Are you ready to take a break from parenting for a couple of hours?
Parents work hard, so you more than deserve to go out and enjoy yourself.
If you’ve reached the point in your parenting life where you’re ready to leave your little one with a babysitter: Congratulations!
Feeling comfortable with leaving your child in the care of someone else is actually a huge parenting milestone.
Now that you’ve made the choice to let loose on the world (even if for a little bit), here are some steps you can follow to ensure that your child is safe and your mind is put at ease:
Choosing a Babysitter
Who you choose to babysit your children makes a difference when it comes to how comfortable you are to go out with friends, on your own or on a date night.
If you’re lucky, you’ll have a family member or friend that will come and watch your littles ones.
When you don’t have someone that can babysit for you, you may have to choose a stranger.
Don’t worry! There are several ways to find a good babysitter:
- Ask other parents for recommendations.
- Check on Facebook.
- Use a babysitting agency.
Before you hire a babysitter you have never met before, you want to make sure you meet with them prior to babysitting.
During this meeting, there are certain things you want to look for to ensure that the potential babysitter is someone you can trust and someone that your child likes.
What to Look For
Should you decide to hire a babysitter through an agency, you can be rest assured that their employees are police and reference checked.
However, you cannot be that thorough with an informal babysitter but you can screen them before deciding to hire them.
When you meet with them, pay attention to how they present themselves and how they behave when they meet your children.
You can also ask the following questions:
- Do you have experience with children the same age as my child?
- Can you provide references?
- Do you know first aid?
- How do you plan on disciplining my child?
- How will you keep my child busy?
- How do you deal with emergencies?
If you notice any red flags, or don’t feel comfortable with the individual, you are under no obligation to hire them.
Before you have someone come babysit your children, it is a good idea to have an agreement about the hours of service as well as payment.
How much you pay a babysitter depends on their age, experience and the hours you need. If you are going to rely on this babysitter regularly, you’ll likely have to pay them at a higher rate.
As part of the agreement, you should outline what you expect them as well as provide them with important information, such as:
- Your contact number
- Where you are going
- Your child’s likes and dislikes
- House rules (bed time, meal time, etc.)
- Medication and allergy instructions
- Emergency contact details (in case you can’t be reached)
Be sure to mention whether or not the babysitter is allowed to take your children out of the home, such as for a walk or drive.
The last thing you want to do is toss your child into an unknown situation with a stranger and take off!
Children thrive on consistency and expectation and will be anxious when placed in a situation they don’t understand.
The best thing you can do to prepare your child for a babysitter, and put your worries at ease as well, is to organize a trial run with the potential babysitter.
This means having that individual come to your home while you are there to interact with your child.
How to Set Up a Successful Trial Run
In order to make the most out of a trial run with a potential babysitter, follow these steps:
- Set up a trial run after the initial interview. If the interview is a success, schedule a time for the babysitter to come over.
- Be prepared to pay. Even though you’re at home during the trial, it’s only right to pay the babysitter for their time.
- Give them the rundown when they arrive. You should offer some basic instructions to the babysitter, such as your child’s routine and where key items are located.
- Stand back and watch. You want to see how things are going to go when you leave the house, so make sure you don’t hover during the interaction. Stay close by, however, in case the babysitter has any questions.
- Ask questions. After the trial run, sit down with the babysitter and ask them how they feel it went. Bring up any moments you were concerned about or aspects you may have concerns about (such as administering medication).
Use the trial run as an opportunity to take note of the babysitter’s personality as well as their ability to follow instructions and communicate.
Getting Ready to Go
Once you have chosen your babysitter, and are ready to hit the town, there are a few more things you should do before you run out the door:
- Have the babysitter arrive a few minutes early. This way, your child has a chance to transition into the babysitter’s care before you leave.
- Don’t sneak out. You may be tempted to sneak out while your little one is distracted, but this will cause more harm than good. Say “goodbye” to them with hugs and kisses and then scoot out the door.
- Leave important information in one spot. Write down important telephone numbers, as well as special instructions, and leave them in one central location. This also includes medications and other important items.
Once you return, be sure to take a moment or two to speak with the babysitter about how things went.
Also, make sure you return exactly when you said you would.
Calming Your Anxiety
Even if you feel ready to leave your child with a babysitter, you’re likely going to experience some apprehension.
First of all, you deserve to go out – so don’t even think about cancelling your plans!
(Unless, of course, your child is sick or you have a really good reason.)
Second, remember that you put so much time and effort into finding someone to look after your child. Take solace in your caution.
Lastly, push away that “parenting guilt” you’re going to feel when you leave your child behind. They may cry and beg you to stay but, ultimately, they are going to be fine and have a good time.
Never hesitate to call home and check in with the babysitter to help alleviate your anxiety – just limit this to one call.
Otherwise, go enjoy yourself!
You work so hard as a parent to care for your child, you deserve the time to take care of yourself as well.
How did you make out the first time you left your child with a sitter? Let us know in the comments!