5 Ways Being a Mom Is Like Being a Babysitter (& 5 Ways It Isn't)

babysitting versus parenthoodWhen I was a teenager, I was THE go-to babysitter in my neighborhood. Every Friday night, many Saturday nights and weekdays, you would find me with the neighborhood kids, cooking grilled cheese, steaming broccoli, and playing in the backyard. I loved them. But it was also a lot of work. 

Bedtime was a chore, the kids rarely listened, and I missed a lot of killer parties because I accidentally double-booked myself, and my parents insisted on me honoring my work commitments. At the time, I would have said I was never having children because, yeah. They were hard.

Back then people always said, "When you have your own kids, it will be soooo different." Now, 20 years later, I DO have my own kids. And it IS different in many ways. Obviously. But, surprisingly, in a lot of ways, it also isn't. So here are five ways parenthood is just like babysitting ... and five ways it isn't. See below:


Five Ways It IS Like Babysitting:

  • The food: When I babysat, I was the queen of digging through cabinets, looking for old, disheveled chocolate bars left over from a s'mores making session last June (in February). I ate and ate and ate. Pretty much like today. I still totally eat all the food in the cabinet while waiting for the man of the house to come home.
  • The clock watching: When my husband says he will be home at 6, 6:01 is TOO LATE. I start texting him at 5:59. Are you in the driveway yet? How about now? OK, now??
  • Bedtime: It's not easy to put other people's kids down to bed. But guess what?! It's not easy to put your own down either. And no matter what, you STILL feel that same desire to stay up late.
  • You just want to make out: Yep. That whole teenage, HOW much longer do I have to be here before I can make out with my boyfriend (um, husband). Yep. That is still totally there.
  • The fun: Sometimes, even when you are the mommy, you can forget and lose yourself in a living room dance party or a game of dress-up or even a Barbie game. Suddenly you are 5 again, and yep. It's just as fun as it was at 15.

Five Ways It's Most Definitely Not:

  • I can't give them back: Duh. This is the big one. But seriously. When you are 15, 10 rounds of Uno is fun because you know you get to go home and veg in front of the TV as soon as mom and dad come home.
  • There is no money involved: Totally unfair because moms SHOULD get some compensation for their hard work. But we don't. Unless you count kisses, which, come to think of it, I kind of do.
  • The kids liked me better: The babysitter is totally cool, right? Mom? Not so much. I swear my kids still listen to our sitters better than they listen to me. Mom just has no cool clout.
  • I have to care: So if MY kids have only chocolate for dinner with some fruit snacks for dessert, I have to feel bad. Boo. When I was a sitter, I didn't have to care. I could totally curry favor with my charges by being "cool" and making them pancakes or candy. My own kids? Not so much.
  • Guilt: As a babysitter, there is no guilt. The kid eats plaster of Paris (oh yes, this happened to me), so what? The kid sticks play dough in his nose? Oh well. Now? It all counts. I am on the hook, yo. It's not nearly as much fun.

Sigh. Can I go back to babysitting?

Do you ever compare babysitting to parenthood? Which is better?

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