Steamboat Springs area students paint toddlers' faces at a school-sponsored activity fair.

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Steamboat Springs area students paint toddlers' faces at a school-sponsored activity fair.

Kelly Bastone: The search for a baby-sitter

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— “Simone is such a sweetie, you must have a easy time finding babysitters,” I often hear. If only that were true!

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Kelly Bastone and her energy-filled 3-year-old Simone.

Babysitters are hard to come by, and I don’t think Simone’s the problem. She’s a friendly, outgoing kid who’s easy duty, as far as supervision goes. But in Steamboat at least, there don’t seem to be too many people — particularly teenagers — who want to watch children, certainly not for the rates that most families can pay.

My husband and I try to hire babysitters pretty regularly, not so much for dinner dates but to ski or ride bikes together. That was what we most liked to do together before Simone came along, and we still find sport to be great for having good talks and making happy memories as a couple.

But last week, I phoned four teens in an attempt to find someone who’d watch Simone for a few hours on Saturday afternoon. One youngster was in Europe; another was studying music in Estes Park for the month; the third was at a swim meet; one was just plain busy.

They’re great kids who’ve got talent and drive, so half of me feels bad for begrudging them their passions. The other half finds it sad that kids now have so much going on that they’re rarely available for the kind of babysitting jobs that I once took—and that funded my teenage fun.

“Kids these days!” I grump like a nostalgic old fart. And yes, it’s self-serving to wish that my community’s teens had nothing better to do than babysit my 3 year-old — but would that be best for them?

Maybe not, though I’d like to think that we’ll enforce plenty of free, unscheduled time upon Simone as she grows up, partly so she can learn how to engineer her own fun, but also to give her a way to earn her own ice-cream money. All the jobs I worked as a teenager (babysitting and otherwise) taught me valuable lessons about following through on obligations, showing up on time, and making responsible decisions — not just for myself, but for those who depended on me.

So I’m proud of my accomplished young neighbors, and I hope that Simone will pursue similarly enriching stuff when she’s their age. She can practice soccer, dance, cello, Spanish — I’m excited to see what she chooses. But I think I’ll still encourage her to babysit some younger members of the tribe from time to time, so she can practice being an adult.

Kelly Bastone moved to Steamboat in 2002 because she loved the Yampa Valley's easy-access skiing, bike trails and fishing holes. So when she got pregnant with her daughter in 2010, she didn’t abandon those pursuits — she just figured out ways to include her. She and her husband, Ben, are big fans of scheduling baby-sitters for powder mornings or epic bike rides because they believe that fulfilled people make the best parents! But thanks to all the kid-friendly outdoor gear available nowadays, they can bring Simone with them on hikes, backcountry ski tours, hut trips, bike rides, fishing sessions and campouts. Kelly’s blog is about her family and all the ways they exploit Steamboat’s awesomeness. When not parenting, Kelly a freelance journalist for such publications as “Sunset,” “Runner’s World,” “Bicycling” and “National Parks,” and a contributing editor for “Backpacker” and Vail/Beaver Creek magazines and a contributing writer for “5280: The Denver Magazine.”

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