Monday, January 17, 2011

Confessions of an Expat Mom: Babysitter Woes

I love my son. And as much as I love my son, I keep thinking to myself... it sure would be nice to be able to do ONE thing without him every once in a while.

Is that too much to ask?

Finding a babysitter in Egypt is difficult. Ask any mom who lives here and you'll most likely hear a long, drawn-out story about how they either found the babysitter they have (grrrr) or their lack of babysitter and why.

I would be a member of the latter group.

It is interesting to see how carefully people guard their babysitters in Egypt. I mean, seriously, it's not like I'm trying to steal her away from you to offer her a full-time job here - I just want one hour or two to myself.

Egyptians themselves don't seem to suffer from a lack of babysitters. With apparently entire families of baby-lovin' women sitting at home willing and able to watch children at the drop of the hat, I have yet to hear of someone not being able to attend a certain event because they couldn't find a babysitter. In fact, I don't think the thought ever crossed their mind.

I know, I know, I could be WAY off but it's just the way I see things from where I sit.

My husband is sympathetic to my plight. At least he seems to be. And while he DID offer to stay with our son at home while he takes a nap on Fridays so that I can go to the ladies gym for an hour or so, I've yet to take him up on that offer.

But I still might.

All in all I really can do most things I want to do in Egypt. But it takes so much more time and energy from me to do the same things I did before I had my son.

Because you can't just pop out the door on a whim the way you used to anymore. It takes a good 15-20 minutes (or some SERIOUS pre-planning) to get out the door with you, your baby and all your stuff. Even if you're like me and keep using the same bag from day to day, there's still so much to take care of first.

Still don't understand what I mean?

Here's a list of all the stuff I have to bring with me every time we go out the door.
*Change of clothes
*Packs of tissues
*Pen AND paper
*Mobile phone

See why I dread going out sometimes? I'm already sitting here now and thinking about all the stuff I need to prepare for our trip out today and it makes me cringe.

So, yes, it would be nice to have a sitter available every once in a while.

Perhaps the solution to all of this would be to put my son into a daycare center. I know for many expats (like myself) putting your child into a daycare so that you can sit at home alone seems awfully selfish.

Because isn't the best person to take care of my son (and be there for every single moment) his mother?

Yes, it is. So sometimes even the THOUGHT of putting my son at his age seems somehow lazy and selfish. Sure I want the best for my son. And I certainly don't want to miss out on all those important moments (those first-time for doing... a moment that can never be replaced).

And I am happy to be a stay-at-home expat mom. It's a challenge and a blessing all at the same time.

I know I am not alone in my feelings. Mothers I've met in Egypt with children young and old all face these kinds of issues at one time or another. It might look or smell a bit different. But we are living in a culture very different from what we're used to back home.

I know for me that childcare in the States is viewed very different than they see it here in Egypt. I started babysitting when I was in my early teens. My sister still works part-time as a nanny (and she's a college-grad working on her MBA). It's actually pretty good money if you're willing to sacrifice the time (and the evenings).

In Egypt, Egyptian teenage girls do not babysit. Even college-aged girls don't babysit. I think there are several reasons for this: (1) young people do not usually work until they finish school and (2) young ladies don't know much about taking care of kids.

So it seems that only older Egyptian ladies babysit.

Of course many foreigners (and Egyptians) go the route of hiring a nanny. But I am not so desperate as to give up my one-on-one time with my son just so I can leave him with someone once or twice a week. Plus it's expensive.

Maybe one day I'll figure this whole babysitter thing out. If I do, I'll let you know.

What about you? Have you had any luck finding a babysitter in Egypt?


  1. I'd like to offer my services. So, if you're ever in need...... :)

  2. Well you KNOW we would love that. =)


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