no. They know that we love when they bring the kids over to our house, and we love having them.  Usually, advance notice is best, but there have been times we watched the kids more spontaneously.

When one of our couples and their kids lived in our house temporarily for a long stretch of time—while the couple was saving up for their own place—they didn’t depend on my husband and me all the time; most times they got their own babysitter.  But there were many times that they left the kids with us if we were able to babysit.

More recently, their kids have grown up past the infant and toddler stage and they have their own schedules. The babies can’t be up too late and bringing them to Grandma’s house is not always practical.  The older kids have homework, schedules, bedtimes, and camping out in Grandma’s house for a few hours messes their schedules up. That means they have to wake up the children when they come pick them up and get them home and asleep rather late.

Enter Bubby babysitting at their home. The other day, one of our couples called me and asked if I’d be willing to babysit at their house one night this week. I said yes, and we scheduled the day and time.

I brought along my laptops, work, papers and stuff to do. I have the Amazon Prime and Netflix apps for the occasional binge watching. The baby was sleeping, and it worked out really well. I came home very late because they live about ten miles away, but I felt that this was the best way to help them. I was helping them in a way that worked for them. It was win-win, because to me it was like an outing. And I even accomplished the work I’d planned to do (never got to the movie apps though!)

Our other couple heard about the out-of-town babysitting experience, and they also agreed to have me come to their house the next time they go out for the evening. We went a few days after that, brought along the work and ended up just sleeping on the couch while the kids took care of themselves and even put themselves to sleep. I think I was so amazed at how little there was for us to do that I just froze and didn’t end up accomplishing any of the work that I brought along.

All of this shows me that life has stages and even the stages have micro-stages. While we moved on from the stage of babysitting on our turf to watching the little ones on theirs, we still have the same goal in life – to help make our children’s lives just a little less stressful.

And if in that time, we’re enjoying our nachas (kids putting themselves to sleep? That’s something to kvell about…), getting some paperwork done, and coming home to a clean house, then for me that’s win-win!

 
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Miriam Hendeles, MT-BC

is a board certified music therapist who currently works with hospice patients and has worked in the past with children and adults with developmental disabilities. Miriam earned her Bachelor's  and Master's degrees and music therapy credential at CSU, Northridge. She is the author of Mazel Tov It's a Bubby!: The Joys and Oys of Being a Mother, Mother-in-law...and Grandmother (Israel Bookshop Pub, 2012). Miriam is a regular writer for Binah Magazine, and has been published in Yated Ne'eman, Hamodia, and Ami Magazine.  Her blog, bubbyjoysandoys.com , is an exploration of the wonder of navigating relationships with adult children and grandchildren.