We have had people in the past ask us what do we do for babysitters. Until this year we have not lived in the same town as relatives in seven years. For the most part, we haven't gotten babysitters unless it was absolutely necessary. We rarely went out by ourselves just for the fun of it. If we felt like we needed some alone time, we would put the kids to bed and turn off the TV and just talk or fix some decaf coffee and sit outside on our porch. When our kids started getting older, instead of going to bed, they had to go to their rooms with a book and read for a while until we told them "lights out"! I usually try to get up with my husband, even though I have not been doing that this week, so that we can get a moment together before he goes to work.
When we would have the rare occasion that we needed a babysitter for a function for my husband's work, we would usually hire two teenagers and pay them well. We could usually find someone from church who was wanting to make some extra money. This usually worked out well. We figured it would take two teenagers to watch four small children.
Now our oldest is 13 and our youngest is 7. We usually leave them at the house with instructions. The oldest is in charge, but everyone is in charge of their own behavior. I will usually pay Ashley a little bit if we go out, especially if the house is in good order when we get home. We do have family that they can stay with, but we rarely use them. Most of the time the kids want to come with us and do whatever we are doing. They don't get to see their father alot during some weeks because he has to travel and we get busy in the evenings, so if they get a chance to spend the evening with him, even if it is to go shopping, then they do. We also usually take vacations and short trips as a family. I figure that we will have plenty of time to travel alone when they are grown and I want the kids to experience vacations with us. The one time that we went off by ourselves for the weekend I was saying " Ashley would love this, Evan would love this" then I realized I would have enjoyed it more if I had brought them.
When I run errands when everyone is home I ask "who wants to go?" If they all want to go then I take them all. If Ashley want to go I take them all because she is the babysitter. If Ashley wants to stay Evan will usually stay because he hates to shop like most men.