By Rhia Jo
The challenge of having to find the right babysitting situation is one just about every parent faces sooner or later. Maybe you have a new baby and whatever time off you got from work is about to expire. Maybe you and your partner would like a date night or a trip away for the weekend. Or maybe, even if you’re home with your baby most of the time, you need to make time for yourself to exercise or otherwise do something personal while someone else watches the child.
As any parent can attest, the reasons for wanting or needing babysitting assistance are varied and never-ending! But no matter how often the need arises, the challenge is always the same. Have you found the right babysitter? And if not, how do you go about doing so?
The good news is that there are a lot of potential answers to that second question, depending somewhat on your specific needs. But we have a few suggestions for new parents in particular to keep in mind the next time the issue comes up.
Turn to Family
If you have the option, a family member should always be one of your first considerations — at least for certain types of sitting jobs. While there are pros and cons to turning to family for babysitting (cons being potential resentment and sometimes a lack of emergency training that professional babysitters often seek out), this is usually the most convenient option when appropriate. You’ll know how much you trust a family member, and it may be that the child is already comfortable with this person. Now, we wouldn’t recommend turning entirely to family, unless there’s a very specific, well-understood arrangement in place. But to allow yourself a night out now and then, or possibly a weekend away, this is often an excellent option.
Consult References, Interviews, & Trials
If you’re going the more traditional route and evaluating people who babysit professionally, the key is simply to be diligent. Request and consult any and all references that are available to you, first and foremost (most serious babysitters ought to have them!). Conduct an in-person interview, and go beyond the most basic talking points that come to mind. Per one helpful guide, for instance, some of the important questions concern whether the babysitter is CPR trained, whether he or she has personal transportation, how he or she deals with a tantrum, and so on. And then, do a trial run! This means seeing how your child interacts with the candidate. Often, you’ll be able to spot good chemistry or a total mismatch quite quickly.
Consider Your Child’s Tendencies
As part of the process just discussed regarding interviews and trials, you’ll also want to make sure to consider your child’s tendencies. This means evaluating the babysitting candidate with specific regard to some of the challenges your child may face. That may mean a tendency to act out for a particular reason; it may mean anxiety when the child is separated from you; it may mean special needs. Whatever the case, it’s important to evaluate any babysitting candidate within parameters that are considerate of the child’s needs and tendencies.
Evaluate Daycare Options
If you need more regular babysitting help, it’s also a good idea to conduct similar evaluations of daycare facilities in your area (meaning checking references and reviews, interviewing staff, and so on). This is a very common option, though it can be quite an expensive one as well. For that reason, we’d extend this idea to include evaluation of smaller, home-based daycares as well. Though these aren’t as widely popular (or as thoroughly advertised), they can be nice options almost in the middle between daycare and babysitting. According to one article aimed at guiding home daycare startups, there are now approximately 54,000 commercial daycare centers in the U.S. That unfortunately has made them extremely competitive and very costly, with some home daycare operations representing simpler alternatives. But either option can work! We simply recommend you carefully evaluate all relevant daycare options in the area so as to make the best possible choice.
Remain Open to Adjustment
Finally, remember that your first decision isn’t final! Finding the right babysitting or daycare situation can take time and cause some frustration. Once you do land on the right option, you’ll likely feel quite relieved. However, if problems of any kind arise, it’s important that that sense of relief not cloud your judgment. Even if you find what appears to be a perfect arrangement, remain open to the idea of adjusting and starting the search again if it becomes necessary.
Rhia Jo is a lifestyle blogger who has made it her goal to provide support and advice to families. She loves to go on short walks with her family when not writing.