"I'm wondering what other working parents do on weekends in terms of getting babysitting or other child care help, if any, especially those of you in jobs that don't have set beginning and end times and can spill over to into 24/7. We have a full time sitter who averages about 10 hours per day 5 days per week to cover us for our workweek, but we get so totally backed up in terms of personal/housekeeping stuff, errands, upkeep stuff, and sleep, that much of the weekend involves spotting each other so one of us can exercise for a change, or take a nap, or do a few errands, and we never feel like we have caught up and certainly don't feel like we can do many "family"/together things with our off-time. Then throw into that when one of us has to do office-type work for a few hours or longer over a weekend, and it's all over.
So my question is,
“Do some of you get child care help for a "date" night only, or for some daytime support? And do you have a weekly date night or is it more periodic? So far we've had a few date nights, but don't have a regular gig and never get any daytime help other than family members once in a while, and I'm beginning to think that we've been taking the shortsighted approach, and that my sanity is on the line here. (and as an aside, if you do get off-hours help, do you then feel like you're not spending enough time with your child(ren)… I think I've avoided getting some needed help partly for this reason, and don't want to feel guilty)."
ANSWERS - summary compiled by the Original Poster:
I've tallied most of the responses I got on the question I posed on keeping sane for working parents (generally geared toward 2 working parents but most applicable to single working parents too I'd think), and here's what I came up with:
1. Regular date night - 7 mentions (including 1 vote for 1-2 date nights per month, 1 for weekly weekday dates on Thursdays (and splitting the sitter with a neighbor that night to keep costs down), 1 for weekly date nights for dinner outside the home (for conversation and catchup time, not, for example, to see a movie), and 1 for weekday date nights generally). One person suggested having a number of sitter options as backup, so there's always someone who can help, and a number of people hire high school or college students for this type of thing. One person mentioned just having a nice meal together at home regularly after the kid(s) go to sleep.
2. Weekend daytime sitting help - 10 mentions (including 1 for a few hours, 1 for 4-5 hours every other Saturday afternoon, 1 for 5 hours every Sunday late afternoon, and about 2 for starting Saturday date night sitting coverage early (e.g., 3, 4, 5 p.m.) to wrap sanity time in before a date night. Same thing on students for this type of thing. When their kids got older, 1 used playdates for this purpose.
3. Cleaning person - 8 mentions (and laundry service/delivery got 3 votes)
4. Delivery/internet purchases (particularly Fresh Direct) - 3 mentions (including 1 for dry cleaning delivery and 1 for anything by internet possible (nycpet.com, drugstore.com, overstock.com, amazon.com, freshdirect.com) - separately, Fresh Direct got 7 mentions. Oh, and the consensus on tipping Fresh Direct seems to be $1/box with runner up at tipping $4-5 per order.
5. Childcare shares - 4 mentions (1 mentioned a sitting coop, another 2 mentioned a casual regular weekly swap with another family, in one case where every other weekend one family drops off the kid(s) at the other's and the families have dinner when the swap is done so that 2x/month each set of parents gets some down time and they eat together weekly)
6. Easy meals (pre-made or takeout) - 3 mentions (1 mentioned Six O’clock Scramble, which pre-plans ingredients and makes shopping easier; 1 suggests planning meals on Sunday night for the week and making extra and freezing half)
7. "No weekend work" policy - 4 votes for not taking work home on weekends, including 1 who said she and her spouse try never to work on Saturdays, except in case of emergency
8. Sitter help - 4 mentions including 1 who suggested that the sitter cook a bit for the family (including dinner or Friday end of the day so weekend cooking gets easier); and 2 who ask their sitter to do some errands/pickups and 1 who suggested getting an au pair if space permits
9. Cutting back hours and/or telecommuting - 5 mentions (including 2 people who have a 4 day workweek, 1 who mentioned that she and her spouse each take a half-day off per month to catch up, 1 who telecommutes 1 day/week, and 1 who suggested stopping transactional work since it's so unpredictable (which means a career change of sorts).
10. Personal assistant - 3 mentions (not from experience, just suggestions) - one person suggested finding someone for a few hours here or there on Craig's List
11. Getting organized and focused - 2 mentions including 1 for staying "in the moment" (i.e., not working when you should be with the family or focusing on personal while at work), and 1 vote for getting organized (e.g., http://www.flylady.net for tips)
12. Other - 1 vote for finding a good handyman, 1 for an early kids' bedtime (e.g., 7) for personal time later in the evening; and 1 vote for no sleep (including getting up super-early to catch up). Lastly, I know of 2 moms who have a weekly "free" night to socialize, do errands, work late, whatever/their choice, so my husband and I created a weekly free night for each of us, and that has helped a bit.