When I was a teenager, I babysat a lot.
I had a 3-kid limit. Seriously, most parents do not want more than 3 kids, so why would you expect a teenager to watch that many kids? I also had an age limit – being that I preferred to watch babies and toddlers. Kids who don’t talk back.
Fast-forward to adult-hood.
For a season, I worked at a day care, with two of us, watching 7 babies. Later, my husband and I spent a whole day watching a friend’s 4 boys.
Somehow, my capacity actually shrunk once I had to care for my own child 24/7. But as she grew into a toddler, watching 1 other kiddo was great. It gave her a play-mate.
One day, a few years ago, my friend asked, “can you watch my kid, and another friend’s 2 kids?” So on top of my own toddler, you want me to watch 3 Preschoolers? That is 4 kids! Are you nuts? Not to mention it had been a long time since I had interacted with preschoolers. What would I do with kids who talk?
So I politely declined. Sorry, friend.
Fast-forward a few more years.
When our 2nd daughter was born, we survived 5 weeks living in the Ronald McDonald House, sharing a bed-room with our firstborn. Followed by 16 months of drowning in milk, just trying to feed the baby, while big sister was potty-training and peeing all over the floor. It was nuts!
In the midst of that, I realized, babies are a lot of work (especially if they have cleft palate). But older kids are way easier. They can feed themselves, use to toilet themselves. Not to mention walk, talk, and tell you exactly what they want.
After surviving that season of life, I have a much higher tolerance for chaos.
Our first-born is now a preschooler, so we have toys for when older kids come over to play. Not to mention a my daughter does a great job entertaining her friend, so I hardly need to interact with either of them. Our daughter is an extrovert and needs a play-mate all the time. Which is why I gave birth to her a younger sister. But as it turns out, siblings are not as much fun a friends. So now we have play-dates and kid-swaps, with families who have 2 kids the same-ish ages as my 2 kids.
Several months ago, a friend asked if we could watch her 3 kids. That is no big deal. Now, I am used to occasionally watching 2-3 extra kids on top of my own two children. But then another friend called asking, “my babysitter canceled last minute, can you watch my 2 kids tonight?”
Me, as a mom of 1 toddler, would have said, “heck no, I’m already watching 3 extra kids tonight. Are you insane?” But as a mom of 2 kids, my response was, “sure, why not? We already have 3 extra kids tonight, what’s 2 more?” The child who was the most work, was my own toddler, and I already had to feed her dinner anyway. So the rest of the kids were easy. Also my husband was home to help watch all 7 kids. And we always eat mac-n-cheese, when we have extra kids for dinner.
As it turns out, the more kids you have, the more kids you can handle. But if I had 7 kids myself, I would need friends who also have 7-ish kids. Which would be a total of 14 kids, for only 4 adults. That sounds insane. Currently when we get together with all our closest friends we do have 15 kids and 12 adults – which is a much better ratio, and I’m only responsible for 2 of those kids. So I am just going to stop now at 2 kids. Because Mac-n-cheese for dinner every night is not a balanced diet.