The babysitting conundrum is another element of parenthood I had not fully anticipated. Meals out with the other half or friends have become a whole lot more expensive since children came onto the scene. Twice weekly outings are no longer a common occurrence. In fact, eating out has become far less frequent.
We already spend a pretty penny on daytime childcare. As such, I often begrudge forking out eye-watering hourly rates for someone to look after a sleeping baby. We’ve tried various things to avoid having to pay for a babysitter, with a £60 price tag for the evening. I'm afraid it’s the northern blood in us!
We have taken our daughter out in her pram to restaurants (much less of an option now she is a toddler). We have deposited her onto friend’s beds when invited round for dinner. Although the tinge of guilt at bundling her back into her pram at 1am to get the night bus home, doesn’t feel like it is winning me any ‘mum of the year' competitions. I know people set up babysitting syndicates, so I need to probably look into this. Indeed, I see a new WhatsApp group in the making!
Last week, I decided on inviting friends to my house and avoided the need for babysitters. I looked to The River Cottage for inspiration and cooked a squash, chickpea and lentil stew, followed by figs with dark chocolate shards. Something simple after a hectic week at work. Unfortunately, I had to include the boyfriend who advised that 'vegetarian food when entertaining is boring'. He kindly mentioned this 20 minutes before our guests arrived - not helpful....
Thankfully, and one of the huge benefits when dining at home, is that you can drink some of the wine you have been buying and saving over the last few months. And it feels like it's free (I know it's not, but decent wine is restaurants can come at high prices). With olives and jamon we drank an own label Non Vintage Champagne. This was followed by an aged Austrian Riesling from the Kamptal (1994). Then we moved to Italy for the reds, with a 2011 Brunello and a 2006 Barolo. It was a fun evening, but our daughter woke up at 10pm, demanding to be part of the party. At this point I decided that paying for a babysitter is worth the investment after all.