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The babysitters’ club

Living


Diary of a Home Bird
Ciara Galvin

‘CAN I say hello to my poo?’, ‘What’s an emergency?’ and ‘What’s a drain?’. They are just a sample of questions I was hit with during a recent 20-hour babysitting stint.
My niece Aoibh is an inquisitive two-and-a-half year old, and boy did she put Auntie Ciara under pressure for answers.
Her parents must have thought I did such a good job babysitting the male roomie that they enlisted me for duty while they attended a wedding. Two children for 20 hours, what could go wrong?
The night before, I arrived to the house with notepad and pen in hand. I was taking no chances. From how to make a bottle, to how to dress a baby, all eventualities were covered.
Aoibh was eager for me to stay. “Auntie Ciara, can we have the sleepover tonight?” I told her I forgot my jammies and we’d have to wait ’til the following day.
The next day was included a ‘dry run’ of sorts, as two of my other nieces required ‘sitting’ for a time early in the day. The nearly three-year-old Saran took to hiding in the hot press and messing with the heating system. I assume – I hope – the returning holidayers (the roomies) have fixed that by now.
If that wasn’t enough bottle feeding and Peppa Pig watching for the day, I then visited my friend Rachel, who was also on babysitting duty for the weekend. And while we gooed and gaaaed over her niece Lily, we were joined by our friend Sharon, who, you guessed it, was minding her niece Emma.
It was the babysitters’ club, except instead of the hit series’ characters of Kristy, Mary Anne, Claudia and Stacey braiding each other’s hair, we moaned about car-insurance prices and discussed what we were going to eat that evening.
We also lamented that there wasn’t a big enough house to allow us all to have a communal babysitting party.
Later that evening, before the children arrived, I studied my notes. (Careful observation of my sister and my sisters-in-law with their children taught me that one must be organised to survive.) ‘7pm feed of a 7oz bottles for little Alex’, ‘Two stories before bed for Aoibh but she’ll talk you into reading more’.
Pyjamas laid out I had my game face on. However, I hadn’t predicted a teething six month old. Thankfully my brother and his wife, Karen, called round. An expectant mother, Karen’s maternal instincts kicked in and she worked her magic while I, like poor teething Lexi, fought back the tears. (I got in trouble for calling Alex ‘Lexi’ by big sis Aoibh, who reminded me to call her ‘Lexi doodle dandy’.)
So, things learned from babysitting:
Swaddling a baby is quite similar to making a burrito – you just keep folding until the contents are secure and snug inside.
Never let a toddler view the remains of heady college days. (‘Auntie Ciara, what’s that in your belly button? It’s so cute.’) Here’s hoping she doesn’t ask her father for a belly-button piercing any time soon.
And finally, it takes longer to recover from minding children than it does from a severe hangover.

> In her fortnightly Diary of a Home Bird column, Ciara Galvin reveals the trials and tribulations of a twenty-something year old still living with her parents.