babysitters

I Hired a Babysitter Just So I Could Go Grocery Shopping Alone

Mature smiling woman shopping in local supermarket. She is shopping groceries. Standing by produce stand and reading nutrition label on dairy product. Choosing cheese.

One of the hardest things about being a mom who works from home is the glaring lack of opportunity to do things yourself during the day. Case in point: When I had a doctor’s appointment last month and couldn’t find anyone to watch my twin 2-year-old daughters, I had no choice but to drag them along with me and take turns holding them on my lap while my doctor went about her business.

It’s this very arrangement that’s made me long for the era of going grocery shopping myself. Don’t get me wrong–I love my children dearly, and I love seeing the excitement on their faces as we roam the aisles stocking up on various food items. (Clearly, it doesn’t take much to make my kids happy–a fact I’m eternally grateful for.)

But shopping with little kids has its challenges–like when your twins fight over which one gets to sit in the actual shopping cart versus the seat, or grab things off the shelves when you make the mistake of getting too close, or insist on holding the various items you’re attempting to buy, even if said items aren’t child-friendly because they’re of the metal can or glass variety.

And then there’s the awareness factor that trips me up every time. Because my daughters are now 2-and-change, they recognize things, like cookies, and aren’t afraid to scream their heads off to get me to buy them. And because I’m the type who doesn’t like to cause a scene in public (especially since carting twins around town turns me into a walking spectacle off the bat), I typically feel compelled to give in. (Incidentally, over the past several months, I’ve not only exceeded my grocery budget, but added unnecessary padding to my waistline as a result.)

In fact, at one point, going grocery shopping with my daughter became such a stressful endeavor that I decided to put an end to the madness. And so I did something I never thought I’d do—I hired a babysitter so I could go grocery shopping alone.

Now in full disclosure, this is a sitter I use for other purposes, like when I’m working from home and actually need to be working, not chasing after a pair of rambunctious 2-year-olds. But this time, work wasn’t part of the agenda. Rather, I spent $15 an hour for the privilege of being able to walk through the supermarket aisles in peace, pick out the things I needed (and only the things I needed), and get through the process with my sanity fully intact.

Of course, had I not been paying for this luxury, I perhaps would’ve dawdled a bit in the bakery aisle, or taken my time exploring the ice cream selection more thoroughly. (And I wonder where my girls get their cookie obsession from…) But because this brief moment of freedom was costing me a pretty penny, I made certain to be as quick and efficient as possible.

Still, it felt good. Really, really good.

As I made my way back home from the store, I was fully expecting some sort of retroactive guilt to set in. After all, I’d just paid someone so I could go grocery shopping. Not to a doctor’s appointment, but grocery shopping.

But then I realized—even though I’m a mom, I’m still a person, and that means I’m entitled to the occasional break. And if the only way to get that break right now is to buy it, so be it.

Will I be paying a sitter on a regular basis so I can do my food shopping? Certainly not. But am I okay with the fact that I tried it once, and will probably treat myself to a repeat kid-free errand outing on occasion? Absolutely.

If hiring a sitter is what it takes to make me feel like a functional human again, it’s well worth the sporadic splurge. And this way, the next time I hit the supermarket solo, I’ll be buying those cookies because I want them—which, knowing me, I probably will.

The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. Comments are moderated, so use your inside voices, keep your hands to yourself, and no, we're not interested in herbal supplements.

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