Before I had kids, I (reluctantly) admit that I sometimes gave a side-eye to parents who shirked every event. How hard is it really to get a sitter? Two kids and thousands of miles away from my family later, I’m eating crow. I’ve gone through more sitters than some people go through jeans in a similar time frame. How naive I was back then, and how easy it was for me to judge when I was kid-free. I’m cringing just thinking about it.
I’ve been in the Phoenix Metro area for more than three years, and finding childcare sometimes seems just as hard as it did when I first moved here. Here’s a brief synopsis of what I’ve been dealing with.
- Had a great part-time sitter – – she got a full-time job.
- A friend-of-a-friend’s daughter would babysit when I used to work nights – – she went back to school.
- Got a great nanny, who we loved so much, and I hope she is reading this – – she moved to Israel (yes, really).
- This is getting long, so I’ll edit what’s happened to the rest of the sitters: pregnant, too expensive (sitting service), in school during the day (plus, she’s a friend’s backup sitter and they already told me not to overuse her), so forth, and so on. Not to mention that while many of my sorority sisters wouldn’t hesitate to babysit, we are nearly always going to the same events, so they are unavailable.
So no, it hasn’t been the easiest road. But I’m not one to give up. So I’ve found a few places that let you get in a date night (or a spa day!), even when you don’t have a sitter.
Join a Gym
I’m serious! We all need to be getting our workout on, anyway, but if you find the right gym, you have an extra childcare spot. We’re members of Mountainside Fitness, which offers Parent’s Night Out at many of their locations each month. Some locations even have daytime activities where you can drop off the kiddos (can you say mani/pedi?). And before we moved away from a close location, we also used the YMCA, which offers Parent’s Night Out, too. Perfect date night solution! Check into what your gym offers; you may be missing out on some amenities. Note: Mountainside does charge a fee for its programs.
Go Grocery Shopping
Alright, now you’re probably really thinking I’m crazy. But think back to the last time you went shopping with the littles. The impromptu dancing, the loud requests for snacks, the refrain of “I’m hungryyyyyy,” which prompts you to get a sample of honey ham so the kids will settle down (and then also buy said honey ham because you feel guilty tasting and not buying). Oh, is that just me? Anyway, some local grocery stores actually offer childcare services so you can drop the kids off to color and play while you shop in peace. But PLEASE, if you have kiddos and you have a Kid’s Korner or other childcare option in your store, be sure to use it. Ours was recently closed because it didn’t get enough use.
What’s the last movie you saw in a theater? (Crossing my fingers that it was from at least 2015.) Harkins Theaters is my family’s new date night fave because if we want to see something non-kid-friendly (or just want to to get through an entire movie without making a bathroom run), several locations have Play Centers where you can drop the kiddos and enjoy a kid-free movie. Note: Make a reservation in advance! Spots fill up.
Swap With Another Family
This one is hard because it takes commitment. But if I can do it, so can you. It’s exactly what it sounds like: find a family with kids of similar age and do a date night swap. The beauty of this is that you’re not limited by the time constraints of a structured program. I say kids of similar age because that makes it easy. Go to the park, let the kids play a few games, then watch a movie, and boom, it’s bed time. Just make sure you set up rules ahead of time. You don’t want to always get home promptly at 10 p.m. when they let their kids stay through breakfast the next morning (which is also an option, depending on how close you are with the family).
So seriously, what are you waiting for? Get out there and get in a date night or some alone time. You’ve earned it!