Holidays Vivian | 04 Feb 2011 11:26 pm

Parents Can Help Each Other At Christmas

The first few years that they were parents, Gail and Darin dreaded the stress of the Christmas season. The difficulty of shopping with a child in a stroller made an already arduous task even more tiring. The only way to avoid taking their baby daughter with them was to do all of their shopping seperately, while one spouse stayed at home. They avoided Christmas parties, caroling with their friends, and many of the activities they would have loved to take part in. They weren’t bitter or begrudging-they loved their daughter and loved being with her-they just found that the constant attention a child requires prevented them from enjoying many of Christmas’s traditions.

By the time they had their second child, a son, their little girl was in preschool, and Gail and Darin knew some of the other school parents-parents with the same Christmas-time issues. But, along with the other parents, they developed a solution, by forming a babysitting pool.

Around Thanksgiving, the parents share their planned schedules with each other via e-mail-which nights they’ve been invited to parties or other holiday functions which might not be enjoyable for their kids, etc. They also share the dates on which they’re willing to babysit each others’ kids, including weekend days, when most people do their shopping. Then someone in the group collates all the information and dates, and draws up a calendar, with each set of parents’ babysitting schedules. And usually, each household only has one day or night for which they’re responsible for the other families’ children.

And the group, as a whole, strives to make each family’s babysitting night or day as easy and effortless as possible. When they drop their kids off at the designated baby-sitters’ house, they also drop off food or games for the kids to share, so everyone shares the time and expense of the pool.

The kids all love the plan because it means that three or four times a season, they go to “parties” with their friends, where they’re much more comfortable than they would be at Dad’s boss’s house or running from mall to mall while Mom and Dad shop. The parents love the plan because their kids are being supervised by other adults they trust.

And the parents who babysit always end up enjoying their time as well. Besides the food that the other parents drop off, they can rent videos to keep the kids occupied, or supervise games with holiday themes. One family loves to have all the children help to trim their Christmas tree and decorate their house.

At the end of the season, Gail and Darin’s group gather at one family’s house for a New Year’s Day party-they usually hire a babysitter for the day, and reserve a portion of the house for the children, while the parents gather together for a relaxing day of food, friendship, and football.

Many parents find themselves dreading all the hassles of the holiday season each year, without realizing that their friends-other parents-are in exactly the same boat. With a little communication and cooperation, parents can work together to make sure everyone in their circle has as pleasant a Christmas as possible.

Gail and Darin love Christmastime, now. They’re able to share the joy of the season with their children and spend time alone together, as adults, in ways they thought they never would-at least for another decade.

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