Pay for Play

Confession: We pay a babysitter so we can both work out each Thursday.

Of course, I never thought I’d be one of “those women” who pays someone else to watch her kid(s) while she goes to the gym — yet that’s exactly what we do.

Luis has racquetball league Mon/Thurs (7:00) and I have Zumba Tues/Thurs evenings (7:30). Like many of my friends who both enjoy working out and trade off evenings or mornings with their spouses, we tried that approach for a while — each of us missing a class/session a week. It worked out nicely: we would have some quality family time when we got home from work for dinner and a walk with Maya and Rocco, and then on Thursdays — the night our workouts conflicted — whoever stayed home would take care of her bedtime routine; the next week we’d switch.

But then it stopped working.

See, both of us really need our workouts — for our mental, physical, and emotional well-being. Working out regularly makes us better people, and better mates; trading off just wasn’t working. I resented not being able to go to my Zumba class (it’s as much social as it is physical for me) and he pays to be on his league at the Y. Of course, with parenting comes great sacrifices; I completely get that. But our physical fitness isn’t something either of us are willing to give up — at least, not yet.

[Talk to me when there’s two kids (or more) someday and I might feel differently … but for now, this is how we roll].

So a couple months ago, we asked one of Maya’s daycare teachers we trust to watch her for the hour when our activities overlap (i.e., right at bed-time) and have been alternating among a couple daycare teachers (depending on availability) ever since. Truthfully, it’s one of the best things we could have done.

Sure, I can think of a lot of things I’d prefer to do with the money we are spending on babysitters … and eventually the benefits might stop outweighing the costs. But with our families in N.J. and El Salvador – and us in Michigan – we don’t have much of a choice right now.  There are no doting grandparents or aunts or uncles nearby to help us out, and because Maya is in daycare all day while we’re at work, the absolute last thing I’d want to do is send her to the gym’s daycare. If our workouts conflict, we need to hire a sitter in order to both go.

So essentially we pay to play.

Perhaps the best thing about Maya being in daycare (and a daycare we adore) is now we have a plethora of awesome babysitters from which to choose–people who know Maya super-well, know us, know Rocco. We can call on them for date nights every couple of weeks (very important for parents!), as well as for Thursday Zumba/racquetball nights and other things that come up.

I don’t think we’ll be able to keep this up forever … but for now, it’s what’s working. And as they say, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

How about you? How do you find time to fit in exercise with children? Do you trade off nights/mornings? Do you hire a babysitter?

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2 thoughts on “Pay for Play

  1. There’s always a way. When kids get older, it is easier to bring them to the gym’s childcare room. We belong to our local Y and one of my favorite things to do is to work out when they do their various activities (swimming lessons, gymnastics classes, etc.). Belonging to a family gym is definitely advantageous that way.

  2. That’s a good call, Susan. L is a member of the Y. When she is older that might work but for now, since she’s in daycare all day 4 days a week, I’d feel awful sending her to more daycare, ya know?

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