I am a male babysitter, and I have been since I was a sophomore in high school, about six years ago. I started by sitting for a family with two sons, Oc and Pete, the oldest of which is now in 8th grade. I’ve since served in some capacity for around fifteen families in Chapel Hill, Wilson, and elsewhere, a male babysitter in a sea of females. I guess my role as babysitter has been a defining feature of my time in college, but it hasn’t had to be ― I choose every single day to place real value in those experiences.
Most of my friends consider babysitting to be “what Hayden does” because they don’t know any other men who do it. It’s no secret that when most of us hear the word “babysitter” we immediately think of this person being a woman.
Why wouldn’t you? Most of us at some point in our lives interacted with a female babysitter, but a male one? Not so much. I don’t know what made me initially enjoy babysitting ― maybe it was just a fun job on weekend nights when I had nothing else to do, an easy way to make some money while having a blast. It’s since become much more for me.
My perspective is one that ― for better or worse ― comes from a vantage point far different from most college-aged men. I spend much of my time each week with children, and a major reason for this is my choice to continue babysitting throughout the entirety of college. When I walk to class each day, I pass Chapel Hill guys I’ve known for several years who have never once interacted one-on-one with a child. And who can blame them? They’re living the “normal” lives of college-aged men, and so am I, right? Or am I some sort of outlier? The truth is that sometimes I do feel as if I’m living a life so different from my other classmates as a male babysitter, and perhaps I speak for other men who live lives similar to mine?
Everyday, I concern myself with how I can use my role as babysitter to better the lives of my guys and girls. Babysitting isn’t just about hanging out with the kids until their parents come home. It’s about finding ways to use your time with them to make their lives better and more full than before they met you. Listening to everything they say and making sure they know how important they are, asking them what they did for others today, giving them advice, even when their requests may seem silly. I read a few months ago one girl’s note to the kids whom she babysits in which she wrote how she’ll always care about them, even as their babysitter, and I feel the same way, though that’s a story for another day.
I am a male babysitter who invests a whole lot of himself in his kids.
I am a male babysitter who has watched his people grow up over the years.
I am a male babysitter who loves what he does.
I am a male babysitter who sometimes feels like an outcast as a result.
I am a male babysitter who wouldn’t trade his job for anything else.
I am a male babysitter who is still deciding his career path, and maybe, just maybe, babysitting can lend itself to his final decision.
I am a male babysitter.