Why You Shouldn’t Feel Guilty About Your Kids Spending the Summer With a Babysitter

feeling guilty about babysitter"
feeling guilty about babysitter
Source: Shutterstock
Source: Shutterstock

Summer can mean sunny days, ice cream treats, and a chance to slow down. Yet for many parents, it’s also a stressful time of year. With school out of session, the responsibility of occupying kids all day falls squarely on parental shoulders. For working parents in the summer, this presents an obvious conundrum—what are you supposed to do with your kids all day while you’re on the clock? And stay-at-home parents can find themselves overwhelmed by the relentless demand for entertainment.

Many families look to summer camps or babysitters to ease the burden (although the cost burden of this childcare is a different conversation.) But often, the decision to outsource childcare during the summer comes with a nagging sense of guilt. Because if we’re able to, shouldn’t we want to rearrange our lives over the summer to spend more time with our kids? Isn’t that what good parents do? Won’t our kids be better off for it? Feeling guilty about hiring a babysitter or other childcare in the summer is a common feeling, but it’s one worth challenging. The reality is that opting for a babysitter while your children are off school actually has benefits for both kids and parents alike.

Babysitters are important “in-between” figures in kids’ lives

As a 10-year-old, I had a teenage babysitter named Sarah who was my absolute favorite. She seemed so sophisticated, and every time she came over I’d ask her to play “high school,” where I pretended to have a locker and go to football games with my friends, just like she did.

Sometimes, I’d talk to Sarah about a fight I’d had with a friend or a boy I had a crush on—things I was less likely to tell my parents. She played an important role in my life; not quite a friend but also not a grown-up in the same way my parents and teachers were. Instead, she was more of a mentor or a cool older sister figure who guided me through the travails of my tween years in a way I only knew to be grateful for later in life.

They help your kids discover new sides of themselves

The other day, two neighbor girls came over to watch my boys, who are 7 and 3. The girls showed up with a plastic crate filled with games and crafts, and when I got home later, my oldest was sewing a button onto a piece of fabric. “I love sewing!” he announced. I don’t even own a sewing kit, so it wouldn’t ever have occurred to me to put a needle and thread in his hand. But now we’re working on making a shirt for his favorite stuffed animal—and he’s all in.

It helps your kids get comfortable with new people

For kids, interacting with different caregivers and being exposed to various caregiving approaches can teach adaptability and flexibility in social settings. I’m fortunate that my kids are past the separation anxiety phase. They’re both quite comfortable with new people once I’ve communicated to them that the person is someone they can trust. They understand how to build a rapport with someone new and quickly ramp up to having fun together. I’m sure this is at least partially due to all the different babysitters they’ve had over the years.

feeling guilty about hiring a babysitter kids chalk
Source: Shutterstock

Babysitters do activities with your kids that you never would

I’ve come to accept that I’m not exactly your typical “fun mom.” Case in point—while I like the idea of baking with my kids, in reality, it really challenges my Type A tendencies. (“That’s too much flour… too much—oh my God, just let me do it.”) There are a lot of things I won’t do with my kids, like play in the sandbox or have a contest to see who can hit me with a water balloon. 

“There are a lot of things I won’t do with my kids, like play in the sandbox or have a contest to see who can hit me with a water balloon. But babysitters will do these things.” 

But babysitters will do these things. For example, one of the teenage sitters we have on rotation is a LEGO mastermind. I’ll come home to find him and the kids knee-deep in constructing entire LEGO cities with elaborate towers that rival our city’s skyline. It’s not something I’d ever have the patience for, but seeing how much joy it brings my kids always makes me grateful he’s in their lives. And one more reason I’m not feeling guilty about hiring a babysitter.

It helps your children become more independent

When I’m around my kids, suddenly, they forget how to brush their own teeth or where we keep their socks. (Answer: in the sock drawer where they have been literally their entire life.) Their default is to ask me to do everything for them. With a babysitter in the mix, though, it’s like a switch flips. They’re all about showing off their independence, proudly dressing themselves, and even tying their own shoes. It’s in these moments I’m reminded just how resilient and capable kids can be when they’re given a chance to step out from under the security blanket of having their parents around.

Spending time apart is good for your relationship with your child

Society can sometimes send the message that being a good parent means spending every waking moment glued to our kids’ sides. But often, it’s the moments apart that make us better parents. Stepping away for a bit isn’t just about catching our breath—it’s about nurturing ourselves and reconnecting with the things that make us who we are outside of being parents, whether that’s our career, a hobby, or time with a partner or friends.

For me, those breaks are like hitting the reset button. Whether it’s diving into a passion project, catching up with friends, or simply indulging in some much-needed self-care, that time away helps me come back feeling refreshed and ready to tackle whatever chaos my kids have cooked up. And you know what? When we reunite, I’m not only happier to see them, but I’m also more present, more patient, and just all-around a better parent. It’s like our bond gets a little boost, and both of our emotional tanks get a top-up.

As we move toward the summer months, it’s easy to start feeling guilty about hiring a babysitter or having someone else care for our kids. But instead of feeling guilty, what if we thought about how kids aren’t just playing games or doing crafts when they’re with a sitter? They’re expanding their horizons, discovering new passions, and learning to navigate the world with confidence. So go ahead, take that break, and watch as your bond with your child grows stronger with each adventure—big or small. 

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