parents

Rosie has a go at babysitting kids. And it's awesome.

Easy, right?

By ROSIE WATERLAND

Recently, I was asked to spend a day looking after three kids I’ve never met. Apparently, the idea of a clueless 20-something babysitting kids (ie; a bunch of tiny people) is hilarious. Which I didn’t really understand, since I was pretty convinced that I’d be fabulous at it. I accepted the invitation without hesitation.”Kids?” I thought. “Easy! I can take a day out of my busy TV-watching schedule to do that. You just feed them and let them follow you around, right?” Yeah – it wasn’t exactly like that.

Just as an FYI, you should know that this post is sponsored by CHUX. But all opinions expressed by the author are 100% authentic and written in their own words.

This is what happens when you have to handle whatever life chux at you (including a 7-year-old who nearly gets you arrested): I’m never quite sure how to act around kids – I always seem to go full-on baby-talk or total adult-conversation. I don’t quite know how to handle those 20 years in between. This may explain why I’m not quite sure what to do when I first meet Ben, 12, Annabel, 9 and Sally, 7. Do I shake their hands? Or pat them on the head maybe? Already I’m overwhelmed and missing my TV. Just as I’m trying to decide if Kate and Jim are ecstatic or terrified, they literally cheer as they walk away.

Looking forward to some alone-time then?

I guess they’re ecstatic then. I turn around. I am now officially in charge of the lives of three human beings. I decide that my strategy for the day will be to say yes to everything so that they think I’m cool. Foolproof parenting, amiright?

The plan is laser tag and bowling followed by lunch and shopping. I get a little too excited as we head into the laser tag place and I see that there’s a bar inside. Kids drink vodka, right?

My first shock of the day is how expensive it is to entertain little people. One game of bowling and one game of laser tag is HOW MUCH? Do you know how many items I could buy on ASOS with that kind of money? Geez. How can anyone afford to have more than one?

Bowling is up first. I decide this is the perfect opportunity to try and figure out what’s ‘cool with the kids’. Taylor Swift is in, Miley Cyrus is out. Ben says Annabel likes One Direction, but she denies it. Katy Perry’s Roar comes on screen and we have a very interesting discussion about the contradictions one finds when comparing the lyrics to the video. For example, Annabel informs me that she sings about a tiger but tigers don’t roar. Duh. Also, it’s not realistic that she would be perfectly made-up after being stranded in the jungle so long. AND – why is she singing about a tiger but wearing a leopard-print top? “I like how the elephant is the shower,” is all I manage to add. Since when are kids so freaking smart?

Laser tag: Terrifying.

Next up is laser tag, which is basically just an opportunity for me to run around screaming like a confused banshee. The kids try to be patient with me, but give up when they realise I’m clearly deranged. And let me tell you something – laser tag is exhausting. You basically just run around in a dark room for fifteen minutes. It’s like being inside a video game but you don’t get to sit down.

I’m losing so badly that I decide it’s time to leave decency out of this and I start targeting Sally, the 7-year-old. I know, I know – not the classiest move, but I don’t want to come last.

I come last.

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Thank god it’s time for lunch and I get to sit down for a while. Sushi, McDonald’s fries and thickshakes is a healthy meal, right? Now that we’re out of the terrifying post-apocalyptic nightmare that is laser tag, I try to probe the kids for some dirty laundry. They just seem too well-behaved. Annabel and Sally even wait to start their lunch until Ben and I come back with ours. Those are some seriously good manners – but I want to know what things are like at House Hunter when there’s no random babysitter from Sydney to impress! Who has crushes on who? Who sings in the shower? Who secretly loves Justin Beiber?

Success! They admit to sometimes running into each other’s bedrooms and farting. I’ll take it! I suddenly feel a strong emotional connection with these little guys, since farting on each other is something my little sister and I have continued to do well into our twenties.

After lunch it’s time to go shopping for a birthday present for Kate. I’m concerned this will take hours, but they each zone in on a gift pretty quickly. I’m trying to make myself scarce so I don’t cramp their shopping style.

The balloon man who almost had me arrested.

Then Annabel informs me that I say ‘mad’ too much. Apparently that’s not a cool word. The proper excited/impressed exclamation is ‘awesome’. God, I have so much to learn. Gifts purchased, we’ve kind of run out of things to do. I’m confused about the protocol: Do I just leave them here now or do I have to keep entertaining?

The kids spot a man selling balloon animals and go a little nuts. Obviously, I want to be the mad – sorry awesome – babysitter, so I agree to one balloon animal each. I’m feeling pretty cocky at this point. I’ve figured out if you just buy kids things, it makes them like you.

I decide to show off in front of the balloon man, and ask the kids if I’ve been a good babysitter so far. “Well, you’re not really a babysitter,” Sally replies. “More like a stranger off the Internet.”

Classic.

“Well, I guess that’s technically true…” I say, as the Balloon man looks at me, slightly concerned. I quickly usher the kids out of there before I get arrested.

The finger-in-the-ice torture game.

All I can think to do now is feed them again, so we stop at a café. I try to use the word ‘awesome’ as much as I can to prove that I’m cool and down with ‘it’.

To pass the time, we play a totally hygienic/torturous game that involves holding your finger in an icy cold drink for as long as you can. I hold my finger in the longest, but only because I want to keep sitting a while longer, and I’m worried that when the game ends they’ll make me get up.

Luckily, Jim and Kate arrive back from their relaxing lunch just in time to save my pinkie. And when I leave for the day, the kids and I hug. I guess that somewhere between pretending to shoot each other in the dark and talking about farts, we managed to form a real bond. I was glad to give them back though.

Right now, kids are definitely only a ‘sometimes’ thing for me. Babysitting kids is enough for now. And I had a pretty mad day. Damn it. I mean awesome.

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