Melinda, Rachel, Nicole, John, Caitlin, Ruby, Lindsay, West, Gabby, Kelsey, Simi, Kat, Madison, Laura, many others, and more to come. Call this one a punt, but today (and always) I am thankful for babysitters.
Even at its most splendid, parenting is not a union job--no required breaks, not even for a meal. Worse than "not required," if you don't assert your break time, find someone to cover your position, and pay her wage, you aren't getting a break. At least, I rarely would. My husband doesn't have a 9-5 job, often works late hours, and travels frequently. If I want to get out of my house during the week and school is not in session, a babysitter is my only hope.
Fortunately, whether because they are acclimated to the situation or because babysitters are a lot more fun than I am (sword fighting! board games! TV! candy!), my kids are nearly always happy to have a sitter. Unlike I did as a child, they do not con the sitter into letting them stay up past their bedtime (which is probably best, as I'm still trying to get over that Fantasy Island episode where the little girl morphed into a jaguar). They usually work a dessert into the evening and they persuade the weaker ones to let them watch TV, but those are trade-offs this parent is willing to make.
To be honest, it seems like a situation in which all parties win. The kids get to play with someone more fun who will let them get away with stuff, I get to leave the house and talk to grown-ups, and a teenager gets to make some cash. When I put it that way, I wonder why I don't hire a sitter to manage the dinner-to-bedtime window every night.
Let's see...call it two hours every weeknight, which is ten hours per week. At the local going rate for babysitters of $10 per hour, that's $100 per week. With 52 weeks in a year, that's $5200 annually (without taking into account the unpaid time off for holidays and vacation). As any parent who has suffered through the dinner-to-bedtime witching hour knows, $5200 is a small price to pay for the sanity to be gained by fleeing during those two hours. Excuse me while I craft my want ad.