by Erin Sweeten
My husband and I dated for a few years and were married twelve years before we had our first kid. That means we had almost 1.5 decades together without needing a single babysitter. We’d just say, “Hey, I’m going for a run—wanna come?” or, “Ooh, there’s a meteor shower tonight. Let’s drive out of the city and go watch it.” Or, “I feel like going to a taco stand.” Then we would just do it. If I needed an ingredient for a meal, I’d run out to the store and get it. Then we had the kids. That’s when we learned that there was no longer such a thing as a Free Date. That’s when I learned that herding three kids under age five into the supermarket at the same time is a harrowing obstacle course that takes up to three times longer than it used to. That’s when I learned there are no sick days in parenting. Having kids in a state far from family can cost big $$ in childcare. It came as a shock, let me tell you. Like firecrackers-going-off-suddenly-in-the-street level shock. But I have found some ways to reduce the financial burden of paying someone else to pay attention to my kids awhile so I can pay attention to my husband or, if the stars align, actually get some things done. Did you know that some supermarkets will watch your kids for you for free? Check out these cost-saving options.
Inexpensive kid-free time is possible, even if your mom lives five states away. So push that non-car-shaped shopping cart around the store with a mind at ease.
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