My husband goes to bed at 10 o'clock every night. That's not usually a problem - unless it's New Year's Eve. Unfortunately, most of our friends here in California weren't too excited about celebrating "an Oklahoma New Year's Eve" (when it's midnight in Oklahoma, it's 10 p.m. in California). Our friends expected to party past midnight, California time.
When our children were little, it was hard enough to find any baby sitter for New Year's Eve. Those who weren't at their own parties looked forward to a long night of sitting; they earned good money that night. It wasn't fair to engage a sitter for only a few hours. So for a couple of years, we stayed home alone and I was unhappy. I wanted to find some way to mark the new year. Finally, inspiration came. Since baby sitters were so hard to find, why not be the baby sitters for our friends' children?
Our rules were basic: Each child needed to arrive on New Year's Eve with a sleeping bag, pajamas, a pillow, and a parent's emergency list (phone numbers, etc.) anytime after 5 p.m. All children needed to be picked up by 11 the following morning. We in turn provided a pizza dinner and nutritious snacks, games, and videos, an "Oklahoma New Year's Eve" celebration, and a waffle breakfast. We established the bedrooms as "quiet zones" for those children who wanted to go to sleep before "lights out" at 10 p.m.
After that, it was quiet time for the rest of the children who were tucked into their bags in the living room. It was agreed that if a child disobeyed the rules and was noisy after 10, we would phone the parents for an immediate pickup. But we never had to resort to our ultimate solution for keeping the children quiet.
What a joyful solution! Our friends were free to attend the parties of their choice without the difficulties and expense of finding sitters, and with the assurance that their children would be having fun and would be well cared for. The children enjoyed the festive sleep-over with their friends. They had fun but also had a good night's sleep. My husband and I enjoyed the activities in our home with our children and their friends. And my husband could go to bed happily at his regular time, even on New Year's Eve.
(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society