This summer, my kids are 6 and 9. As the end of school loomed and I had to make decisions about what to do for work this summer, I toyed with the idea I might not hire a babysitter. I thought our babysitter from last summer was unavailable, and rather than trying to find someone new and break them in, I thought we might just go without. After all, I only have the babysitter a couple of days a week anyway. And my kids are getting old enough to entertain themselves (in a perfect world). I almost had myself talked into it.

Then my babysitter called. She wanted to turn babysitting into her “summer job” and was trying to line up a few people, so most of her days would be full. I quickly jumped on her offer and we set a date. I didn’t even give it a second thought. Turns out I do need a babysitter to get work done. Real work, that is. Here are a few reasons why:

1. TV.
I like to think my kids can entertain themselves. And they can. Unless I have an important phone call to make, or need some extended time to concentrate on writing, or even just sit in the office and answer emails. It never fails, the kids that were playing quietly together just a few minutes before are now fighting, coming to me tattling on each other, or just walking in the office with the “I’m bored,” excuse. What do I do then? I’m ashamed to admit, the TV becomes the babysitter. I have nothing against them watching TV, and we watch plenty of it in the summer. But I do feel a twinge of guilt if they’re watching hours of mindless shows just so I can get some uninterrupted work time.

2. Lunch.
This shouldn’t be time consuming, right? Just slap some peanut butter on bread and everyone’s happy. Turns out, it’s not that easy. It takes time to get everyone’s sandwiches made, drinks poured, and fruit cut up. Then they devour the food and take off, and I’m left with a big mess. A good hour of the day gone down the drain, not used for work or doing fun things with the kids.

3. Messes!
The lunch mess is the least of my worries. The other day, my son asked when we were going to clean out the art cabinet. He’s been pestering me on that one for months. I was in the middle of an assignment, and just needed about half an hour. I told him we would do it, go ahead and start without me. Forty-five minutes later, I walked into the kitchen and couldn’t even get from the pantry to the stove. There was a huge mountain of coloring books and art supplies blocking the path. What was I thinking? A little time alone, and the kids can turn a relatively straightened up house into a complete wreck. I feel like I’m being punished for ignoring them!

4. Mom. Mom. Mom!
Even when they’re not tattling, whining, or hurt, I can’t escape the dreaded three-letter word. I’m sitting at my desk, I’ve gotten my mind ready to dive into writing, I get one sentence hammered out, and then, “Mom!” Whether someone’s bleeding or they just want to tell me they decided to color Strawberry Shortcake’s hair orange, they call me like it’s the biggest emergency of their lives. I get the situation under control, but by then I’ve completed lost my train of thought.

5. Fun.
I want my kids to remember summer as a time when they explored in our creek, hung out with friends at the pool, and ate popsicles on the porch. They can’t do that if I’m constantly saying, “leave me alone, I’m working.” And the more they interrupt, the longer it takes me to work.

Thank goodness for babysitters! The money spent is well worth it. She comes, the kids have fun, someone else takes care of making them lunch, messes are kept under control or cleaned up, I don’t hear the word mom for four hours straight, and best of all, when the babysitter leaves, we all get to have fun!