Being raised by a single working mom, I remember always having extended family around. Aunts and cousins either lived with us or I was at their houses, there was never a need for a babysitter.
Now that I’m a single working mother raising a child with limited family around, It has been a challenge creating this village for my own son. I have zero experience with “babysitters” and the concept of a stranger caring for your child alone in your home is foreign to me.
Am I supposed to let some High School senior watch my child? Unattended? That doesn’t seem reasonable. Caleb has autism and special needs. Do you watch the news? Do you see how teachers in schools filled with people treat children like him?
These are the internal conversations plaguing me when I even considered getting outside help. And then there were the external conversations I had with his Gemma.
“People are crazy Tiffany. Not my grandson. I’m not comfortable with that.”
Caleb’s laundry list of dos and don’t and what if’s would send any stranger running for the hills. Would I ever be able to leave the house alone again? A brunch? A girl’s night? Happy Hour? It didn’t seem possible. My mom, the only other person who knows Caleb like I do, is equally exhausted and she needs a break too. She’d power through this life and never leave the house again though for her grand-baby. I couldn’t live like that. Does that make me a bad mother? He was my son. My responsibility. I’d partied like a rockstar long enough maybe I did just need to sit my ass down somewhere. If I leave the house would the guilt even allow me to enjoy myself?
I’d somewhat settled on the fact that maybe he was too young to be left with someone I didn’t know and that maybe once his communication improved, I would attempt to get him a sitter occasionally. It was around that time that I found an Instagram called A Single Black Motherhood. A network of single moms across the country who could connect and relate, and from that I met a woman right here in Tampa.
It was through this woman that I realized I deserved to be more than a mom. She was hosting a brunch and I had to attend. I also needed to be there without guilt. I wanted to enjoy myself. I needed to find a sitter. At that moment I downloaded a babysitting app. I searched for the terms “special needs” and “autism”. Not much came up except for maybe a vague footnote about additional fees. There were dozens of profiles to choose from. I remember thinking “This is worst then the dating apps” and my ability to choose correctly on those left me with little confidence in choosing a suitable babysitter. What if Caleb didn’t take to her? Could she handle his shenanigans if he was upset that I’d left? Gemma had already said she was NOT leaving the house but I just wanted her to be a fly on the wall.
That’s when I came across an Instagram friend talking about date night with her husband and using DOUBLEMINT SITTING to watch their two little girls. I immediately went to their IG, the website, searched reviews, etc… As I hit the drop-down menu, I was shocked in between Overnight and Pet sitting was a separate option for special needs. I sent in an application right away! It was thorough and I liked that. If they were screening me I knew they were screening the sitters.
The ladies of DoubleMint sitting responded almost right away. They answered my questions and emails with no hesitation. In the days before my brunch, they provided me with my sitter options, including pictures and their back story experience, etc… I chose the older of the two. In my mind that meant more experience..lol. I asked about whether I needed to have activities or games and the young lady coming to stay quickly advised she would have a bag of goodies for them to have a good time. We always communicated via text with myself, the sitter and the owners. They had a rule not to communicate with the sitter directly and I liked that. They had everyone’s safety in mind.
Fast forward to the day of, our sitter was on time and all smiles. Caleb took to her almost right away, she sent me pictures throughout their time together to reassure me that all was well. I was out, having a good time, guilt-free! This was a big step for me and a bigger step for Caleb. They watched TV, he climbed all over her and ate her snack she’d brought for herself. He asked about his sitter in the following days and wanted to know when she’d be back. Financially, a babysitter isn’t always an option when I want to go out but DoubleMint sitting made a lasting impression on both of us and I’d definitely consider their team part of our village. Caleb and I can’t wait for future playdates. It looks my mama may be able to get out and about on occasion after all!