When I work at home one day a week, I have a mother's helper. We have 3 babysitters for weekends. We live within 20 minutes of my in-laws and we have a handful of loving "aunties" who have been gracious enough to watch our kid when we're in a pinch. And... we're the happiest we've been since the baby was born almost three years ago.
Causal? Correlational? I don't know, but I know our dumbest mistake was thinking from the beginning that the only person who could care for our child was either his mom or my mom. That anyone else would..? What? Drop her? Feed her to the sharks? I don't know. I know we resisted having any other caretakers for a couple years. We honored that because it was both of our instinct and who knows, maybe there was a bigger reason for that instinct.
But we suffered, trying to bring her out with us to parties and no one having a good time, or never having a date night if neither grandma was around, or skipping things, or just not having the right balance of care for ourselves and our marriage.
And looking back, how many people said to me, "I'll watch her!" "Just let me know, call on me anytime!" "I would LOVE to snuggle that baby for a couple hours while you guys go out". But we didn't want to inconvenience anyone, or we didn't have the money for a sitter, and most of all, I guess we just felt like no one could care for her like we do.
WAKE UP CALL! No one CAN care for her like we do. We're her parents. Nor is it necessarily in her best interest to always have perfect care. Because she's not always going to get perfect care in her life. She needs to be adaptable and flexible, and cool with lots of different personalities.
So, we had to hop onto care.com and start branching out. So if there is one thing I can say to a newborn mom/dad, it's start a relationship NOW. Start by having someone come over for 2-3 hours as a mother's helper while you get some things done or lock yourself in the room "doing housework" (watching Oprah). When you like what you see, start running little errands... then get them to babysit. Yup. Leave your new, perfect little being with a stranger and go get some fries down the street. And a beer.
It does take a village... except the problem is, we used to LIVE in our villages. People were looking out for the needs of new parents/the elderly/the sick/etc. We don't live in villages anymore - we have to build our own. Support. We're not supposed to go it alone.