Importance of a Support System

By Maria Bailey

When you have three children in less than twenty months like I did, you learn that an important part of surviving parenthood is a good support system. Whether it's a person you rely on to clean your house, a mother-in-law who will baby-sit occasionally or friends who pick up extra milk for you at the grocery store, support is important. For years, I've been reading what I call generic parenting articles in the most well-known newsstand publications. I call them generic because it seems that the same articles run year after year. Stop and think about it. When September rolls around you expect to read articles on back to school tips, December is always good for stories on ways to survive the holidays and controlling your spending and May brings suggested summer family vacation destinations. They run the same themes just different years. My team at knows the concept well because I'm always telling them to avoid generic articles for our site. I hope we accomplish our goal.

Back to my story... for years I've read articles that list ways to get a night out without the kids. Always on the list is, "Find another couple with similarly aged children and swap nights out." The idea is that one couple takes Friday night as the babysitters while the others enjoy an evening out and then Saturday night the roles switch. I've always thought it sounds good but because it was in one of those generic articles nobody really did it. It's like listing, "Park your car far from the door of the mall," as a way to put exercise into your day. Give me a break. What mom can really park half a mile away when she has her children with her? The idea sounds good on paper but is not practical particularly when you exit the mall with four tired children and a handful of bags

Recently, I had a moment of sanity and decided not to tote along our two year old with us on a trip to Washington D.C. Normally, I'd think I was supermom and pack the entire family up for a fun getaway. One of my best friends, Kathy (name has been changed to protect the innocent) brought me back to reality and convinced me taking a toddler to Arlington Cemetery and three museums in one day just wasn't a smart idea. The solution she offered me was that she would take my two year old for the weekend and I'd have her children when she and her husband vacation in May. Quickly I thought of those generic articles. Sounded like a good idea and I definitely trusted her with my children so I agreed. The arrangement worked out great. We were able to travel without a diaper bag and Morgan had fun playing with Kathy and her family for the weekend. (I'm just trying to figure out if a weekend with an additional child had anything to do with Kathy's husband getting a vasectomy the following week.)

Since we tried the children swap system last month, Kathy and I have used it a few more times but for shorter hours on evenings. I feel like I've discovered a whole new support system that I didn't know existed. More importantly I feel like I have regained a renewed appreciation for my friend Kathy.

There was a day in our college years when the only thing I passed her was a cold beer and toilet paper under the door of our sorority house bathroom. Now, I pass her my children. Today, I appreciate her not only because she enables me to get out once in a while to have dinner with my husband but because I've been reminded of just how much I trust her. To entrust your most prized possession with another means you have a deep level of trust and respect for them. I think it's a wonderful feeling to know there are people in your life who mean so much to you. I only hope that I give back to her as much as she gives to me in our friendship.

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Also see:
• Week Thirty -- Life is good
• Week Twenty-nine -- My nine year anniversary
• Week Twenty-Eight --Does birth order matter?
• Week Twenty-Seven -- Things we take for granted
• Week Twenty-Six -- My youngest turned two
• Week Twenty-Five -- Losing someone you love
• Week Twenty-Four -- Where's the romance in Valentine's Day?
• Week Twenty-Three -- The call I've been waiting for
• Week Twenty-Two -- Where did the weekend go?
• Week Twenty-One -- Business trip challenges
• Week Twenty -- Girl Scout cookie time
• Week Nineteen -- Thoughts on motherhood
More diary entries

Maria Bailey is the CEO and founder of and a mother of four children under the age of seven.